RTC Blog

RTC Scenario: Feedback on Twitter; What Would You Do?

Hello everyone and welcome to another version of “RTC: what would you do?”. Here’s today’s RTC scenario:

You are the executive coach for a mid-sized sports bar/restaurant owner, “Matt”. Matt is into many ventures and is probably best known for hosting a successful radio show. He is certainly considered a local celebrity and has recently become a national media host. He is active on social media and at the time of writing this scenario Matt has over 223,000 followers on Twitter.

Recently, a customer to his restaurant, “John” went to Twitter to provide some feedback to Matt on his recent visit to the restaurant. On Sunday 10-3-21 at 2:31 PM John tweeted: “@KSBarandGrille was told “we only have one cook, we didn’t expect to be this busy”. It’s Sunday during NFL season and they are a sports bar. What a joke.” At the time of writing this scenario John has 136 followers on Twitter.

AT 6:59 PM that same night Matt replied on twitter: “Tell you what John, we would love to have you come to the back and see how hard our cooks have worked this weekend during a huge worker shortage while we have been amazingly short staffed. Maybe salute the one cook we had working his ass off and don’t be a jerk.”

Matt has said several times, “don’t ever punch down, always punch up.” Your next coaching meet with Matt is tomorrow. As Matt’s coach, what are you going to do? I look forward to your thoughts, comments, replies, and questions.

I’ve Been Letting Things Slide. When Should I Take Action?

Today ends the first half of the year. Have you been “letting things slide”? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a trend I’ve been hearing from leaders since the pandemic…..They say to me, “Well, Ryan, her team has been short-handed.” Or, “I was just wanting to get through this season.” Or, “They were working remotely and I just didn’t do their review.” The issues are many and include everything from showing up late, to not getting work done, to not being proactive, to breaking team rules. No matter the story or the issue, they all involve people, standards, culture, and results. These issues are not new. They have been happening for years. However, employees and teammates have been “protected by the pandemic” and leaders have been letting things slide.

The best leaders inject themselves into the story, acknowledging they have let things slide and they are ready to fix it. You may be someone who is ready for things to get back to the way they were, but you have to untie some things that have gotten knotted up over the past year. The question is….Is it too late? How do I even get started?

Let’s get started by determining how urgent and important the issue is. I was introduced to the Urgent+Important quadrants from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A recent RTC participant (Thanks Alan) sent an article from todoist.com called The Eisenhower Matrix.

RTC takes a new look at this classic matrix by asking two questions:

#1. On a scale of 1-10, how Urgent is it this issue gets resolved?

#2. On a scale of 1-10, how Important is the issue?

If the total number of the 2 questions is 15 or higher, it’s time to take action. It’s that simple. (Ryan’s styles sidenote: If you have a naturally more Urgent style, you may need to adjust your scale up 2 points and if you have a naturally more Reflective style, you may need to adjust your scale down 2 points).

You’ve determined it’s time to take action, but you don’t know how to start. Every situation is unique, our process is the same. I will suggest two ways for you to get started.

#1. Here is a template to help get your mind unstuck and get your thoughts together. It’s called Prep For A Coaching Conversation. You should invest 10-15 minutes completing the 20 questions (you should recognize question #2).

#2. 6 months from now, you have fixed the issue and things are going great, what has changed? Your answer to this question determines your WANT for this issue. The WANT drives the action, the action delivers a result.

It’s time to stop letting things slide, recognizing what’s important+urgent, determining your want, establishing a RealTime plan of action, and being able to answer to yourself 6 months from now how things are going.

RTC Tip #34: Close the Loop with a Plan

A typical coaching cycle usually takes place over a number of conversations, often lasting weeks or months. Each conversation becomes a step along the path toward success (what you want). As a leader, you want to create ownership or accountability with your coachees by #1. Making sure each conversation ends with a SMART plan (see RTC tip #27: Create SMART plans) and #2. Begin each subsuquent conversation with a review of the progress made from the previous conversation’s plan.

During this review, it should be easy for both you and the coachee to determine if the plan was completed (often the answers can be as simple as a “yes” “no” or “a number”). Now, you have helped the coachee be accountable for working towards what they want to achieve.

