Opening the can of worms

I am enjoying my learning journey with Allyship. I strongly believe creating Allyship within organisations is one of the transformative changes for the 21st Century Organisation. However, this can only happen if we start to get more comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations.

In my career I have typically worked in male dominated industries and, more often than not, I have been the only female in the room. Being part of an interview panel has been an interesting place, where many times candidates have treated me very differently to the other panel members. From being mistaken as the tea lady (?!), to derogatory comments like ‘love, duck and good girl’. I’ve had candidates direct their answers to my questions to other panel members and candidates feeling the need to ‘dumb’ down their answers for ‘the lady in the room’ (yes this has been said to me more than once). I’ve had eye rolls at the questions i’ve asked and eye contact definitely not being at my eyes! The scary thing is, these experiences are within the last 5 years.

These memories were brought to the surface recently following a conversation with a friend the other day. They were sharing their experience following an interview they had supported as a panel member. My friend was telling me about some of the things they had experienced during the interview. What surprised my friend was at the end of the interview, when the candidate left, all panel members commented that the behaviour directed to my friend was inappropriate. They had all witnessed it, felt the same thing, yet said nothing ‘in the moment’. I asked my friend, ‘Why didn’t someone say anything at the time?’ My friend replied – ‘Kathryn, you can’t be serious, you can’t open that can of worms in an interview!!!’. Instead, my friend was subjected to 2 hours of racist and sexist behaviour, all because ‘you can’t open that can of worms in an interview’.

This really got me thinking… it’s all well and good me saying to organisations you need to create Allyship, this is what people need to be doing etc.. etc… when actually we have constructed a number of social norms and etiquettes that we mindlessly follow without question. Why in the situation above, was the candidate’s ‘power’ placed above that of a colleague of the organisation?

I think it’s because sometimes this stuff can be quite subtle. You weigh up if the behaviour is ‘bad enough’ before saying anything. You assess if you feel safe enough to take the interpersonal risk (see last week’s blog post on team psychological safety). So when other people recognise and say something, your intuition is validated and you speak up i.e. in the wash up session after the interview when panel members started to disclose how they felt my friend was treated, everyone agreed!

When you are on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour, you do a mini-assessment as to what you are going to do about it. One of the things I do, is look around the room to see what my colleagues are doing. Do they appear to notice or be bothered by what is going on? So often, I’ve told myself you mis-heard Kathryn, pick your battles, don’t be silly or you’re being too sensitive, grow thicker skin. Which means a lot of things have gone unchecked. However, in the handful of times when someone else in the room has spoken up, my goodness it’s powerful – almost a relief! It feels supportive, reassuring and is a very validating experience. Yes, the ensuing conversation has been uncomfortable, but it’s enabled a dialogue about what is going on. It has allowed self-awareness to be raised and behaviour to improve, in that moment. You give someone a chance to correct their actions, because we all get it wrong sometimes. There is a strength that is felt when colleagues speak up and say – ‘this is not okay’. But people very rarely do it … We can’t keep leaving it to our colleagues who are subjected to these behaviours to keep raising this stuff all the time. We need to stand with and call out – we need to take more interpersonal risk.

How can we get comfortable with being uncomfortable in ‘opening the can of worms’?


We are intuitive beings so if you are feeling uncomfortable, the chances are other people definitely are too. If your intention is to help the group have a more constructive dialogue and to create learning from the actions of others – say something. Don’t let the behaviour become “the way we do things around here” or “that’s just how [insert name] is”. If you are coming from a place of help and support it will make the conversation a lot easier.


Asking open questions is a great way to navigate the proverbial can of worms in an exploratory and curious way. Questions have a powerful ability to aid learning – What? How? When? Who? When? Describe… Tell me more…

  • What did you mean by that?
  • I’m feeling uncomfortable by what is being said here – how can we continue our discussion in a more constructive way?
  • “When you say x,y,z what do you mean by that?”
  • “This is how what you said came across to me…. Was that your intention?”
  • “I’m not finding these contributions helpful, what is the real issue here?
  • “I find that comment/behaviour hurtful/unacceptable and this is why….”

[Questions adapted from the work of Juno Dawson and Karen Catlin]

Be willing to talk it through

The key to these discussions is just that – being prepared to talk it through. Being open to talking it through and listening to the other person. Too often our fear of conflict means we quickly rush to move out of the uncomfortable zone – “let’s move this offline”. If your intentions are about supporting learning and growth from the situation, be open to listening, understanding and talking it through.


Leaders of organisations need to give permission to their colleagues that calling out inappropriate behaviour and having these ‘uncomfortable’ conversations is okay and expected. Colleagues need to see their leaders doing it themselves. In the example of the interview, I suspect panel members didn’t say anything to the candidate due a sense of not feeling ‘allowed’ to say anything. So making it okay and giving permission to do this is really key.

I would love to hear what others think on this, how can we change the social constructs within organisations to make it safer for these conversation to happen? What can we do to question the social norms created in organisations?


‘Saving Face’ the silent killer of team performance

Photo by Ibolya Toldi on Pexels.com

I came across the concept of team psychological safety over a year ago. It’s something that really resonated with me, mainly from my own experience of being a team member,  leading my own team and more recently in my work with teams.

