Coaching Insights & Trends with BetterManager Coaches David Andrews & Tommie English (Ep. #75)

Published on
April 25, 2023
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Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #75: Meet BetterManager Coaches David Andrews & Tommie English

In today’s persistently challenging business environment, having a thought partner to help reframe feelings and reflect on experiences from a new perspective can be invaluable. At BetterManager, our top-rated community of coaches serve in this all-important role for managers and leaders at every level within organizations all over the globe. 

On this episode, we are joined by BetterManager coaches David Andrews and Tommie English to discuss the latest insights and workplace trends they are seeing from the managers they coach, share why experience is often the best teacher, and provide a unique lens into our approach to 1:1 coaching. 

Join David, Tommie, and Wendy as we discuss: 

  • Directed coaching and how bringing one’s wisdom, professional experience, and education into every coaching relationship can be a game changer. 
  • The “gift” of feedback and how 360 surveys help managers see themselves from all sides
  • Embracing your authentic “whole” self at work and within the coaching relationships
  • Manager burnout and other trends shaping today’s workplaces

Meet David Andrews & Tommie English

David Andrews has been coaching with BetterManager for 5-plus years and has been a coach for nearly a decade. Based in Washington, DC, David works with individuals and teams globally, leveraging his background in international development, banking and finance, communications, and education. David loves the creativity and connection of his work as a coach. 

Tommie English has been with BetterManager for nearly two years and has been a full-time coach for four. Based in Houston, Texas, Tommie has an extensive background in leadership having worked for nearly two decades in the financial services at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is an executive coach and certified facilitator who works with leaders and individual contributors in organizations to help them have unleash potential and have maximum impact. Tommie is also engaged in several programs that promote women in the workplace helping them to rise and have more confidence in themselves.

Key Takeaways

Why BetterManager’s Directed Coaching Approach is a Critical Tool for Growth:

  • Directed Coaching allows coaches to brainstorm solutions with participants, offering suggestions instead of just asking questions. 
  • Unlike consulting, which provides specific solutions, Directed Coaching is more collaborative; it’s about exploring opportunities rather than dictating next steps. This is why working with a coach who has significant experience themselves can be so valuable.
  • It’s especially helpful for individuals new to manager roles who, as Tommie highlights, often need clear and explicit direction when entering people management roles for the first time.
  • At BetterManager, coaches leverage their full experience, education, and expertise, serving as a thought partner to those they coach. It is why the company’s requirements and standards for its coaches and facilitators are among the most stringent in the industry.

Finding Clarity in Chaos: The Power of Reflection for Professional Growth and Success

  • Self-reflection is a critical part of one’s individual growth. It helps to identify their own biases and blind spots and to understand how they can better support their team members.
  • David suggests that managers should set aside time each week to reflect on their practices and ask themselves questions like, “What went well this week?” and “What could I have done differently?”

Feedback is Invaluable

  • Feedback provides an opportunity to reassess, get a new perspective, gather your thoughts, and formulate a new plan if necessary.
  • At BetterManager, feedback is an invaluable part of one’s leadership and growth journey.
  • In this episode, David, Tommie, and Wendy specifically discuss the role and benefits of BetterManager’s 360 survey.
  • Wendy emphasizes that feedback should be constructive, specific, and focused on behaviors that can be changed. She also stresses that managers should be open to feedback and actively seek it out.

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View the episode transcript

Intro  0:02
Welcome to Building Better Managers, the BetterManager podcast with Wendy Hanson, where we talk with top leadership professionals about strategies you can use today to create a happier, highly engaged. and more productive workplace. Now, here's your host BetterManager co-founder, Wendy Hanson.

Wendy Hanson  0:23  
Greetings, everybody, it's so great to have you with us today. It's an amazing time and a challenging time for business right now, and the economy. But we can still move things ahead and businesses. During these times, it's so important for managers to have thought partners, we call them thought partners, because that's really what you need to be able to understand and reflect yourself. And that's our coaches, because we'll help support, strategize, and help people find their own answers to the challenging questions they're facing and get some input. So today, I have two of our brilliant coaches, I'm so fortunate that we were able to have them join us Tommie English, and David Andrews. And they're going to share what they're learning about what people are talking about with their coach, not only now in a bit of a challenging time, but what they were saying before, what's the help that they give, so that everybody really understands what coaching is, and what coaching isn't.