The plan is called the achilles heel of the RealTime coaching process. What happens when you don’t have a SMART plan? The plan comes off track with distractions such as rehashing old issues, lack of clarity about what the coachee was supposed to do, and excuses. Basically, a lack of ownership or accountability.

The plan keeps the coaching conversation loop closed and progress moving forward.

Keep RealTime Coaching!

RTC Tip #25: Diagnose Before Prescribing

RealTime Coaching is based on Dr. William Glasser’s original works known as Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. Glasser was seen as revolutionary for actually diagnosing his patients before prescribing a treatment. In many instances, he found his patients did not have a medical condition at all, they simply needed a behavioral course correction.

Today, the best leaders and coaches still believe in diagnosing before prescribing. Actions, improvements, and results are ultimately the responsibility of the person being coached. However, when things are not working as planned, a coach should continually diagnose for problems. Here are four questions to help diagnose potential gaps.

#1. Does the person have sufficient awareness of the need for change? Do they even know there is an issue? Does the person understand the consequences for not changing? On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for the person to make the change?

#2. Does the person feel a strong enough sense of urgency? The coach may ask, “What do you think will happen if you continue doing the same thing you’ve been doing?” Sometimes a person is interested in change, but not committed to change. On a scale of 1-10, how urgent is it this change happens? Ryan’s note: If the 1-10 scores for these two questions add up to 15 or higher, then the person has deemed the issue both important and urgent enough to take action.

#3. Has the person created a SMART plan? A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.

#4. What has the person done differently? Have they taken any action? If yes, this new action is known as a “behavioral shift”. If the person has not taken any action, review their scores from questions 1 and 2 to be sure importance and urgency are high enough. If necessary, re-check the plan….Is any of the SMART criteria missing? What did the person indicate they would do? By when? Were there roadblocks or surprises? If they “don’t know”, a coach may ask, “What is more important to you than making this change?”

And the diagnosis continues. The best prescriptions come from the person being coached. Keep coaching.

3 RTC Tips from an FBI Hostage Negotiator

Chris Voss is a retired FBI hostage negotiator. I just finished his Masterclass on Negotiation. Here are three “sticky” questioning techniques you could add to your RealTime Coaching toolkit.

#1. Mirroring Questions. Mirroring is a way to ask a question by using the last 3-5 words the person says back to them in the form of a question to get them to expound on their statement. For instance, here is a conversation adapted from our RealTime Coaching book between two cavemen named Fred and Barney.

Fred: “Man, I’m starving and I’m sick of eating vegetables.”

Barney: “Sick of eating vegetables?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah, I’d like to get my hands on some meat from that beast out there.”

Barney: “Beast out there?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah. The problem is it’s huge and I may end up being the entree, but I’m starving.”

I have people say, “Ryan, I knew exactly what I wanted to say but I was thrown off by something the other person did/said.” Mirroring will help keep you on track because you must listen to the person as you’re going to repeat back to them their last 3-5 words to formulate the next question…..which leads to questioning technique #2.

#2. Labeling Questions. I have always been taught “when we label, we disable.”. This form of labeling takes a different context and it almost falls into the category of empathy or emotional intelligence. Labeling is a way of asking a question to elicit the true Want of a situation by using the two phrases “It sounds like….” or “It seems like….”. Picking up on our caveman conversation:

Barney: “It sounds like you’re really committed to this meal?” (Labeling question)

Fred: “You bet.”

Barney: “It seems like you’re ready to do something about it?” (Labeling question)

Fred: “Yes I am. I’m thinking about doing something tomorrow.”

#3. Calibrated Questions. Those of you familiar with WDIP will appreciate the calibrated questions. Calibrated questions always start with “What” or “How”. These types of questions help us uncover Wants, Doing and Plan actions. Chris says, “Stay away from Why questions as they naturally make people defensive.” Continuing from our example:

Barney: “What have you done so far to prepare?” (Calibrated question)

Fred: “I have been sharpening my weapon.”