As I get stuck into my research on team coaching for my MA in Coaching, the debate on whether team coaching is most effective when focused on team tasks/processes/strategies or the relational/interpersonal dynamics is a really interesting one. The more I read about team psychological safety, the more I’m starting to think that this is a keystone for teams. I feel without it, focussing on team tasks/processes/strategies isn’t going to be as impactful. 

Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School is the key researcher and author in team psychological safety. I’m very alive to the fact that I have started to become her biggest fangirl and I’m in danger of simply regurgitating her work to you – but there are some really practical findings in her research that I feel are worth sharing with you all.

Google have also found psychological safety to be a key indicator of high team performance.

So let’s start by exploring what is meant by team psychological safety …

It’s completely normal that we want to appear smart, capable and helpful in the eyes of our fellow team mates.  In fact, it’s our natural preference to seek to avoid any behaviour that may lead to embarrassment, rejection or being disliked. To avoid these situations we make numerous micro-assessments each day on whether it’s ‘safe’ to take a risk in what we say and do with the people in our teams. If we sense it’s not safe and there could be a threat of embarrassment, rejection or negative consequences from others, we typically say nothing (Edmondson, 2019).

We don’t ask for help, even though we know we need it.

We don’t admit to mistakes, even though we know we should.

We don’t say if we disagree or have an alternative view, even though the outcome would be more innovative or better performing.

We don’t raise our concern, even though it could avoid an error being made.

Instead, we ‘save face’. We  protect our image. The consequences of doing this, leads us and our team to underperform, we feel dissatisfied/frustrated and we potentially put others/the organisation at risk, in some cases with fatal consequences. 

85% of people studied could recall at least one occasion where they felt unable to raise a concern, even though they believed the issue was important.

Amy Edmondson

If your team has low psychological safety, performance is going to be hampered, innovation and creativity will be stifled, continuous improvement non-existent and people are going to be struggling.

This is where you start to see low motivation, morale and disengagement – which typically leads to absence, turnover, inefficiencies, poor quality, missed deadlines and low productivity.

More troubling, the team will not have the ability to deal with the scale and rate of change, challenge, ambiguity and complexity that the world of work demands from us.

What does a team with high psychological safety look like?

Without fear we…

  • say what we really think and feel, we bring up issues, problems and concerns happily  
  • share a different viewpoint and disagree, with the ability to discuss it and explore and build on viewpoints with curiosity 
  • freely admit a mistake and failure, without it being held against us 
  • say if we lack knowledge, without worry of being seen as incompetent
  • ask for help and support, with team members being willing to assist
  • appreciate, recognise and value the skills that each team member brings 

We can only do this if we respect and feel respected in return by other team members. If there is trust. If we  feel confident that team members will not hold what we say against us and we care about each other as people. 

Is it just about being nice?

Edmondson is really clear psychological safety isn’t about just being nice or having fun – “it’s not about agreeing for the sake of being nice, it’s  not about unequivocal praise or unconditional support for everything you have to say. It’s about candor, making it possible for productive disagreement, free exchange of ideas, enables people with differing views to speak candidly about what’s bothering them – there is a willingness and ability to engage in productive conflict so the team can learn, perform and be better from different points of view” Edmondson, 2019. 

What can we do to improve it in our teams?

The benefit of teams having psychological safety is hopefully apparent and is a ‘no brainer’ for organisations – so what can you start to do to cultivate psychological safety within your teams…

The role of the team leader

Even in organisations where there is a strong culture, values and great ways of working Edmondson found there will be pockets of high and low psychological safety. This is because it’s a team phenomenon. So the role of team leader is fundamental in starting to cultivate this environment. How often (in the words of Stephen Covey) do you seek to understand, before being understood? How often do you welcome new ideas and explore them? How often do you ask for help/share your fallibility?

Team Meetings 

Think about how you are running your team meetings – How are connections being created? How is the meeting facilitating equal opportunity for everyone to speak? How are reactions to mistakes, issues, concerns dealt with? How are new ideas listened to and built upon? 


How often are you reflecting on situations and experiences and thinking about what went well and what you could do to make it even better? One of the ways we learn as adults is to take time to reflect on our experiences – What is stopping you from saying what you really want to say when you are with the team? Why are you feeling that way? What part can you play in making your team ‘safer’?

How DBKT can help!

We are a people consultancy who work with businesses to elevate their leaders and accelerate team performance to thrive in the changing world of work. 

The services we offer are:

  • Getting your leaders fit for the future – through learning and development and 1-1 coaching 
  • Unlocking the power of your teams – with team coaching and innovative problem solving
  • Aligning your people practices – to underpin the investment in your leaders and teams to support, reinforce and embed the changes you are making today, to meet the challenge of the future

Get in touch…

I would be very happy to talk more about team psychological safety and your team or leadership challenges!

Drop me a message on dbktcoaching@gmail.com or call me on 07443438204


Edmondson, A. (2019) The Fearless Organization, Creating Psychological Safety in the workplace for learning, innovation and growth. Wiley:New Jersey 

Edmondson, A. (1999) Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol.44, pp. 350-383


Getting back to basics: What’s the offer?

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a conversation with a purpose. It’s a conversation that is led by you and covers what is useful for you to talk through. A coach will ask open questions to develop your thinking, listen and allow space for silence so you can process your thoughts/feelings, they will help you look at things from different perspectives. They will also share insights to support your thinking and learning. At DBKT coaching we will also work with you to develop goals and actions.

What can you talk about?

You can bring challenges you are facing or experiencing. You might be feeling stuck or confused, your thoughts might be jumbled and unclear. You might have big dreams and what a space to help you plan how to reach them!

Some typical things that come up are:

  • Realising career ambitions
  • Accelerating performance
  • Stepping up into a leadership role
  • Organisational change
  • Challenges of scaling up or scaling down an organisation
  • Culture change
  • Getting the best from your teams/people
  • Individual change / transition
  • Career planning / transition / change / confusion!
  • Challenges / problems you are experiencing
  • Feelings of being stuck, confused, frustrated, angry
  • Feelings of stress and overwhelm
  • Complex, urgent problems
  • Team issues

How does it work?

We would have an initial chat about what you would like coaching for and how we might work together – checking that it feels a good match.

Following on from our first chat, if we are both happy to move forward, we would organise 6 sessions, with the first session being more of a getting to know each other session. We can agree how the 6 sessions are planned and over what time period.

At DBKT our coaching practice is grounded in Adult Learning theory, so you would be required to do reflective practice between sessions – don’t worry it’s fun!

Benefits of coaching?

  • Independent person to speak to
  • It’s a safe space to be open and honest about what’s going on for you
  • It’s for you – how often do we take time out for ourselves?
  • Tailored to your individual development and learning journey
  • Helps un-jumble and un-tangle your thoughts and thinking to provide clarity and a way forward

Why work with DBKT?

Do be Kind and True are our core values – in coaching it’s a courageous conversation where we will be talking through some hard stuff, which we need to do with kindness and truth, to learn, change and grow.

We coach with Curiosity, Challenge and Creativity.

We have leadership experience from a range of industry sectors.

We have HR experience and knowledge of people and these insights can help you in your journey.

We know that we might not be the right match for everyone, that’s okay – we have a great network and will help you find someone who is right for you, as that’s the main thing!

If you would like to talk more, get in touch at 07443438204/ dbktcoaching@gmail.com

Why invest in coaching?

One of the key questions I have been asked is ‘Why would an organisation or individual invest in coaching at this time?’ Being in the middle of a pandemic, where we have entered into a recession and businesses are struggling to stay afloat, some are closing, reducing headcount and cutting costs – it’s a valid question!

My answer = investment in coaching is needed now more than ever, to support individuals, teams and organisations to bounce back, to not only survive, but thrive.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

When dealing with crisis and survival, the business response is to focus on the immediate tactical actions and activities that need to take place such as: closing offices, redundancy processes, scaling back of costs and expenditure, rationalisation of products/services etc… The next phase is to ensure those changes are successful, to bounce back and start thriving again. Therefore, the next phase has to focus on people. Their behaviours, leadership, motivation, engagement and ways of working, to help them overcome, adapt and reengage, to move forward. But budgets are tight. Any investment needs to deliver more for less and at pace. This is where coaching comes in, it’s cost effective and timely with high impact results.

Team Coaching

The days of the competitive, individualistic, heroic and expert leader are over. With the scale and pace of change, in our volatile and uncertain world, the power of performance and competitive advantage is within the collective knowledge, skills and experience of our teams. An organisations strength will come from the collective sum of their teams.

However, very few organisations invest in their teams, typically only holding ‘one off’ events like team building and training, which research has shown has very little evidence of impacting team performance (Katzenback and Smith 1993; Wageman et al. 2008). See my previous blog on What team building really looks like – https://wordpress.com/post/dbktcoaching.com/226

Team coaching is cost effective and is a high impact development intervention, which can help organisations to recover and thrive. It also develops key skills and ways of working that will stand organisations in good stead for the changing future of work, which is self-managed and networked teams.

Individual Coaching

Having one to one coaching enables you to explore and develop in areas that are relevant to you and your journey, which can be immediately applied to your life and work. Training courses are often generic and whilst useful, don’t cover the individual feelings, thoughts, challenges you are experiencing.

I’ve also noticed that COVID has presented an existential crisis for many of us. It has been a period of deep reflection and reassessment of how we want to live and work. It has invoked for many, the need to live a more purposeful life, with more meaning. This has generated a shift and change in people, where they are looking to tread a different path, to the one they were journeying along. One to one coaching can support with processing these thoughts and generate actions for next steps along your new adventure. It can also help to unjumble and clarify the confusion that COVID may have sparked within you, to figure out what you really want to be doing.

Resilience is another key factor, my heart goes out to Leaders and HR professionals at this time who are dealing with unprecedented and turbulent times, which is unrelenting and ever changing. Everyone is looking to HR and Leadership teams to provide clear direction and reassurance, which over the last 9 months has been an impossible task, with the ever changing and often unclear guidance from Government. Having a confidential and safe space to process your own thoughts, feelings and emotions can really help to restore resilience and get leaders and HR professionals back on track and feeling confident.

A large number of people have also lost their jobs and finding a new job role may be proving challenging. Coaching can help with processing this change, helping you to figure out what you want to do next and set goals/actions to aid your career planning and job search.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

A few people have said to me this is a crazy time to set up a small business, but I feel it’s exactly the right time – providing this level of support for leaders and teams is needed now more than ever.

At DBKT Coaching we work with leaders and teams to thrive in the changing world of work, so organisations can achieve their purpose, and by doing so deliver great results. We offer leadership and team coaching.

Get in touch with us at DBKT Coaching on 07443438294 or email dbktcoaching@gmail.com.

Follow us on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/dbkt-coaching or on Instagram @dbktcoaching

Change – how you react when the warm bath turns cold…

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I was thinking about reactions to change the other day. To help my reflection I used a metaphor of being in the bath (one of my favourite things to do) and how this relates to my experience of change – it’s a strange metaphor to use, but stick with me!! I feel it drew out what I think are some interesting and hopefully helpful observations!

Imagine one day you are taking a bath, like you have done so many times before. The water is warm, you have the space to get washed in, plenty of time to do it and you have all the bubbles and nice smelling soap you need to do it – ah bliss!

However, before you know it someone comes into the bathroom and explains they need to add some people into the bath with you, they also need to add some cold water and other changes are being made to aspects of the wider bathroom.

(Yep, change can feel this uncomfortable, personal and scary!)

How do you react?

Do you listen and hear what they are saying, or are you so annoyed your nice bath is being disturbed you stop listening…

Has the critical voice in your head taken over with indignation, outrage and anger. Is it shouting at you to resist, defend and fight any changes to your comfortable routine, circumstances and environment – because no-matter what they say, change is bad, you are going to be worse off – you can’t see how you wouldn’t be.

Do you jump straight to Persecution – Who can I blame for what is happening to me? Who is at fault here? Who must pay the price? How can I complain?

Do you become a Victim – this always happens to me, it’s because people don’t like me, they’ve always had it in for me, why is everyone so mean to me, I deserve better than this but I’m always treated badly, why can’t I ever catch a break…

Do you become Self-righteous – if I was in charge I wouldn’t have done that, I would do it this way, I would do things so much better, I know better than them, they don’t know what they are doing, why are they doing this, this is being handled so badly – don’t they know anything!

(Or do you cycle through all three?)

Where is your focus?

  • the here and now – you zoom in on what is happening right here, right now, to you in this moment
  • the future – you zoom out, take in the wider context, assess the possibilities? the opportunities? what might be?
  • the negative – you frame the situation on what is bad? what is wrong?
  • the positive – you frame the situation on what is good about the situation? what I am grateful for? what is staying the same? what can I learn from this? how can my past experience help me?

Which focus will stand you in good stead to overcome the changes?

What mind-set will give you the best possible chance of adapting to the change?

Change is not personal. Yes, it impacts your personal situation, but far broader business, economic and financial factors are at play.

DBKT Coaching

What action do you take?

  • Do you seek to understand why the changes have been made?
  • Do you reflect on whether you should have been led in the warm bath for as long as you have been?
  • Do have an attitude of gratitude that you are still able to have a bath, you now have company and you still have the ability to get washed?
  • Do you work with the people who have been added to your bath and come up with more innovative, creative and fun ways to get the job of washing done more efficiently?
  • Do you jostle with the other people to get more space? Do you get yourself into a space where you have ‘won’ more space but to the detriment of others who are even more uncomfortable?
  • Do you spend time splashing water at the person who added the cold water and people to your bath? (Hey, at least getting them wet makes them experience a fraction of the uncomfortableness you are experiencing)
  • Do you complain, moan and bitch to the other people who have joined your bath about how awful and unjust the situation is so they get ‘on side’ and you create an toxic group, a bath full of unhappy people splashing others in the bathroom, not being overly effective in your task of getting washed and making a lot of mess in the process?
  • How do you view the other changes being made in the wider bathroom? Do you care about what is going on outside of the bath tub, do you engaged with these changes? or because you are still cold and uncomfortable, you don’t care about the wider context and the opportunities this may bring?

So… what is stopping you from getting out of the bath, if you hate it so much?

  • What is stopping you from finding alternative ways to make a success out of your new situation/environment/conditions?
  • Have you thought about why the person added these conditions to your environment? Walk in their shoes to gain another perspective?
  • Are you expecting someone else to come along and sort this out for you? Why might you be expecting someone else to do this? What changes can you make? What is within your control?
  • Are you waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’? How realistic is this? What impact does waiting have on you?
  • How could you innovate and collaborate to turn the new situation into something more successful and even better than before?
  • Why are you looking at what you have lost rather than what you have gained i.e. two new bathing buddies?
  • How does blaming the person who added these conditions serve you? What is splashing them really going to achieve? What impact is it having on them?
  • How can you use the changes happening in the wider context of the bathroom to serve you?
  • What do you need to be at peace with the change?
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Very often, when change comes and disrupts our comfortable way of doing things, we view it as personal, we resist and fight for the status quo to remain. We don’t appreciate the wider context. We don’t see what others may be trying to do to help us. We don’t see the opportunities within change. We take it personally, we seek to place blame, we want others to ‘pay’, we hold a grudge and we expect others to make it better for us.

We have to change this mindset if we want to thrive in the fast paced, changing world that we live and work in. We need to experience, process and move through the emotions that change triggers within us, otherwise we become stuck, unhappy, bitter and cynical.

It’s not the change itself that causes pain, it’s the way we think about it


In a complex world, where we are not operating in absolutes, and there is no right and wrong – you might be right and I might be right, but a decision has to be made one way or another. Where change is ever present – we are and will continue to be disrupted in our routines and comfortable ways more frequently. It is vital we develop coping mechanisms that will serve us well and don’t diminish our power by taking up unhelpful stances and positions (persecutor, victim, self-righteous) which breeds bad feeling and toxicity within ourselves and others. We need to learn to adapt and change in a more positive, grateful and accepting way for the sake of our mental wellbeing and ability to thrive.

The world and the people within it are imperfect but the opportunities for growth are vast

Garcia & Miralles

There is a lot of change happening at the moment. Leaders play a key role in supporting their people and teams through times of change. But you have a fundamental responsibility for yourself. You are the leader of your own life. You have the freedom to choose your thoughts and actions. Lead in a way that serves you and your wellbeing best.

Do you recognise yourself in this metaphor – are you stuck and you want to move through the changes that are happening to you in a more positive and proactive way? Are you are leader and struggling to move your team through changing times? Get in touch and let’s have a chat about how we can work together to support you, your team and organisation to thrive in a changing world – email: dbktcoaching@gmail.com


Being in HR, in a leadership role and “putting myself out there” – my resilience is tested fairly frequently. I have needed to strengthen and develop my resilience reserves to face the many and varied challenges that come my way.

It’s tricky being a female in senior positions in business, especially if you are working in male dominated industries. You are expected to either be a motherly figure or adopt masculine behaviour. When you don’t fit into either of these expectations it’s difficult to fit in and for people to understand you. So for a long time I’ve put defences and barriers up, which disconnected me from others and dampened my sparkle, losing my sense of self.

As I’ve learnt and grown from the storms I have weathered, I’ve recognised it is important to be resilient in a way that keeps me true to my values and doesn’t harden/hide me from the world – vulnerability is good, but that’s one for another day!

Over the last 6 months we have all needed to ‘up’ our resilience to keep going through the challenges this pandemic has brought, which have felt at times relentless.

As we recover from the pandemic we will need resilience even more to pick ourselves back up and emerge even stronger than before.

So, with this in mind I thought I would share with you what I’ve been doing to bolster my resilience to keep going – just in case it helps you in strengthening yours…

Growth Mindset and Reflective Practice – being open to learning from the lessons that life is teaching, is my first go to. Taking time to reflect on situations, to consider what has gone well and what could have been done even better is my first step. Then looking at how I’m feeling and exploring why I am feeling the way I am, helps to deepen my reflections. By taking time to do this, it helps me to learn from my experiences, change my mind sometimes and improve to be better.

Existentialism – it’s not the situation that is hurting me, it’s the way I am thinking about it that is causing the pain. Checking in with thoughts and reframing these is a key exercise. So to is recognising that I have a choice over my thoughts and I have agency to take action over the things within my control and I need to let go of the things that I can’t.

Values – I learnt this from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, if you are operating from a place of good intent and in accordance with your values this provides a map for your actions so you can review and sensecheck that what you are doing is in accordance with them.

Feelings – when resilience is low a wave of emotions hits which can feel overwhelming. It helps to recognise that feelings are temporary, they move through us. So reminding myself that how I am feeling is temporary and that it will pass is helpful. I have also recently learnt about Brackett’s RULER model to help with processing emotions so I can recognise, understand, label, express and regulate my feelings so I can move on and keep going!

Ikigai – ‘you have to accept the world, like the people who live within it, is imperfect but it is still full of opportunities for growth and achievement’ Garcia and Miralles. Life is random and no one is perfect. Recognising that I’m not perfect and I will make mistakes, like everyone else, is important to gain perspective. Having Ikigai, my reason for being and my purpose at the forefront is important to keep resilience high to overcome and find ways around difficult and challenging situations, to not give up!

Compassion – having empathy and compassion for others, even if their viewpoint is different or negative towards you is really important to me. Feeling compassion and empathy for others is much more healthy for learning and growth than negative thoughts that sap energy, consume vital brain space and create a toxic mindset. “Walking in others shoes” is a brilliant exercise to help understand others viewpoints and create compassion for how others are seeing and feeling about a situation or person.

Mindfulness – my mantra is ‘in this moment I am fine’. Staying in the moment rather than worrying about future ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ is key to managing the anxiety and panic that can start to bubble within me in challenging situations. Bringing myself back into the moment and using breathing techniques can really help to quiet the mind so I can focus on positive action to take me forward rather than wasting time in panic and inaction.

Gratitude – having an attitude of gratitude. Counting my blessings, focussing on the good things and saying out loud all the things I am grateful for helps put things into perspective. We all, me especially, have a tendency to focus on the negative and practicing gratitude helps to gain perspective and focus on the positive. Someone said (can’t remember who) that it’s proven in neuroscience that a positive brain is more creative and is better placed to solve problems, which is what you need when facing challenges that require resilience.

Drama triangle – this is my absolute favourite ‘go to’ model. Checking that I’m not in the drama triangle helps to snap me out of taking up unhelpful positions on things. Nobody does anything positive when in the drama triangle space, so getting myself out of victim, persecutor or rescuer mode is essential to engaging the logical part of my brain to move me forward.