We'll discuss some of the trends that will help managers and develop and learning and development and HR leaders to give them more insight into what the opportunities are when they invest in people. And the challenges globally, that will happen. But this investment piece is important. And we'll go into that coaching doesn't fix people, we send people because we want to invest in them. And that David and Tommie have worked with amazing people. So let me tell you a little bit more about them as they're sitting here on the screen with me. Yes, so I'll introduce them. So David Andrews has been coaching with better manager for over five years, and has been coaching for nine years. He's an executive coach who works with individuals and teams around the world. Located in Washington, DC David has a background in international development, banking and finance, communication and education. David loves the creativity and connection of his work as a coach. The community of coaches that BetterManager is one of his favorite places to hang out and and his favorite people and I think that speaks to a lot of our coaches. And I'm sure they'll mention this as they're talking about coaching. Tommie
English. Thank you, David. Tommie English has been with BetterManager over a year and a half and has been a full time coach for four years. She's located out of Houston, Texas, and has an extensive background in leadership, having worked in financial services and with nonprofits. Tommie is an executive coach who works with leaders and individual contributors and organizations to help them unleased the potential and have maximum impact. Tommie is also engaged in several programs that promote women in the workplace, helping them to rise and have more confidence in themselves. Welcome, Tommie. Well, I'm so excited about this today, because there's a lot of wisdom in the two of you that we will be able to share with managers and HR and l&d leaders everywhere. So as you both know, we have very high standards for our coaches.

Tommie and David, I'd like you to talk a little bit and share with our listeners about your background as a coach, but really your background in business and and your management experience because it's so important for the work we do. Tommie, I'd like to start with you. Can you can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your business background?

Tommie English  3:59  
Sure Wendy. As you stated before, I had been a coach for four years. But prior to that, I worked in financial services for 20 years and in that role had several roles leading customer satisfaction, employee experience, leading operations and leading globally in that organization, and also had the opportunity to be number 76 to be promoted to a senior vice president and an organization that had over 240,000 employees. So lots of extensive experience in the financial services arena. 12 years in the nonprofit nonprofit services arena. And really working with people people have always been my passion so people leadership, individual contributors, and I've been able to do that as as, as I have transitioned out of the corporate environment into doing coaching, and I've had an awesome opportunity working with BetterManager when

David Andrews  6:00  
get other folks trained, and help people communicate effectively. I, my most recent corporate work as a full time person before I went independent and became a coach was with the World Bank, and I was with them for 10 years, helping teams look at ways to be effective. So it was really a team coaching kind of approach. And I got to travel all over the world to work with bank staff teams, and help them look at ways that they were doing amazing things and figure out ways to be even better at what they're up to. So I've been coaching now for nine years. And for me, I was at a place where I wasn't sure what I was going to do career wise, and getting connected to a coach myself, was a game changer. And I loved the conversation and wanted to do that, for me and for other folks. And here I am. And I'm having a terrific time and really loving the community with BetterManager.

Wendy Hanson  7:07  
Oh, that's great. As you can all hear both Tommie and David have such extensive experience in business, and have played the role inside companies so that then when they coach people, they're really able to bring some of that expertise because they've lived that. And that's there's no better manager, coach that gets hired that doesn't have that kind of business experience. But I have to say these two are really exemplary how what they've done and and what they've reached in corporate life, it's so great. So at BetterManager, our goal is to help managers thrive and impact the teams and the organization. People not familiar with coaching think you need to be experienced in the sector where we're coaching, we get that from a lot of folks that say, Are they an engineer, too, and you don't need to be an engineer to coach an engineer. So David, can you talk a little bit about that about what our work is really about? And why you don't need that subject matter expertise?

David Andrews  8:09  
Absolutely, yeah, it's actually one of our gifts sometimes is that we don't have that, that expertise. And it helps us to bring a level of objectivity to the conversation.

