eet Ewa Brach-Pogoda, who supports us in achieving our development goals. Ewa is an experienced trainer who for years has been teaching bosses, managers and employees how to talk to their co-workers and build relationships to ensure greater effectiveness at work.
Ewa conducts internal trainings for us, but as part of our benefits program, each employee can turn to her for individual consultations to talk about their difficulties or challenges. We invite you to read the interview with Ewa about the role of a coach in an IT company, benefits of coaching and finding a balance between work and rest.
I'm noticing more and more talk in the public space about coaching support in the professional journey. Do you see it that way too?
This is indeed the case. Employees and we as people are starting to feel less and less ashamed to go to a psychotherapist, a psychologist, or to turn to a coach for support. We are coming to understand that having problems coping with the hardships of work life is nothing derogatory. It does not mean that we are inferior to others. Only indeed, when we have a toothache, we go to the dentist. When our knee hurts, we go to the orthopedist. So when it hurts to be ineffective in the work zone, or a relationship issue in that area - we go for help with that. And sometimes it really doesn't take much to make meaningful changes.
What problems do employees most often approach you with?
The problems are varied. If we look at the managers, they mainly concern how to manage and lead a team, how to achieve goals effectively, how to motivate others. These have always been the topical issues, but recently I have noticed an increased interest in them. When it comes to individual problems of employees, the most common topics are related to how to deal with stress, how to set goals and achieve them, how to deal with over stimulation, how to build self-confidence and assertiveness, how to talk to the boss so that he finally understands what we want to say. There is also the topic of conducting meetings in such a way that all participants feel their sense, because it turns out that about 70% of meetings in companies are ineffective, and remote ones in particular. Another important topic is rest and how to arrange work time to find time for regeneration.
You talk about rest - how do you rest when the pace of work is great and the goals to be accomplished are ambitious?
I always say: to be successful and promoted, you need to be able to rest. Many people who are focused on promotion work intensely and forget about rest, which actually gives energy for action. Our body requires fuel like a car. With an empty tank, we won't get anywhere, and our goal will be compromised. Of course, it happens that people achieve goals by downplaying rest, but they are so tired and burned out that they can't enjoy the success or set further goals afterwards. At work, we have a lot of stimuli, notifications, meetings, tasks, and we encounter a lot of variability. We come to work at 8:00 am and have one decision to make, and at 10:00 am we find that we have to do something else. Then, when we get home, we have another stimulus: family, school, sometimes a second job. So, especially in today's world, rest is important. But not the kind of rest that consists in staring at the phone or TV screen, but the kind that really regenerates us.
Going back to the problems that employees approach you with - I see that a lot of it is about communication.
Good observation! Everything we do and say and how we do it is a form of communication. It's worth remembering that when someone doesn't speak but looks with a specific gaze, that's a message too. It often happens that we talk too much and listen too little. I remember such a situation from one of the training sessions. I told a short story there, which I often recall. It goes like this: "Why God gave us two ears and one mouth? So that we would listen twice as much and speak less". One of the trainees remembered this one sentence and was amazed at what a wonderful effect it had. He simply started listening to what his employees had to say and found that there was a lot of good there for his company.
At what point is it best to turn to a coach for help?
Unfortunately, people act in such a way that they usually go for help at the last minute. We know it from life, e.g. we go to the dentist only when our tooth hurts so much that nothing helps. The vast majority of us disregard the first warning signs and usually think that it will be fine. Then it turns out that we need help. That's why I suggest prevention. If someone promotes us to another position, and suddenly we have to lead a team, and this was not our responsibility before, it is worth asking ourselves a question: what do we need to know or be able to do to lead this team? How do we even want to do it? In this situation, the coach helps to prepare for this new situation. Referring to the example of teeth, it is exactly like taking care of dental hygiene. If we take care of it, then there is a chance that the teeth will not break down. And if they do break down, then not to such a great extent. This assumption also translates into work.
What could be such a warning sign?
When we feel that you at work, something is bothering us. We see that our actions at work are ineffective, such as in our relationship with other employees or with our boss. We make one attempt to fix them, but nothing changes. Furthermore, we make a second, and then another and another, and nothing helps. It could be that we are missing something and need a side view. Or we don't have some skill and need to learn something. In the most difficult cases, it may turn out that we simply do not have the aptitude or talent for something. Then you need to give up on something and turn your energy to something completely different, where our potential is. For example, not always a good specialist will be a great leader. To become a leader, you have to like people and like working with them. A good moment is also the moment when someone gives us feedback and points out that we are not coping with something. If we get feedback which is factual and concrete, especially from a person who is an authority for us, it is worth using it as a preventive measure.
What does it look like to work with you?
It usually takes about ten meetings, but it largely depends on the problem the person comes to me with. Sometimes it may be a problem to be solved in one or two meetings, for example, when we want to deal with some conflict. But there are situations when the process may last longer than ten meetings. As they say - the more you get into it, the more complicated it becomes. Someone comes in with a seemingly simple problem, but over time it starts to become more exposed, and we find that we need more time.
Is such a coaching process easy or difficult?
The paradox is that most often we come to change something, and when the moment of change comes, we back off and there is resistance. Every individual work is connected with some kind of change. And this is connected firstly with the fact that at the moment of change we disturb some structure and stability. Secondly, working with a coach requires effort, no one has changed just by coming to the meetings. To put it figuratively again - watching soccer on TV will not make me a football player. Besides the effort, change also involves the risk that something will change not only in me, but also in the environment. For example, when we work on assertiveness and suddenly start to refuse, it may turn out that others will not like it. Finding yourself in this new situation is not easy.
What are the benefits to the employee of working with a coach?
It depends on the goal, but the general benefit is to be more effective in doing things, in communicating. When I work with managers, we learn how to lead a team, having conversations, giving feedback, enforcing, sharing responsibility. That person then gains more peace of mind and confidence that they are leading people with their head. And employees gain an efficient manager who can organize and motivate them, and then the situation in the team is clearer. If the boss or the manager functions more efficiently, it translates into the effects of the whole team and the company, because the employees make fewer mistakes, the number of conflicts decreases, which after all cost organizations millions annually.
And what gives you the most job satisfaction?
First, solving problems, but also simply helping when I see someone doing better. I know that my work has a snowball effect and if I help one person, the good energy carries on.