Find your tribe – it’s sad, but true… not everyone is gonna like us, our style, approach and practice, it is not going to be for everyone. This means finding and surrounding yourself with people who love what you do and think you are awesome. Your tribe will be an invaluable support when resilience is running low. They will help you get back on your feet and running with more vim and vigour than you’ve ever had before! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and reach out for support.

Coaching – having a safe space to talk about the challenges I am facing and dedicating time to work through them is an instant power boost for my resilience. I’ve found being coached in times where I need resilience invaluable. It is so powerful and has enabled me take action from a position of confidence and rational thought.

The most important thing to remember is we bend, we don’t break and on that note I’ll leave the final words of wisdom to Queen Bey…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Doing good in the world can also help with resilience, as such this is a shameless plug for GLC Resilience Coaching (http://www.gemmalouisecoaching.com). Gemma is a Resilience Coach and her mission is to help people overcome their difficulties and come back stronger by reconnecting with themselves in a whole new way and using that knowledge to rebuild a life and future that they can look forward to.

Gemma has launched an amazing campaign where she is aiming to sell 5000 Resilience Bands in order to raise money for three charities in the UK. You can purchase a Resilience Band at https://escbracelets.com/product/the-resilience-band/

Team Building – what it really looks like!

Most of us will have experienced forced fun ‘team building’ activities – which typically tend to look like this (with lots of mandated high fives) …

In my experience I don’ think I have genuinely come across anyone who really enjoys these activities with work colleagues – it is normally a bit cringe! I have also observed that these types of events are actually quite exclusive. They isolate team members who are not particularly athletic, who are quiet and find social situations like this uncomfortable.

I have also noticed that people struggle to see how doing say, orienteering in the pouring rain, leading someone blindfolded through a wire maze or falling backwards into a colleagues arms, has anything to do with their day job, making them better at it or indeed helping them to work better with team members.

These team building activities are also pretty expensive and are a significant investment for organisations, so team building is typically constrained to once a year… if that!

You would think that for the sums of money these team building activities cost, the return on investment would be quite high. Whilst they make great promotional pictures, what you tend to find is when the team gets back into the workplace, there are a few funny stories but very little has been done to build trusting relationships, change ways of working to meet the challenges ahead and people go back to exactly how they always worked before.

Don’t get me wrong there is a place for these types of activities, having fun together is important. It is great to get to know people outside of the workplace setting and there is a ton of research around how sharing food together is a fantastic way of breaking down barriers and getting to know people. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am very guilty of historically organising many a cheesy team building event and activities!

However, my eyes have been opened to a different and more effective way. Over the last 18 months I have found building great teams actually looks like this….

C4S Search leadership team hard at work solving a strategic business challenge

“Oh no… It looks like another boring meeting I hear you cry” – this is not just any type of meeting, this is team coaching. More specifically, this is what action learning looks like.

Research by a number of people such as Marquart, Senge and Cauwelier has shown that working together on a real and urgent business challenge that the team has autonomy to solve and take action to resolve is where the magic lies in building great teams. The process creates a space where psychological safety can develop, a learning mindset is encouraged and effective relationships are built.

The approach is also inclusive, ensuring all voices are heard and diversity of thought is encouraged and celebrated.

This approach is very cost effective, with a great return on investment. I have observed first hand how the learning transfers into ways of working back into day to day work. The team develop the skills and ability to use the methods with each other. This leads to a more effective team and further strengthens relationships and trust. The result of which is higher performing individuals, teams and ultimately organisation.

At DBKT coaching we work with leaders and teams to develop essential skills for the changing world of work.

Building and developing great teams is our passion, as we believe for organisations to achieve their purpose and deliver great results the power of great teams makes you unstoppable. The future of work is not about ‘super chickens’ – it’s all about the team! (check out Margaret Heffernan’s you tube video ‘why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work’)

If your interest has been piqued, get in touch as I would be more than happy to talk further with you about this!

The journey has started…

The 1 September 2020 marked an important day for DBKT Coaching. We officially launched and what a way to launch, with an amazing team coaching session with a fantastic team and organisation.

Before I tell you all about it, in true DBKT spirit, I want to be completely honest with how this is all working at the moment. So, I am continuing to work in my HR role which I love. I am very excited about looking at our future ways of working and continuing our important conversations and work on Equality and Diversity.

I am also, with the full blessing and permission of my amazing and progressive workplace, founding and growing DBKT Coaching where my focus is on leadership and team coaching to develop great leaders and teams to be ready and able to meet the challenges of the future of work!

I am already learning so much and I am really excited about the future. I am passionate about coaching and with 15 years experience I have seen the value it adds to organisations to elevate leaders and teams to thrive and deliver their purpose, especially in these times of fast paced change!

Coaching is needed now more so than ever. The fourth industrial revolution of the knowledge economy was already driving changes to the way organisations, teams and individuals organise and behave to survive and thrive. With more organisations changing their models of working to recover from COVID and the economic situation we now face, our ability to learn and change to meet the scale and rate of change is essential to survival.

At DBKT Coaching we work with leaders and teams to adapt and thrive in the changing world of work, so organisations can achieve their purpose and by doing so deliver great results.

