The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Educating People To See Things In A Professional Situation

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Peak performers see things quickly in their area of brilliance. They have what is called personal radar.

Going into a situation, they quickly scan it to see patterns and then extrapolate those patterns. They seem to know what will happen before it happens.

Each person has good radar in specific areas but bad radar in others. So is it possible to help somebody to see things more quickly, more deeply and improve their radar?

Providing they have some feeling for the activity, the answer is ‘Yes’. Let’s explore how to make this happen.

Educating people to see things clearly
and quickly in a professional situation

People with good radar quickly get to the heart of a matter. They see and sense things more deeply and quickly than others.

The superb sales person senses how to close a deal. The great footballer spots the opportunity for a defence splitting pass. The wise mediator recognises the opportunity to find a ‘win-win’ solution.

Some radar is given, it is a gift with which we are born. But it can be developed through education and experience.

How to make this happen? One approach is to physically take people through the journey and clarify what they actually see in a professional situation.

Let me illustrate this approach by describing an exercise involving the staff from a high tech company. You can apply the same principles to any kind of professional situation.

The Post-it Note Exercise

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A key customer had recently complained that the company’s building looked shoddy, saying:

“I hope the staff members take more care of their software than they do of the building.”

This sparked some debate. But the outcome was that the leader asked me to work with the staff to improve the experience for visiting customers.

We agreed to start with a task force of volunteers who were committed to making improvements.

I asked the people in the task force to meet me at 8.30 in the morning. Not in the office, but half a mile further away, on the main road that led to the company headquarters.

Gathering the group together, I gave the instructions.

“We are going to walk towards the office. The customers would be coming in their cars. So I want you to see the journey through their eyes.

“You each have 3 different coloured bundles of Post-it Notes – Green, Red and Blue. As we approach and then go into the office, I want you to write on the following notes.

Green Post-its

Write every positive impression you get about the company or good thing you see as a customer.

Red Post-its

Write every negative impression you get or thing that needs to be fixed.

Blue Post-its

Write every idea you have for what could be done to improve the customer’s experience.

“Write one idea per Post-it. We will theme these at the end, consider the ideas and then implement the actions. Fine, let’s begin walking towards the building.”

How can you apply this approach in your own way? If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific professional situation where you want to educate people to see things more clearly and quickly.

Describe the specific results you want to achieve by educating them to see things more clearly and quickly.

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Educating people to see what is
going well and what can be improved

The team set off at speed. Within 20 metres I said,

“Stop. Wait a minute. Remember you are a customer travelling in a car towards the company.

“What do you see? Can you see the sign directing you to the company? What are your first impressions?”

“There is a sign when you get near the gate,” said one person, “but not one here. Sometimes we get complaints about people over-shooting the drive. But we do send them a map.”

People started scribbling on the Post-its. We continued the walk. On our left were railings and a hedge, through which we could see the building.

So I asked people to stop again and describe what they saw. They mentioned the railings, but not the beer cans that lay at the bottom of the hedge.

“But we can’t do anything about that,” said one person. “It’s the problem of being on a main road.”

More scribbling on the Post-its.

Passing the unsmiling security guard, we approached the main building. Standing on the steps were 3 staff members smoking their last cigarettes before going into work.

Not the best first impression to give a visiting customer planning to give a cheque to the company.

So we went on. The journey took us into the shabby reception area, to the toilet, onto the coffee area and so on.

Sixty minutes later the task force had compiled masses of Post-it Notes. The majority were red and blue.

This is a simple but powerful exercise. I have used it in many situations, such as with with hotel staff, footballers, therapists and other professionals.

The aim is to get people to take time to, identify what they see and then focus on what can be improved. It is to increase their awareness and expand their radar.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific professional situation where you want to educate people to see things more clearly and quickly.

Describe the specific things you can do to educate them to see what is going well and what can be improved.

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Educating people to
implement the improvements

“Some things we had simply stopped seeing,” said one person.

“Other things we would never have thought of, such as clearing the hedges of cans each day.”

The task force arranged the Post-its in their respective colours and then sorted these into themes.

Within two hours they had produced a comprehensive action plan, complete with getting some early successes. One person remarked:

“We can improve things straight away and most of the improvements cost very little money.”

The big challenge would be for them to keep seeing what could be improved.

You can use this approach in your own way, but bear in mind the concept of personal radar.

Some people will see things more quickly and more deeply than others in particular activities. Providing people do have some feeling for an activity, however, you can educate them to keep improving their vision.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific professional situation where you want to educate people to see things more clearly and implement the improvements.

Describe the specific things you can do to educate them to implement the improvements.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

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