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Issue #22

Creative Cloning
Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. 

Like many executives, Becky Zimmermann, a partner in Design Workshop*, thought that coaching might help her to clone herself. Among her other important responsibilities, she considered it her job to enhance morale in the intense, dedicated, culture in her office. However she was overburdened with many other activities.

Becky’s work was so specialized that it was often difficult to delegate it to others. She would sometimes even take back jobs she had assigned to others when they had difficulty completing their work.  Becky had been learning how to avoid taking back work when she devised a  morale raising scheme.

She initiated a " success award" in the Denver office of her firm. Becky chose the recipient of the first award, saying only that it was for someone who had done something exceptional. She deliberately did not define success. Instead, when she presented the award, she explained her reasons for honoring that person.

The whimsical award that Becky chose is a 28 inch tall wooden bird that she found in an antique store. The blue bird with orange and pink wings creates an incongruous decoration in the office or cubical of the recipient. It is impossible to miss.

Since one of Becky's goals was to make others responsible for morale in the office, She then instructed the recipient that he was to choose someone else to receive the award, and present it at a regular weekly meeting. The recipient was required to explain his reason for passing on the award. This set up a situation where every week the award recipient became  alert to what  the good things that others were doing in the office. The recipient took on Becky's responsibility for rewarding exemplary behavior.

One of the problems in the office was that people were working too many hours. Becky did need to step in and remind people that the award should not go to the person who worked the most hours. However she was careful not to assume the responsibility for passing on the award. 

Becky reports with delight that not only has she cloned herself in this arena, but five months later, the award is still gaining prestige and momentum. The bird has become an honored and cherished symbol in the office. The bird is even arriving at meetings dressed differently every week. The atmosphere in the office has changed, and Becky no longer feels solely responsible for improving office morale.

*Design Workshop, Inc is an international land planning and landscape architecture firm.  Becky specializes in Strategic Services – market feasibility, economic analysis and tourism planning for resort and urban environments.

Coaching tip: Enjoy being surprised and delighted when a highly creative client takes an idea and runs with it—and listen to one of Becky’s favorite tapes: Ken Blanchard’s “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.”

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Empowerment Systems When Change is the Challenge.

Jonathan B. Weiss, Ph.D., and Laurie Weiss, Ph.D., have helped thousands of people make significant changes in their lives. Working together at Empowerment Systems for 31 of their 43 years of marriage, they maintain a coaching, consulting, and psychotherapy practice in Littleton, Colorado, USA.

Copyright 2003, Empowerment Systems. Please feel free to forward or reproduce this Newsletter for any purpose, as long as you give detailed credit, including this copyright line; if you reprint it in a publication, we request that you send us a complete copy of it.

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