Barney: “And what else?” (Ryan’s bonus question, the AWE question taken from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier)

Fred: “Well, not much really, I’ve been busy. I’ve been thinking about it thought. He’s just so big.”

Barney: “He’s so big?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah, I’m not sure I could even conquer him by myself. I wish I was bigger.”

Barney: “How could you make yourself bigger?” (Calibrated question)

Fred: “I don’t know.”

Barney: “I know you don’t know, but what if you did know?” (Another Ryan bonus question from Lee Hecht Harrison called Reframe the Picture)

Fred: “I wish I was twice my size.”

Barney: “What could you do to double your size?” (Calibrated Question)

Fred thinks for a minute and says: “Hey Barney, what are you doing tomorrow?”

And off they go….

Notice how Barney actually influenced Fred….by asking questions and “Do-With”. It would have been easy for Barney to give Fred advice (Do-To) or maybe even slay the beast for Fred (Do-For). However, Barney kept the responsibility of the opportunity with Fred and will join him tomorrow on the hunt.

Adding mirroring questions, labeling questions, and calibrated questions to your RTC toolkit will make you a more effective leader, communicator, and negotiator. Keep coaching.

RealTime Coaching Scenario

It’s a Matter of WDIP

I recently had a client (Steve) ask me, “Ryan, I need to ask you a coaching question. I think this is up your alley. I’m helping out this high school football player. He’s good. He wants to play Division 1 football, but physically he’s not that big, and I’m not sure he’s talented enough. He probably has Division 3 talent. His grades are excellent. What do you think I should tell him?”

I said, “Well, it’s a matter of WDIP. WDIP is our model that helps us move someone from where they are to where they want to be. We call it RealTime Coaching. Let’s put the model to the test and start with a WDIP inventory. A WDIP inventory analyzes how much we know about the situation and uncovers potential gaps.”

The “W” stands for “Wants”. I inquired, “On a scale of 1-10, how clear is he on what he Wants?” Steve immediately said, “10. He wants to play Division 1 football.” I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty clear.”

The “D” stands for “Doing”. I inquired, “What is he currently Doing to get that D1 opportunity?” Steve said, “Well, he’s playing good. He hopes someone sees him, but I don’t know if he has contacted any schools or made a highlight video or anything. On a scale of 1-10, let’s give it a 4.” We gave it a 4 not because he’s done anything wrong, we just didn’t know what he had been doing to get what he wanted.”

The “I” stands for “Is” as in “Is what he’s doing working?” This got an immediate “No” answer from Steve. At this point I said, “Well, in RealTime Coaching once we identify a gap like this we say his scales are out of balance because what he wants (play D1 football) is out of balance with what he is getting (currently zero D1 opportunities). In other words, what he’s doing is not currently working. Steve said, “Oh yeah, I see what you did there, but you said the model is WDIP, not WDI.”

The “P” stands for “Plan”. I asked Steve, “What is his plan?” Steve said, “I don’t know.” I told Steve, “This is where you will be of high value to him. Could you help hold him accountable to a plan? If he doesn’t have a plan, could you help him get one that meets RTC SMARTW criteria. And, remember if his plan isn’t working, it’s OK. Sometimes we have to change course. If something needs to change, he can either change what he wants, what he’s doing, or change the plan. Your job as his RealTime Coach is to help him work through the opportunity while he still owns his own actions, responsibilities, plan, and outcomes.”

Steve said, “Yeah, I will do that and Thanks man, you really know your sh*t.” I said, “Thanks man, that’s a real compliment.”

While the WDIP model works, there are a couple other key tactics I want to point out I intentionally used. First, I avoided taking ownership of the issue. While I have lots of experience working with athletes and I have some D1 contacts, I resisted the temptation to say something like, “Let me talk to him.” or “I could reach out to John and see what he thinks.” Also, you should notice the model is based on questions, not giving advice, I asked and Steve answered. If he didn’t know the answer, that was where he was going back to work, I didn’t answer for him. That’s how you use the WDIP inventory.

Join the movement in making the simple, practical, and valuable RealTime Coaching approach a part of your culture by contacting Ryan Lisk. Ryan@liskassociates.com

RTC Tip #28: Choose a Win-Win-Win Intention

The ability to effectively communicate with another person depends on how you are perceived by that person and how much trust that person has with you. People won’t change until they are ready to change. Likewise, you may be communicating with someone you barely know, someone you have known for a long time, your best friend, or maybe someone you don’t even particularly like. While every situation and conversation is unique, the RTC process remains the same. The end result intention is win-win-win. A win for the coachee, a win for their team, and a win for the organization. Notice in this win-win-win scenario there is not a “win for you”. When you create a win for the coachee, a win for the team, and a win for the organization, it will be a win for you. Trust the process.

RTC Tip #17: If They Don’t Care, Don’t Waste Your Time

“The time that you are wasting in attempting to coach people who don’t care is time that is stolen from helping people who do.” – Marshall Goldsmith

I am a certified executive coach for Lee Hecht Harrison. I use their coaching readiness scale to help determine the level as to which someone is open to coaching. I have adapted their scale to gauge the level to which someone is open to change.

People won’t change if they have no interest in changing. Change will be far more difficult when working to influence levels 1 and 2 than when working with levels 4 and 5.

Level 1: Defiance, negative, pessimistic, appears dis-engaged, not interested. Level 1’s are basically giving the middle finger to any change. If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.

Level 2: Also negative, defensive, but there may be some possibilities. Level 2’s may say things like, “This is a stupid idea, but I’ll go with it.”

Level 3: The wake-up call. If you’ve ever watched Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer, he’s the master of the wake-up call. He aggressively provides feedback to the bar and the bar has a choice given the feedback. They can get on-board and move up to a level 4 or 5 or they may not appreciate Jon’s approach and resist the change by moving to a level 2 or 1. I would imagine if we asked Jon to look at this scale, he would immediately be able to share stories where both happened. Many times the Level 3’s will be unaware there was an issue or maybe they knew it was an issue but it wasn’t yet urgent and important enough to take action. My friend and counterpart, who’s also one of the brightest minds in leadership, Jason Cummins, describes the highest-performing teams as “winning the middle”. If you need to win the middle check out: How To Flatten Your Own Curve During Change.

Level 4: I describe level 4’s as “Good soldiers”. They are on-board, they have commitment, they are present, and there is buy-in. They provide an overall positive vibe towards the change. They show real interest in improving and learning.

Level 5: Level 5’s contain many of the same characteristics as level 4’s with one major difference. Level 4’s are pulled by their leader and Level 5’s are pulling their leader. Level 5’s are proactive, leading the change, looking for ways to make the change even better, providing ideas and creativity and optimism toward the future.

Five things to remember:

#1. Not everyone is open to change at the same level.

#2. Start to gauge where everyone is individually toward the change.

#3. Win the middle by giving level 2’s and 3’s time to adjust.

#4. Continue to invest time with level 4’s and 5’s.

#5. Stop wasting your time at level 1. If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.

5 Stages for Making a Shift to RealTime Coaching

RealTime Coaching (RTC) will positively affect an organization’s culture and multiply it’s effectiveness with it’s simple, practical approach to communicating with others.

“RealTime” means issues are handled in RealTime – now, in the present. Realtime cultures invest the majority of time working on the now with a focus on the present and the future. RealTime spends very little time on the past. RealTime learns from the past, bud doesn’t dwell in the past.

“Coaching” is our word for the process of getting you from where you are today to where you want to go.

Implementing a new approach to communicating with each other is hard. It will take some time and effort. Getting where you want is not luck. There’s a process for making positive changes RTC uses from Lee Hecht Harrison called the behavioral shift.

The shift takes place through 5 stages.

Stage 1: Awareness. Awareness often comes from feedback. Sometimes, the feedback is minimal and doesn’t make an impact. If you keep getting feedback, at some point, there will be a tipping point when it’s time to do something different. How do you know if you’ve reached the tipping point? Imagine a balance scale.

On one side of the scale is “What you want” and on the other side of the scale is “What you think you’re getting”. When those are in balance, a shift is not needed because you’re getting what you want. However, when the scales are out of balance enough to reach the tipping point, it’s time to do something different.

