High Vis Vests and Emotional Intelligence

by belinda.

Q:    Now our carpark at the front of the building is full, how do we get employees to park out the back?

A:    Put on a high visibility vest and move my car out the back first.

My client Jim was describing how visitors and prospects were no longer able to park outside his office building due to all the car parking spaces being full. Jim is the owner of a FMCG business and his business is growing strongly. The office building is located in front of the warehouses and is the easiest place for the office workers to park. Now the carpark was full of employees, something had to give… and it was Jim himself who lead the way.

He put on a high vis vest, work boots and moved his luxury car to the warehouse carpark out the back. He encouraged his fellow Directors to do the same. He also asked several key staff if they would be willing to park in the warehouse carpark too. They were happy to as they had seen the Directors doing so. Over the coming weeks with this top-down approach there was space again for visitors and prospects to easily park out the front and stroll into reception.

Early in this transition Jim was leaving one evening when a security guard asked him what he was doing next to the timeclock. Jim smiled and said he was about to “clock off” and head to his car. It was in this moment that Jim realised that he was practising what we had been focusing on in our coaching sessions –emotional intelligence, in this case empathy, IN ACTION. When I asked him to expand on this Jim said there were 3 defined steps:

1.     Clarify the Issue – no visitor parking spaces due to business growth (not employees showing off their status)

2.     Brainstorm the options – top down memos, punishment, treat employees as adults, reframe, bring other/peers with you, +++

3.     Lead by example – Jim chose to experiment with this option and it worked. If it didn’t he would have gone back to his options and actioned the next best one.

Knowing is not the same as doing. Theory is not the same as action. Executive Coaching, in fact all coaching, is about setting an intention (making a decision), then taking action(s) to produce a result. Simply setting the intention is not enough. Taking action without a clear intention is just scattergun and more often than not, misses the intended result. If you want a result you need all parts of the equation: