“That’ll teach you - Part 1, Early morning lean coaching” (#37)

Last Thursday I observed a Team Brief at shift start up, delivered by a fledging Team Leader who we’ll call Tony. By my reckoning, I’ve watched and coached over a hundred Team Briefs but counter intuitively, my interest wasn’t in the briefer’s performance but in his Group Leader’s (Gary) who wasn’t even delivering the brief. Confused yet?

The point being that the child is the reflection of the nurturing parent & monozukuri is the name of our game. The tortuous learning cycle behind this scenario is that I coach the Group Leader in how to deliver a strong brief in style and structure. He or she then selects a Team Leader to coach, coaches them and gives me a nudge when they think they’re ready for some feedback.

Thursday at 6:55am rolls around and I’m stood alongside Gary as we listen to Tony showcase his silky speaking skills. At the end of the 5 minute brief, Gary then feeds back to him, which I observe. Tony departs to marshall the troops and I then feedback to Gary on his feedback. Slightly meta and more interesting to do than to explain.

Anyhow, Tony had delivered a strong, change point biased, engaging & focused brief with a hint of levity in the right places and some interaction for engagement and confirmation of understanding. For the record, his confirmation was a little pub quizzy and he didn’t end with a focus for the shift but Gary had clearly put some time into coaching him. All of this is irrelevant for our purposes though as it got interesting when Gary delivered his feedback.

Bear in mind it’s now 7:05am and he’s talking to a Team Leader who’s sphincter is just starting to relax, having been the object of scrutiny whilst pitching to a team still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. Gary took a breath and launched into a list of 11, count ‘em, 11 loosely connected feedback items without a word from Tony. A one-way stream of consciousness of impressive early morning vigour but doubtful use.

Coaching in this environment is like kaizen itself, regular small touches are good. You’d rather someone raise 3 kaizen ideas and close 2 than raise 20 and close 0 because they feel overwhelmed by the weight of the task. As Gary drew breath at the end I asked him this question:

“Which of those points is he going to remember in an hour (let alone for his next brief) when he’s juggling the demands of a line racing along to a 70 second takt beat?”

The answer is none, Gary had forgotten that less is more when it comes to feedback and, as importantly, he should have opened with a question, not a statement …something weak like the following would be a decent start:

 “Tony, how do you think it went?” often met with a vague answer like “ok”

which leads to a better question like:

“What specifically did you do well in that brief you just gave & tell me one thing you’d change for next time?”

This, at least, gives Tony the chance to guide the feedback. The bonus is that Gary gets a glimpse into Tony’s mind to grasp his understanding of the requirements of a strong brief.

He can also gauge Tony’s self-awareness regarding his performance gap. Then, as the coach, Gary can weave the 2 or 3 points he wants to make into their self-reflection…and there it is at last, the point of this and the next blog…self reflection.

It took me 300 odd words of fluffing to get to the main point; What is the intention behind this kind of coaching scenario?  

That’s for next week…


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