Kathryn Jeacock, DBKT Coaching

The 1 September was a great example of our work…

C4S Search has had a tough 6 months and like most recruitment agencies was initially impacted by lock down, when nearly all organisations stop recruiting overnight! What I love about C4S Search is their sheer grit, determination and unwavering positivity. Whilst it has been tough for them, they have continued to be motivated and enthusiastic about delivering their purpose.

Our journey together started with Executive Coaching with the Co-Founder and Managing Director, Ryan O’Hara. Over 6 very productive, energetic and insightful sessions we covered a lot of ground, really exploring and working through key strategic business challenges. From this work, Ryan determined the next step was to get the leadership team involved and he wanted DBKT Coaching right there with him supporting this next important step – yay!

So on Tuesday, we ran a team coaching session with the leadership team. I really enjoyed meeting and working with this energetic, passionate and forward thinking team. We worked using action learning to step through a complex, real and urgent strategic business challenge. Whilst doing this work we also developed key leadership skills that will be essential for C4S Search in leading and engaging their people now and in the future. The session also further strengthened the relationships and psychological safety within the team, which is fundamental for any high performing leadership team, especially in these challenging times.

The day achieved the objectives we set out to deliver. Each of the team had clear actions to take forward as a result of the session and there was a sense of team ownership about delivering and implementing the actions agreed.

What they said about it…

Extremely productive day working on some very exciting leadership and growth strategies

Ryan O’Hara, Co-founder and Managing Director, C4S search

A truly refreshing and (most importantly) productive session

James McAbendroth, Head of Strategic Partnerships, C4S search

Really insightful and inspiring day with lots of ideas generated to ensure we continue to build for the future

Amy Bright, L&D and Talent Manager, C4S search

Get in touch

If you would like to talk more about how DBKT Coaching can work with you, your team and organisation please get in touch – 07443438204 / dbktcoaching@gmail.com

The Future of Work

My daughter tells me when she is older she is not doing what I do. She doesn’t know what she is going to do, but she knows she is not working Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm, under the control of a boss – she finds the whole concept bizarre. She also finds HR completely weird, why do you need policies and processes? When you are old do you not know this stuff, can you not make decisions yourself? I catch myself telling her she is going to have a rude awakening, that she needs to knuckle down because bills don’t get paid by spending your life on social media (at this point she is quick to reel off names of social media influencers who do just that…) Then it hits me, is my daughter looking to do a job that doesn’t exist yet? If so, how is she going to prepare for that? Is the world of work prepared for her?

She is certain life is going to be so different to today. In fact, she doesn’t understand why it hasn’t changed already. How she interacts with technology and people is completely different to how I do. She finds me and the world of work old fashioned and outdated. As my ‘critical parent’ gets triggered again… I realise I need to stop. And listen. Dismissing her is not going to serve me or her. I need to really listen to what she is saying. Why? Because like it or not – she has a point. She is the future.

So here I am, on a mission to change the world of work, by working with leaders and teams to transform. In my reflective moments, I realise my life would be so much easier if I stopped trying to push the boundaries. I would experience far less heartache, isolation and frustration – I say I am going to quit all the time… but I don’t and I can’t. I am so passionate about what I do. I 100% believe in it and I absolutely love it.

What keeps me going, I have purpose. I am doing this for my daughter. I want her to realise her dream of what working will be like (which we all probably had). I don’t want her to be forced into an outdated and not fit for purpose mould of the 1900’s way of working that we do today. I don’t want her to have to choose between family and a career, between having a life and earning money, between doing what you love and what conforms to social norms. Most importantly I want her spirit, sparkle and creativity to be fully unleashed on the world, rather than squashed and dampened into a rigid and constricted modus operandi.

And let’s be honest, don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want to work in that way?

We need to start now, we have to stop repeating the same old pattern, it’s starting to creak at the seams and it is going to totally break in the near future if we don’t change. To create the conditions we need, we can’t keep waiting and talking about it, we have to start now – COVID has forced us to work differently and guess what… it works.

What needs to change?

  • Where and when we work – the days of Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, from one location/office are numbered. It’s also proven our brains do not work most effectively within these hours! Working where and when you need to, to deliver the best results is what will count.
  • Who we work for – working for one employer, with a rigid contract, job title and job description won’t work. We will work for multiple employers, on assignments, based on the value we add and the expertise we bring.
  • How we work – with the scale, pace and complexity of the world, no one person can be an expert in everything. The empowerment of networks and teams will be essential. Teaming and collaboration will be the key to high performance, delivery and success – the rule of the hierarchy, control, status and expert power bases will be over!
  • Equality – despite the days of command and control management being frowned on for a while now, typically our ways of working, systems and processes are set up in this way. Equality and the empowerment of people will be how work gets done. Hero leadership and the infantalisation of employees will not work and frankly won’t be tolerated. Responsibility, accountability, trust and treating each other as adults will create the conditions for success, innovation and enriching experiences.

The future is really exciting, it is going to take a lot of change to get us there so resilience, perseverance and openness to learning will be key to keep on the journey to realise a better future.