I'm not helping them build nuclear submarines, for sure. And their ability to be effective at what they're doing their presence, their connection to other people and making sure that that's working as effectively as possible, and that they're feeling good in the process. That's what it's really about.

Wendy Hanson  9:07  
Yeah, great point. Would you add anything to that, Tommie?

Tommie English  9:11  
Yes, Wendy. I would say that I'm in the business of people. So as long as there are people, it doesn't matter if they're in supply chain, or they work for the government, or wherever that the industry is, if there are people and if there are managers, then I'm the right person for them. I get lots of clients where they are talking about their business, and I can't understand what they're talking about. Because of my business experience. I can understand when they're talking about a project or coming up with a project plan or how to show up at a meeting or speaking confidently and I can understand that without understanding any of the jargon that they're using about their company. So the experience I think that we bring to the table is very helpful, because we can understand the language without knowing what they're talking

About, and then we can ask those good questions. And we can do some directive coaching as well, because we have that experience and working in huge organizations and working with lots of leaders in different areas. So I agree with David totally.

Wendy Hanson  10:16  
Thank you for bringing up the label directed coaching, because that's really a BetterManager thing directed coaching, you know, all of our coaches are have gone through a program that is certified by the International Coach Federation, which we really respect. But we also add on because we work with so many senior leaders, they need more than just traditional coaching, they need people like you that have been in the field and can understand and share a little bit of the experience and not not as a consultant. But just here's an idea, you know, here's something I learned. And the more all of us coach other people, the more we learn, because we learn from others. And then we can pass that seed on, I think, which is really important.

David Andrews  11:00  
It's a really nice model to Wendy, when I think about modeling good leadership, and creating the conditions to bring more of ourselves to the conversation. And as BetterManager uses his directive coaching format, it allows me to say I've had this experience, and here's how that looked. And I hold it loosely, I'm not telling them what to do. I'm giving them some insight and some perspective. And it allows more of me to show up in the conversation so that they can bring more of them to the conversation.

Wendy Hanson  11:37  
Yeah, that's such a great point. Because the feedback that that the folks we serve those managers give at the end, is always about how this impacted their life. And it impacted their personal as well as professional life. When you learn how to communicate better, all of that is so important. So it's a really, really good point. And at BetterManager, we want people to thrive at work. And that's really important. But right now, there's some trends that you might be seeing, because the economy is having some issues, you know, what are the things that and then we'll go back to what you were talking to folks before the beginning of 2023. But what are you hearing right now from people that you're supporting folks, you know, that are going through a bit of a challenging time of self. Tommie, you want to start and then David will add his.

Tommie English  12:30  
So currently, what we're hearing, and I want to piggyback off that last conversation, too, with a directed coaching, it really comes into play when we get new managers who've been promoted from maybe an individual contributor role, and they suddenly been put into a people position. They really want some how to, or what have you experienced versus exploring the possibilities because they don't know where to go from the beginning. So I see that a lot with new managers. And as I'm talking about new managers, what we're seeing is new managers who are coming into the workplace as managers and maybe not getting as much support as they need. And I talked to a lot of managers who are struggling with setting boundaries, right. And so then when there's no boundaries, that leads to burnout. So that's one of the primary issues that I hear with clients is I'm feeling burnout, I don't feel like I have balance. They're working 12 to 16 hours. And this is whether they're working at home, which is a part or whether you're working in the office, but even at home, I have clients who are saying, you know, I'm not getting the physical energy, I'm not getting the emotional energy, because I'm spending 12 to 16 hours at work. And then most of the time that stems back to not feeling like they're able to set boundaries and not feeling like they have a voice to do that.

Wendy Hanson  13:59  
Yeah. That's important. Yeah. And that burnout. We've been hearing that from a lot of coaches recently, because it is trying to do more with less, David, any thoughts on that?