Here’s an example: What I want: An organization where we work collaboratively on challenges and opportunities and we treat each other with respect while being able to give our honest opinion on ideas. What I’m getting: An organization where some people just give orders, others enable bad behavior, there’s no accountability, no creativity, and no new ideas for fear of repercussions. At what point are you willing to take action to get you what you want?

Stage 2: Acceptance. Acceptance occurs when you agree that action needs to be taken on the feedback you have received. Warning: While you may be ready to do something different and have acceptance, others may not be on board. There are five individual levels of acceptance from 1-5. Suffice it to say, you must first be ready and wanting to make a shift (these are levels 3, 4 or 5) before you will actually do it. Acceptance levels 1 and 2 will argue, find excuses, and be defensive about making the change. Can you think of anyone on your team or in your organization who fusses about change?

You can find more on the levels of acceptance here: If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.

Stage 3: Skill Development. Skill development is acquired through experience, training, and education. This is where you learn the new skills. For instance, if you wanted to learn how to play golf, you wouldn’t go play a pro on your first day. Similarly, if you want to build a RealTime coaching culture, you will need to train on the language, the questions, practice RealTime scenarios, and allow time for the skills to develop. You will need practice before “taking it from your seat to the street”.

Stage 4: Behavioral Shift. At some point, after some amount of skill development and practice, you will make a shift. It’s “exciting” when it happens. Others who work closely with you may tilt their head, they will notice you trying something different, a new approach, a 2.0, an upgrade. It will feel new, different, awkward, klunky, etc…This is why this stage is described as “conscious competence”. You are aware you’re trying something new, but it’s not natural. Here’s a very simple example: Starting meetings on time. If you have become known for starting meetings late, make a commitment to start your next meeting on time and watch your attendees’ reactions.

Stage 5: Mastery. Mastery occurs when the new behavior feels natural. It’s no longer you trying something different, it’s just part of what you do. Once you have been starting meetings on time, it will evolve from “the new you” to “just a meeting”. Once you reach mastery, don’t let your guard down as you will notice this model slopes upward, meaning it’s easy to slip back down and go back to your old ways of doing things.

Positive change is not based on luck, use the shift model when implementing new behaviors to help keep you, your team, and your organization on track.

To implement RealTime Coaching within your organization, contact Ryan Lisk. ryan@liskassociates.com

The 4 Questions that will take your Communication to the Next Level: WDIP

Putting the RTC model into action requires communication between at least two people AND at least one of the person’s scales MUST be out of balance.

If these two conditions are met, you should tune to radio station WDIP. WDIP is the acronym for the four basic questions which make up the RTC conversation.

W = What do you Want? “Wants” are based on your personal interests, driving forces, and motivations. Thought-starter: What makes “What do you want?” such a challenging question?

D = What are you Doing? “Doing” is observable behavior or action taken to close the gap between the result you want vs. the result you believe you’re getting. Thought-starter: What are some answers you may hear when you ask, “What are you doing?”

I = Is what you’re doing working? The difference between what you want and what you believe you are getting provides the motivation for “Doing”. This is called self-evaluation. Thought-starter: Why is self-evaluation considered the cornerstone of RealTime Coaching?

P = What is the Plan? Achieving a different result requires either changing what you want or what you’re doing. The plan is the accountability portion of the model. Thought-starter: Why is the Plan considered the Achilles Heel of the RealTime Coaching process?

If you are in a situation where you’re not getting what you want, consider taking a WDIP inventory. For each category, determine how clearly you understand the situation by giving each category a 1-10 clarity ranking.

Example, “On a scale of 1-10, how clear am I on what I want? How clear am I on what the other person wants? How clear am I on what the other person is doing?

RTC Hack: You are always more clear on what you want than what you are doing. You are always more clear on what the other person is doing (you can see it) vs. what they want.

Bob Smith once said, “We judge others by our best intentions and we judge others by their last worst action.” By using WDIP, you will begin asking better questions while not making erroneous assumptions.

To find out how to develop an RTC culture in your organization, contact Ryan Lisk: ryan@liskassociates.com or call 859-421-7966.