The first step… of course I would say Coaching and Action Learning!!! But they are powerful tools to empower, develop and to start to create these conditions. I am also developing my knowledge and experience in Team Psychological Safety and Team Coaching – creating the conditions and developing behaviours for ‘teaming’ are really important for future success.

I’ll keep you posted on my mission, I am sure I will ‘fall, learn and build’ (Tucker 2020), many times over but I can’t be passenger on this journey, I’m in, who is with me?

I am always happy to talk and ‘geek’ out about this stuff – if you would like to talk more , get in touch at dbktcoaching@gmail.com.


Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

I haven’t posted in a while as I haven’t known what to say that would be useful for people, in a world where we have a deadly virus and the senseless killing of George Floyd. Trying to make sense of the world, and the people within it, has been difficult. Furthermore, fear of the saying the wrong thing, has caused me to say nothing, which is the worst thing I could have done.

The world – like the people living within it – is imperfect, but it is still full of opportunities for growth and achievement

Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Introducing Allyship

Today (14 June 2020) I attended a powerful conversation led and facilitated by Lou Chiu of Lou Chiu Coaching and Consultancy (https://louchiu.com/). The session was about ‘Making sense of Allyship’. What made this session so powerful, emotional, challenging and thought-provoking was the raw, honest and brave stories shared by the participants, under the amazing leadership and coaching of Lou.

Key insights for me where:

  • Diversity Fatigue – the feeling you get, tensing of shoulders and the deep intake of breath, when equality and diversity initiatives are mandated and feel like ‘tick box’ exercises – everyone’s HR bug bear
  • Racial Battle Fatigue – the tiredness and exhaustion from continuous micro-aggression experienced on a day to day basis. To illustrate this Lou shared an experience she recently had – when signing for a parcel the delivery driver said to her ‘your English is so good, what are you?’, in response Lou thought to herself ‘Am I in a space energy wise to call this out and have this battle, when no-else in the room will stand with me’ (thanks Lou for letting me share this story)
  • Advocacy – where groups are not invited or part of the discussion, you actively involve people from that group to input/share their experience. For example – HR writing a policy on flexible working, when the person/team writing the policy has no experience of children or caring for a dependent. Getting input from people/groups with lived experience should be actively sought
  • Representation – having someone who identifies with a particular group and can talk about the experiences of that group

When you are in the position where you can get different groups involved, be an ally – create the space for people. Create the space so people can feel safe to represent their group and their views.

Make the Space, Make the Case

Lou Chiu

What does Allyship mean?

Allyship is not an identity, it is a philosophy that requires a person to take informed action against all forms of bias and discrimination.

Taylor (2015) from ‘Activating change through allyship’ defines Allyship as ‘no matter how you identify, being an ally means honouring unique experiences and championing respect, in your own way’.

In his research into Allyship in sports, Taylor (2015) found that Athlete Allys created change when they:

  1. Initiated dialogue
  2. Encouraged peers to confront inappropriate behaviour
  3. Spread the message

The power of the bystander really hit home for me, in the delivery driver story Lou shared. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, they found that without people being prepared to stand with and call out when they see this type of behaviour ‘gateway behaviour’ develops.

Gateway behaviour, as defined by HBR, is when people look the other way during an incident of low-level harassment, which allows the harassment to intensify over time. By intervening early, at the first sign of a red-flag moment, bystanders can break the cycle and prevent the problem from worsening (HBR 2020)

Juno Dawson (2014) provides a framework that works for me for speaking up –

  1. Question – What do you mean by that?
  2. Understanding – This is how it came across to me XXX, was that your intention?
  3. Institution – The [insert name of workplace] is a tolerant place, you can’t say that
  4. Feel – I consider that offensive/upsetting/inappropriate

The key is doing what you feel comfortable doing and being authentic to you. Only challenge if you feel safe and happy to do so – don’t get into confrontations or put yourself at risk

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud

Maya Angelou

GROWTH MINDSET – Always be learning…

The biggest learning for me is that getting it wrong is better than saying nothing.

When I do get it wrong, it will suck for me and those involved, but it is better to learn and ultimately be better.

Sound-bites that will stay with me

As mentioned above, the stories shared by others was transformational for me – here are some quotes that will stick with me…

“Talk to, rather than walk by”

“Try to keep learning rather than not act for fear of how others may see you”

“Do your best, be brave and be active”

“Keep the conversation focused on sharing stories, kindness and humanity”

Lou Chiu

I understand, I will never really understand, but I stand. I am committed to learning and doing what I can to be an ally. I know I will make mistakes but I want to learn, I want to be better.

Get in touch with Lou Chiu

Lou is a culture and relationship coach. Lou uses the combination of lived personal and professional experiences, academic curiosity and values-led drive to help businesses and not-for-profits untangle existing complications in the workplace, manage conflict between personal and professional spaces, and translate the different languages that
are used in relationships at work,at home and with stakeholders.

As well as her coaching practice, Lou is also a Trustee at University of Suffolk Students’ Union, a mental health advocate with ambitiouswithanxiety.com, a MA Coaching and Mentoring Practices student at Oxford Brookes University, and a cofounder of City Centre Games, a local gaming community to bring curious and tentative gamers together.

Get in touch with Lou at: hello@louchiu.com

For more information visit: https://louchiu.com/

About me

You can get in touch with me at: dbktcoaching@gmail.com