David Andrews  14:12  
I love that, that you're bringing up boundaries. Tommie, I think that is such an important piece of the conversation that seems to come up over and over again. And for people to have a chance to talk with the coach, where they can measure their sense of effectiveness around managing boundaries, outside of the culture of their company, I think is unbelievably valuable. They get a chance to say yeah, I do get to take care of myself in ways that are not only going to help me thrive, but it's going to help me do a better job when I get to work too.

Wendy Hanson  14:49  
Yeah. And we all know we talk a lot about neuroscience at BetterManager, you know, because when people can understand what the brain is really what's happening. It really

David Andrews  16:18  
There's a sense of giving them permission sometimes, to be able to take care of themselves to slow down to speed up, that's often a theme of the conversation. If I can slow down, know myself well, take excellent care of myself, attend to my relationships, I can do even better work than I'm doing. I can be even more present to the experience, too.

Wendy Hanson  17:08  
Yeah. And I hope, you know, as you're coaching managers, and they're getting the benefit of you giving that advice to them, that then they're able to go to the their team members and say, you know, you have to take care of yourself first. And in this busy, busy world, that doesn't always happen. But it would be wonderful if they would take those lessons, and then be able to say, yeah, I really need to do this for my own team and remind them because they'll be more productive, they'll be happier. And you know, one of our themes that better managers help people thrive at work, and we take that very seriously. So Tommie, as a thought partner and a coach, can you share the impact of coaching folks who share the experience that you have had being a person of color? I know that we get great feedback from HR and l&d leaders that are so happy to be able to no matter what somebody's background is to pair them up with somebody who has had that experience too. Can you share a little bit about what that's like for you and for the people that you serve?

Tommie English  18:15  
For me is it's very exciting, because I have been in their shoes, I have been, you know, the only one that shows up that looks like me, and wonder, you know, are there others. And when I get a client that comes on, and sometimes we do a lot of zoom virtual, and when they come on and they see me I see a sigh

David Andrews  19:08  
There's a little bit of a negative bias that I think a lot of us have when we come to an assessment, and we want to look at, what can I fix? And in that conversation, I think it's a great time to get the manager thinking about where are my strengths? What are the things I can rely on, and to really, I sometimes have to really force that piece of the conversation because they want to look at what's not right, what's not, right. And we can do an entire development plan based on strength, and claiming strength and doing that in a way that's clean air and clean ego. And it gives people around us, then the permission to do that as well. So that our teams, our peers, our managers, get the the go ahead to to say, I'm good with people, I'm good with communication, and to be able to say that in the way that I can say I have brown eyes, these two things are true. I'm not taking up more headspace for for going there.

Wendy Hanson  23:07  
Yeah, thank you for bringing up strengths, because we are a strength based organization. You know, we really, and and you're so right, when people think of having a 360 they think, Oh, somebody's just gonna tell me all the things I do wrong. So it's not very comfortable. But it's really like, what could you improve upon for the sake of the business. And then if every manager knows the strengths of their team members, you know, then they're able to put people in the right spot, you wouldn't take somebody who is who really doesn't want to go out and be with people all the time, send them to a networking event to show up for the company, because that would not be fun for them. But somebody else it would be their biggest joy ever. Let me do that. So Tommie, what would you add to that?

Tommie English  23:51  
I love the fact that we reinforce that the 360 is confidential, it only goes to the client and to us as the coach to debrief it with them. And that they can share what they want with their manager or with their director or with their peers. But it's a gift. That's how I see it. And that's what I tell them. This is a gift of feedback. And take the time first, to go through it and give me your perspective and feedback on what are you doing really well. What are people saying to you? And getting them to repeat that out loud? Like I'm this, I am this I am that, like how does that feel? Right? Because like David said, we usually want to jump down to the things that we need to fix. But we don't often take enough time to marinate in the things that we're doing really, really well. And then there are some things I say what on there that shocked you and what's on there that was a pleasant surprise. So really trying to get them to think differently about it, and what's true for you and there's some things on the

They will say it's not true or I haven't done that, okay, well, it's true for somebody, but how important is it for you, and then it gets into that goal setting because we can't solve the world in our coaching sessions, but we can hone in on specific goals that you want to set to be a better manager based off of feedback based off what what you already know, based off the strengths that they have already been identified and your feedback, what meaningful goals do you want to set? So I think it's a beautiful opportunity for our managers to set those girls.

