Ice Cream or Spinach? Which Do Your People Choose? –

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Do you want ice cream or spinach today?

Yikes – that’s a tough one isn’t it? What would your team members choose? What would we rather give them? And would we leave it up to them to decide? Adult learners are mature people who probably should want spinach, but would they? Would you? When you are stressed and busy and have multiple tasks to do, would you have the strength to say, “Thanks, I’ll take the spinach – I’m building my muscles.”?

That takes guts.
That takes fortitude.
That takes experience.

Where am I going with this? My teams and I got deep into discussion recently about the thorny topic of video on or video off during coaching calls.

From a client-centric point of view, the obvious answer is – if the learner wants the video on, have it on; if they want it off, have it off. But is the learner’s preference really what will drive the best outcome? 

For many, having the video on is nice. It builds relationships, it’s more friendly, people may feel more comfortable. It’s nice to know who you are talking with. 

But some people would rather save the cognitive load or simply be more relaxed and not worrying about what they look like. Some people just prefer not to be seen.

But not wanting to  be seen or observed seems a bit… shady. Are they doing something they shouldn’t? Are they multi-tasking?

So why then do we strongly recommend ‘videos off’ for our approach to coaching? Quite simply because we believe it’s the equivalent of eating your spinach when it comes to learning transfer. 

Our Turning Learning into Action™ conversations are about helping the individual have a conversation with themselves. It’s our thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs, fears and needs that drive our behaviour – the “under the surface level” stuff. The individual knows their own context (internal and external) more than anyone else. Getting them to slow down and reflect on what’s really happening for them, we need to have them going internal. It’s more about building a deeper relationship with themselves rather than building a relationship with the Coach they are working with. And this is even more literal when a conversation is being had with Coach M.

The real leverage for change comes from learning about themselves and learning the ability to answer questions, reflect and come up with ideas which may mean pushing past what they previously thought was possible. It unlocks the power of ‘I don’t know’: the leaping off point for new possibilities without judgement, which often makes it easier to be vulnerable. 

We want to instill the vision of going deeper with yourself. Trusting that you will find a way. Empowering people to generate new ideas and new ways forward. 

We want to help build leaders who are able to operate in times that are uncertain, where they need to be flexible, and tackle situations that they may not have come across before. We want to build managers that can think for themselves;, can add value to organisations by being creative. 

What if it’s the manager coaching? Would we still recommend videos off? Yes, with a clear signpost as to why. Set the frame for a different kind of conversation. 

What happens in reality? We frame all our pre-coaching conversation comms with an explanation as to why we suggest videos off. Ultimately if a learner comes to the call with video on, we start that way too and invite them to try and do something a little bit differently. Most then do. And for those that insist they would rather have the video on, it’s not worth getting someone off-side (person before process is one of our mantras!). But we open the door for having a different type of conversation. After all, if people knew the benefits of spinach maybe they would eat more of it!

At Lever we are feeling pretty proud of ourselves right now – Coach M 3.0 (as we are affectionately calling her) has just been relaunched and now has a very groovy GET COACH command where people can book with a human coach immediately. We always knew we would find the ideal way to combine the two fabulous parts of our business and it’s here. Gathering momentum in all sorts of directions, we have people booking goal setting sessions, three- way calls with a manager included, and our powerful 30 minute TLA methodology and Coach M being used for year long development programs and as a companion to learning. Do you ever have those moments when you know your whole career has been taking you to this point? For me, this is it!

We have limited spaces remaining for projects in Q1 next year – talk to us today to find out if we can support you with your organisational goals. I would love to have you with us on this journey.  Do you want to try one of our TLA sessions for yourself? Reach out and book a complimentary conversation. Video off of course!


PS – My nickname when I was in my early 20’s was Olive, as in Popeye’s girlfriend! I’m not sure if that was a reference to me or who I was dating at the time! I always think of spinach not only being good for you but being an absolute super power – just like when you experience our methodology 🙂 

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