After the Webinar: Managing as a Coach. Q&A with Thom Dworak

Webinar presenter Thom Dworak answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Managing as a Coach: Shifting Your Mindset. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: What are some of your suggestions for keeping focused and easily distracted staff to stay on track without micro-managing them and nagging them to keep on keeping on? 

Thom Dworak: This focus issue and attention issue comes up a lot in especially my FTO classes. I see it with these kids in the academy, a lot of the attention span is just is horrendous. The computer, the internet is actually the bane of the world and social media and that because we’ve been trained to not pay attention to it and that social media stuff is an energy sucker. So, some of the things that we’re telling folks, that we’re giving to these perspective FTO should deal with to deal with their trainees is shut off notifications on their phone, the bells, the whistles, the sounds, even the vibrate because even if they shut the sounds off the vibrations that come up from it will draw their attention there. If it’s if it’s in a more of an office setting. Really get a format standpoint when it’s time to work, versus when it’s time to check e-mails and stuff. There is almost never an e-mail in the world needs to be responded to the moment that it’s that it’s received very good enough. If it’s something that is something that requires an immediate response, is you should either get up and walk cross the office and go talk to somebody or call them. But even turning off the e-mail notifications, the sounds, the bells, and stuff on your office computers. Because that just, if they’re working, it takes their attention away from the work, and it drives them off to their, now they go check a couple of e-mails, and then, “Oh, hey, let’s look and see what home shopping network has to offer. And let me see what’s trending on Twitter,” and by the time, we get back 2.5 an hour has gone by. And it takes that long to get back into that work frame. And, really, the only other thing that’s showing any kind of positive results is meditation, and the magic numbers right now seems to be five minutes, just from a number of studies that I’ve seen, and I’ve also seen it in a couple of different books that talk about this meditation. And like I said, the happy number is five minutes. You don’t see any more gain in attention or focus ability, till you get to around 40 minutes to an hour. But that, but that five minutes is really the critical point where you really, where you see an increase in focus that lasts for a greater period of time. Might even be coaching, because our attention, our focus also varies greatly throughout the day. It is highest in the morning, it peaks about mid-morning and starts to drop off, it really kind of gets the lowest part of the day just after lunch, that after lunch fatigue, it’ll start to build back up again and then hit about a midpoint about mid-day and trail off again. So, that might be even coaching our folks, that, hey, look, if you get stuff that has to get done, that’s going to demand a lot of your attention, is do it early in the day where a lot of that attention can be developed. But the rest of it is really knocking down distractions and getting those things away that are going to be energy, or attention suckers that draw us away from what it is that we’re supposed to be doing and leads them off into a labyrinth of all kinds of other stuff just because of the ease of being able to get there.

Host: Outstanding, Honestly. I would have never thought about meditation, but that it makes complete sense when you explain it that way.


Audience Question: We’ve seen difficulty in having an employee shift from the need to use critical thinking on a complex problem, and then there’s times when the employee is not able to critically think.  What can we do in this instance? 

Thom Dworak: Again, it’s that going in and just reviewing with them, asking them questions about why they did what they did. Why they made that decision? And then how did they make that decision? And those are two completely different answers. They may sound like similar questions, but they’re not. Why really gets off from a mental model from a personal mental model in terms of how they view the world lens and it’s more from my personal philosophy driven.

I was doing an FTO supervisor class last week and some of the kickback they were getting especially from these younger folks is enforcing certain laws and because they did it in their prior life prior to coming into law enforcement, they did not feel, or it was hypocritical on their part two to enforce it. And again, that’s a personal mental model and that’s, you know, from a … value system And that’s a hard thing to overcome. And it’s like “Hey look, you took an oath that says you’re going to enforce all of these laws whether you agree with them or not.” But it’s from the standpoint if they can’t think it’s developing that thinking, the second is adjusting their mental models from a standpoint of this is what our job is.

The other side of it could be and we see that we see this pop up from time to time, is that they used these mistakes, errors, and things as an avoidance issue because they’re uncomfortable dealing with it. Well, you know what? Complex problems make us uncomfortable. We don’t like complex problems, but that’s what we deal with, almost on a day-to-day basis. In order to do this job and do it successfully, we have to be at least comfortable with the uncomfortability. So, break it down for them. Ask them how and why. You start to build in other options with them. Have them start to list out what evidence, and what facts they have, and tie those back into their options. Given what those facts and circumstances are? Are any of those options available to me? Or does one require more background, and deeper thought, in order to be able to use it? So, it’s giving, it’s working with them from this coaching side of things to develop these critical thinking skills. It should have happened in school, but we know that schools aren’t teaching people how to think critically, so it falls to us whether it’s whether it’s trainers, whether it’s the FTO or supervisors to develop these skills in our subordinates.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Managing as a Coach: Shifting Your Mindset.


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