Wendy Hanson  25:37  
Yeah, well said. And, and for those that might not be that familiar with coaching, you know, when you when you have a session with your coach, you know, the last few, what are you taking away from this, because sometimes it's a surprise, right? What we think they might take away, they're taking away something totally different. And then what are your next actions going to be so that you can check in in a few weeks, because that's how coaching moves the needle. And I think that format has been really, really helpful, that we have a few weeks between sessions so that you can go do the work, and then come back with your coach,

Tommie English  26:12  
a lot of them walk away with this Northstar, because you do a best practices for them right around how they should be operating as a manager, and they get to compare themselves to see how they are. And so many of them say, I'm, I'm gonna keep this, because I'm gonna keep working on being a BetterManager and having some good best practices in order to be the best version of a manager and leader that I can be. So that's an awesome part of the 360.

David Andrews  26:43  
The questions that you were asking Tommie, make me think about how you know what shocked you what was a pleasant surprise, how we get to model good feedback, and model a good conversation around sharing feedback, through curiosity, through giving lots of space, through getting a sense of, you know, how did this set of data feel to you? What, what does it feel like? What's the story that you're taking away from this set of data? And it?

I don't know that I thought about this so clearly before, but it is both the chance to be with them in the experience of their feedback, but really, to show them. This is something that's very connected to have this conversation, and it's a chance to be a partner, to the people that you manage, and here's what it can feel like, hey, it's a it's usually a really lovely conversation. Almost always. Yeah,

Wendy Hanson  27:44  
We've coached 1000s of people Yes. And very, you know, there's a very small number that that this is not a good experience for the rest of them. Yeah, I've seen too. They're pleasantly surprised. It's like, wow, people, people think that about me, you know, and then you become when what we appreciate right gets bigger. And so then they really are, oh, wow, if they liked that, I'm going to do more of that. Very inspiring. So as at BetterManager, one of our goals, as we mentioned before, is to help people thrive at work, from your perspective, what is it that you do to help people thrive? We've gone over a few things, but a chance to kind of really underline that what what kinds of work do you do with folks that help them thrive? David, you want to start?

David Andrews  28:34  
Yeah, I often use this metaphor of building a fire, you know, if you're building a campfire, you don't start with the tree, you don't start by setting a tree on fire. And it works really nicely for thinking about building psychological safety. And that process of saying, you know, how are things where you are, what's the weather, like, even nobody cares about the weather, but it's a way of checking in on what's real for you, and what matters to you. And while we made it through the weather, let's go through something a little deeper now. And the process of having that conversation with the client, and letting them know that they have the room to help create the conditions for their people to show up more fully, and bring more of themselves safely and you know, hopefully, feeling great. It's going to make the whole experience much greater for everybody. Everybody feels good, and the work is that much more fun and better work to

Wendy Hanson  29:44  
better work. Yeah. And it's that trickle down effect right? Because there may also share it and I love it when we hear that people are talking about what it takes to be a good manager, you know, after their coaching calls with other managers, because that's conversation we want,

David Andrews  30:02  
there's something in there too about the safety of showing up as a whole person in the conversation with your coach to say, I am not two different people, I'm not the work me and the out of work me, I am a whole integrated person. And maybe today I want to talk about a relationship that's happening outside of work. And it informs how I show up everywhere. So that that piece, I think, is a wonderful

