What do intercultural communication, leadership training and coaching for career trauma have in common?
I wasn’t sure either when I started Shift Management in 2008 after leaving my third career. With a recently minted Education PhD in culture and learning in the workplace, I decided to launch a training and development business. I wondered how to integrate intercultural communication with my project management and course creation background. When I added credentials for career trauma coaching, I was still faced with finding a common thread that would explain what we actually “do” to help workplaces. Although I can easily see common threads for other people’s careers and businesses, it is always harder to do it for yourself!
That year we plunged into a recession and my previous boss tried to sue me. I survived these two setbacks by gaining a reputation training middle managers in the manufacturing sector, then other industries where there was a significant need to understand how people work best and how organizations build workplace culture. I hired international subcontractors to meet internal growing business needs. We moved from all in person training to online training for multiple sites long before Covid made it a necessity. Helping others bridge the technology/results gap at the time was another skill Shift Management could offer. Building online courses and multi-media resources became more and more a part of the Shift Management client offerings.
But where was that illusive common thread?
Most companies we worked with were promoting people who were good at their current job from operations to management without the tools for the new role and were stressed with the job demands. Providing the tools to understand themselves, and others in a safe environment turned out to be exactly what they needed to surge forward with management skill. When students could discuss and practice concepts with an external instructor in small cohorts, they developed confidence to practice their emerging people skills. I was thrilled to see managers report they had better self-awareness and confidence.
One of the middle manager students reported:
“This new guy on my team came up to me yesterday and said ‘Hey boss, I just cleaned up the toolshed, thought I would let you know.’ The “old me” would have said sarcastically ‘Well good for you for doing the job you are being paid for!’ which would have made the guy mad. The “new me” said, ‘Love that initiative. Glad to have you on the team!’ and you know what? When I saw the smile on his face, I knew I was starting to see the results of this course!”
This is how I started to see what Shift Management was all about. We promote workplace happiness and inclusive workplace practices through wise leadership. The manager in the above comment came from a military background that was interpersonally punishing. His management toolbox was limited to forcing compliance and expecting instant obedience. Two things that did not translate well to civilian workplace norms.
Evolving And Thriving
At the end of the program he said…
“This course gives you tools to set small attainable goals, help with your time management skills, and gives you assistance in conflict management. It helps you become a more well rounded leader, manager and a better person to work with or for. The leadership assessments were very humbling as I saw and heard a different perception of my leadership /management skills that made me reflect. My tool box has been filled with new tools to help our team become better and to help me become a better person as a whole. Thank you!”
A senior manager from a different company said:
“I meet remotely with staff around the world and realized during the Supervisory Leadership course that language and culture could be barriers. I mistakenly thought “yes” always meant the same thing across cultures. After doing the direct/indirect communication exercises, I realized I needed to assure team members that it is fine to ask for clarifications. I also started asking team members to explain their assignments to me in their own words. Both of these strategies have improved my team communications and outcomes.”
Then one of my coaching clients wrote:
“During a very difficult period in my career, when stress was becoming overwhelming, my sessions with Marie helped me to cope with pressures, pain and anxiety and to maintain my professional composure. I am very grateful.”
Embracing International Cultural Diversity
The common thread was starting to emerge. Shift Management increases workplace happiness by helping managers understand how people learn and perform best at work. We do that with a mixture of management know-how, intercultural communication and conflict management skill, and connecting people’s self-management to their management practices.
Our services include:
1. Curriculum writing and digital resource development for effective adult learning
2. Training and development for managers seeking greater impact with less stress
3. Coaching to turn job stress into career success
And the common thread? Workplace happiness through wise leadership.
Shift Management’s Company Values Fabric
The threads that create the fabric of our Shift Management workplace culture are:
• Promote workplace emotional safety and wellness
• Grow manager skills through self and other awareness
• Sustain mutual respect through encouragement and learning
• Build a framework for inclusion through interpersonal and intercultural understanding
• Contribute to a future of work where soul-enhancing interactions and wise contributions to the greater good and sustainable growth benefit all