leadership, life lessons, management, mindfulness, motivation, training, work life

Shoop Shoop Shoop – Are You With Me?

Driving home from yesterday’s 4th training session, the “Shoop Shoop Song” from “Waiting To Exhale” was playing in my head.  In many ways it’s also the perfect Friday song, and given some of the posts I’ve read this week, it’s appropriate for the end of what appeared to be a tough week.  Seems like a lot of us spent much of the week just waiting to let it go…

“And sometimes you’ll laugh, and sometimes you’ll cry

Life never tells us the whens and whys

But when you’ve got friends to wish you well

You’ll find your point when you exhale…”

You can add the ‘shoop shoops’ yourself – there are a lot of them.

Yesterday, I facilitated the last training session with the remarkable group of people of whom I’ve written before.  Next week, a colleague will join me for the last part of the program.  So in some ways, I had to say good-bye to a dynamic which has fueled, inspired and challenged me once a week for the month.  We’ll have a great time next week, and the team united as we know will morph naturally by the presence of a new person.  The thought of the upcoming farewells has my stomach more than just a little knotted.

Our topic yesterday was Performance Management – with emphasis placed on the fluidity of the process – the need for it to be a constant loop of communication, not the culmination of twelve silent months with no conversation about a person’s performance.  We addressed some of the real issues managers grapple with – the star employees who don’t receive enough feedback because ‘they know’ they’re terrific and other people require more attention; the poor performers who supervisors avoid because ultimately the anticipated hostility/tears/aggressive/defensive reaction (pick your adjective) is just too painful to endure.  The challenge of actively listening when studies show that adults really attend for about five minutes within a twenty-minute conversation.  How commentary is far more critical than a ‘score’ and how to move a firm and its people away from the numbers and in to substantive feedback.  Including the employee in establishing goals, and how to build those goals effectively.  We went straight through, with a quick break to bring in some lunch, and just kept going until we could go no longer.  They crushed it – figuratively and in a good way.  The examples provided, support given to those with a tough situation to handle, enthusiasm and trust in each other – all were so impressive.  They inspired me more than I can adequately describe.  Do you sense a ‘but’ in all of this?  Good – I’m so glad you picked that up.

When our sessions end, they go back to work.  At best their supervisors ask them if they’re enjoying the program, if they’re getting anything out of  it,etc..  That’s it – the curiousity and interest in the manager and his/her development stops there.   They are coming away from these meetings with new ideas, a renewed sense of purpose, some thoughts about bettering themselves and their department.  There wasn’t one person who affirmed that his/her boss would be interested in pursuing anything other than things as they are.  The most frustrating aspect of this reality, is that I just know what will happen to their enthusiasm, focus and intention.  Worse still, they do too.  I’m committed to being available to them should they need me,  but let’s be real –  as time passes everyone gets caught up in the rhythm of their days, and without someone encouraging movement and effort from their supervisors, there is an inevitable return to the norm.

If you are a director or C-level officer, are you really giving your direct reports the room, support and mentorship they need?  Are you working with them to formulate opportunities to practice that which they’ve learned once training programs end?  What’s your stake in their growth and how do you show that commitment?  I’m just wondering, because from where I stand this seems to be the most important part of your responsibilities and the easiest one for you to minimize or disregard.  I’m just sayin’…I know there are some exceptional senior executives who read this blog – it would be great to know what you do with and for those managers you send for professional development training once they’ve completed the program or class?

I will miss these Thursdays, yet that doesn’t diminish the value they have held for me.  I have met outstanding people, forged a bond that is predicated upon a shared desire to do the right thing for those they supervise and for their firms.  I wish them all the success, growth and all the happiness their hearts can hold.

So it’s Friday morning, and the sun is slowly rising.  The week ends with some exhausted by the emotional toll that the last few days have exacted; others are thrilled that the week has gone so well.  For everyone,  I hope the time arrives sometime today when you get to exhale.  Happy weekend all.

8 thoughts on “Shoop Shoop Shoop – Are You With Me?”

  1. Lost me on shoop shoop, but I will respond none the less. You touch on a very real issue. When we send our managers and team members off to various training classes, they come back full of energy and ideas. It usually does not take a great deal of time before they are caught back up in their daily routine and they forget about the wonderful ideas they were going to implement. I do a lot of internal training. One benefit of that is that all of my managers get exposed to the same new ideas and concepts so they can help hold each other accountable for getting new ideas implemented. However, when one or two of my managers attends an external training class, I will generally ask them to do a quick presentation for the rest of us on what they learned and how we can implement it here. It gets us all back on the same page again where we can hold each other accountable. We try a lot of different techniques and tools. Some of them work out and some don’t. I don’t usually worry too much if we try something and it does not work. The key is to keep trying new things. Love this post.

  2. I KNEW I would lose you with the Shoop Shoop song – damn! Anyway, it’s got a very mellow beat, sung by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack of the movie “Waiting To Exhale”…:-)
    I did a lot of in house training as well – and I think it’s a great way for people to remain on the same page and focused on a revised or new long term goal. You already do what many (I think most) do not – feel confident enough – and engaged enough in your own growth – to encourage people to try new things, make recommendations and work with them to adapt & adopt them if they make sense. You my friend, are not afraid to get a little uncomfortable in order to shake things up and keep people’s career’s in full-on development mode. These are but just a few of the reasons I think you are a terrific developer of people…

    1. I retired last year after 22 years. I was the Chief HR Officer for a global law firm with 33 offices around the world. Now I do management consulting, a little public speaking. And in another life, I was a psychotherapist – now put all of that together and you have one crazy, but very caring woman on the later side of mid-life…:-)

      1. Very, very interesting. It sounds like you did (and still do) great work.

        I asked because I currently teach conflict resolution to graduate students in urban planning. We talk a lot about good meeting facilitation. Oddly enough, I also have a JD, though I have never practiced law.

      2. Sounds like a really interesting position!! Chances are you apply all the knowledge you have garnered to tremendous use!

  3. When I think of shoop-shoop, I think of a Hula Hoop! Anyhoo, onward and upward we hopefully will go with guidance to do greater things.

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