Tommie English  30:30  
perspective to bring to the coaching conversation to say, you have this wonderful benefit of the support of this coaching call through your employer. And this is all about you being a whole human and having a good time with that. Yeah, Tommie, is David was talking, I think it's important. When our clients come on, I let them know, you set these goals, maybe based on 360 feedback, or based on something that you wanted to work on personally before you started. But you get to set the agenda. When you come on, you get to set the agenda, you get to say what you want to focus on, right. And as part of helping our clients to thrive. And so many times I get clients who come on and say, Hey, I know we were working on this, but I'm dealing with this issue right now. Can we kind of like, go in and explore that? And I'll ask what what do you want to achieve? You know, and they will tell me, and that's okay, so a series of questions. And, oh, I didn't think of that, oh, that's a different perspective. And just listen, I think that's, that's the thing that we bring to the key. So many people say, Nobody listens, they don't feel heard, and it don't feel seen. And I think as a coach, that's what we can provide to them. I'm listening, I see you, I hear you, I care, I care deeply about making sure that when you get off of this call with me, and that you walk away, feeling like you're carrying something that helps you to be lighter. So

it's just an awesome experience to me, and allowing people to show up authentic authentically and saying, hey, it's just you and I were on Zoom, if they choose to go off camera, you can turn the camera off, particularly if they're getting emotional or whatever, you could turn the camera off, or I can be here with you in the motion. Right. So that's what I love.

Wendy Hanson  32:32  
Yeah, and, and coaches, certainly, in training, really learn to create that space, so that people can feel safe. And, and that's probably a different environment than they feel. And hopefully, they are taking the coaching skills that you are modeling and then bringing them to their team. You know, we do have some, you know, learning and development programs that we we teach coaching skills, and and we teach those essentials, like essential conversations and how to give feedback and, and your career development. So there are lots of ways to learn. But all of the things we do a BetterManager is bringing people together, even if they're in a training to share ideas, you know, during the training and after the training, because that's where the goodness happens. Yeah. Any final thoughts? Yeah, go ahead, David.

David Andrews  33:25  
There so much about keeping it real? Yeah. Tommie was talking about removing the mask. And it's a place that is the height of safety at its best. And people get to keep it real and show up exactly where they are. And it's phenomenal to have someone who shows up and says, I see you right where you are. And let's go from here. Yeah, oh, that's great.

Wendy Hanson  33:55  
Well, I can't thank you both enough for taking the time and so many great points that you put out there for people to really understand what happens in the coaching relationship. And not only what happens to the person you're coaching, but what happens to the coach, because that's a great kind of mirror, you know, that we do for our clients is be able to mirror their emotions and help them look at things. Any final words before we sign off and let people deliberate this in their head and hopefully go take positive action.

Tommie English  34:27  
Wendy, I just want to thank you and the team because we get to be better coaches and help develop better managers because we have an awesome opportunity to create the relationships and have community with the coaches that are a part of that or manager and we get to share ideas and learn together. And that's really important to me. So thank you know,

Wendy Hanson  34:52  
it has been a model we've done from the beginning that has really worked, you know, because it gets lonely, you know, as you were saying even In a senior job in a corporation, it gets lonely. And as a coach, it would get lonely if you had nobody to bounce ideas off of. David.

David Andrews  35:08  
Yeah, that the community, a better manager among the team is something that sets veteran manager apart by far as a place to work. And a place it's having great impact, because we partner in community with our managers that we work with as well. And you can really feel the vibe, I mean, there is a resonance about working with better manager that is different. And it's great. And it is just a delight to be part of this team. And I thank you,

Wendy Hanson  35:41  
oh, well, we are so appreciative, I can speak on behalf of everyone in the organization. So appreciative of the work that the two of you bring to the table and all your fellow coaches, it's a it's everybody works together to help each other lift to climb. Everybody does a great job at that. So thank you all for listening today. Wow, I hope you took as much out of it as I took out of it. You know, I'm so proud of the people that that are in our organization and the difference that we can make in the world. So if you have any questions, you can always reach out to me on LinkedIn when the Hansen or when they a bettermanager.co. And if you can go on and give us a little feedback on this. If you look at whatever you're listening on, give us feedback. That would be wonderful. So thank you all. We hope you have a great day and hope you have some action items that you're taking away from this conversation. Because coaching is all about taking a few actions take a few steps forward. So hopefully you got that today. So thank you all so much. Have a wonderful day.

Intro/Outro  36:48  
For more information, show notes and any downloads for today's podcast, please visit us at bettermanager.co/podcast Be sure to join us again and help us continue to build better managers with another insightful interview.

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