Sunday, 27 October 2013

From Management of Time to Engagement with Life*

Carol* wanted to discuss her problem with Time Management. She complained about being overworked for most part of her professional life- working for more than twelve hours a day and getting exhausted.  She wondered how ‘others get so much time to work, socialize, attend seminars/training programs, attend fitness regime…whereas despite a breakneck schedule, she reaches nowhere’.

The coaching conversation that followed, I’d say is fairly representative of many individuals who have similar problems. Through coaching conversation, Carol realized that she was missing something very fundamental.

Here are the excerpts:           

Carol: I am so tired and exhausted- I have no energy even to catch a peaceful sleep. I have lost balance of my life for many, many years.

Coach: You are obviously exhausted and also sound frustrated. What is it all about?

Carol: Howsoever hard I work; I do not get enough time to take care of my simple needs. It makes me feel sick. I wonder how others manage to get time to do all things!

Coach: Well, do you know such people?  

Carol: Yes, there are many. For instance, my boss- he has all the time to attend his gym, socialize, take his family out on vacation and respond to all the mails and queries that we have. I think I am lousy at Time Management!

Coach: And what does that make you feel like?

Carol: I feel stupid- I cannot imagine me giving time to things that I like. Time is always so short.  I think I’d like to discuss better time management and prioritization.

Coach: Sure! Let’s deal with prioritization. What happens when you do things that you like?

Carol: Well, I feel excited, I feel alive, I feel motivated- I feel energized.

Coach: Are you saying that you get energy from doing things that you love?

Carol: Yes, that’s what I said

Coach: So, Carol- if you take stock of last couple of days or whoever time horizon that you choose and list how many things you did that gives you energy.

 Carol: Hmmm…hardly, rather- none whatsoever, I think.

Coach: You have been expending and exhausting your energy. What is your model of replenishing it?

Carol: I got it! My issue is not time management but how I overall engage with my life and things that are important to me!


At this moment, Carol could clearly see that her issue is not time management. She could see herself not honoring her own needs to engage in activities which matter her the most. Having understood the real issue, Carol went about re-constructing her daily routine. She could identify five hours in a day which she can effectively utilize in her physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

If you relate with Carol’s problems- if you have issues that are similar to hers- then please check- are you doing justice to yourself? How well are you engaging with your own life?

-          Rajesh Vaidya

 (* This article is part of ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series. ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series is intended to serve coaches, leaders & managers who have coaching as part of their professional responsibility, and also individuals who are curious about what coaching is and what coaching can do. Coaching subject, situation and coaching conversation is real; identity of the client is however changed completely to protect confidentiality and privacy.)

Manager as a Coach- Can Twain Ever Meet?

In HR meetings, conferences and HR sites, one of the common questions that one comes across is “Can operating manager be a coach? Is it possible for a manager to wear both the hats?’

I’d like to share my personal experience which hopefully would clarify some questions around it. Though anecdotal, but I believe it serves its purpose to a great degree.

While leading strategy driven systemic changes at the Organizational level has been my area of work for many years- I knew I was missing the joy of engaging at individual level and watch the miracle called “transformation” happen. During my quest to find a long term, structured solution- I came across a Coach- who was a practicing senior level manager, then a consultant and now a full time coach.

In the very first meeting, I presented him with a barrage of questions.  [Later, in every meeting when he’d introduce me to others, he made a practice to say that “Be careful, Rajesh always has lots of questions...”]

To summarize, my questions were something like these?

“Can a practicing manager be a Coach? “

“A manager is busy making decisions- directing people, telling, solving problems- whereas coaching involves facilitation, allowing people to do deeper search and find solutions for themselves- where is the time for coaching?’

“Isn’t it better to engage services of consultants rather than embarking on long drawn coaching program?”

Conversation that followed thereafter brought about a great deal of clarity- here are the excerpts-


Coach:  What kind of people do you hire in your organization?

Rajesh: Well, at my level, I have been consciously hiring capable, experienced and ambitious people with right values at right place- these are the people who take the Organizations forward.

Coach: I heard you say that a manager is busy making decisions, giving solutions, directing, telling etc. Do such capable and experienced people required repeat telling, selling decisions etc.

Rajesh: Well, not always, but at times they require clarity.

Coach: What I heard you say that only at times they require clarity, but for most of the time their managers are busy doing exactly what their team members are perfectly capable of doing by themselves.

Rajesh: Yes, it’s kind of dilution of capability.

Coach: What kind of work style do you personally prefer?

Rajesh: Well, I like my manager giving me desired results, success vision and broad direction on how to go about. I need space and freedom in terms of going about it.   

Coach: And how do you feel when your manager directs you most of the time, he expects periodic feedback and puts a rigorous monitoring around your activities.

Rajesh: I already feel stifled as you say all these. Yes, I have gone through such phases in my professional like and it felt frustrating. It felt so small!

Coach: And how was it while working with managers whom you enjoyed working with?

Rajesh: Well, there was freedom, trust; I felt my manager believed in my capabilities. Mistakes were treated as learning experiences and I knew I worked in a non-judgmental, safe environment.

Coach: So Rajesh, can practicing manager be a Coach?

Rajesh: I got the point, thank you!

This conversation brings out some key aspects.

Coaching works for intrinsically motivated individuals, who want to learn new competencies, raise their performance bar and have an overall positive journey.

 With an internal measurement, effort  improvement yardsticks already in place, all that the manager of such individual needs to do is  create a non-judgmental, objective and feedback based environment.

I personally experimented with creating a structure wherein apart from on-the-job coaching which happens during the flow of work, I agreed with my colleague upon specific coaching hours in a week. Discussions, outcomes and action plans were recorded and reviewed in the subsequent meetings. I can say with confidence that such formal structure multiplies the effectiveness of individual development and nurturing talent.   

My conclusion- Manager as a coach is not a hypothetical concept- there are many successful managers who are already donning Coach Hat and getting wonderful results out of their reporting employees. Creating a formal support structure further adds to its effectiveness.

-          Rajesh Vaidya