Friday, 4 February 2011

Throwing Copper

Every so often we get a reminder of how the things we take for granted have a habit of biting us in the posterior when we least expect it. For example, take the case of the railway copper theft in East London this past week.

That’s right – forget your gold or platinum, copper is the precious (?!) metal on the move with it being worth in the region of £6,000 per ton.

(I say that like I am aware that this is a massive hike from previous amounts but I really have no clue – where does aluminium fit in to this? I could be a Diet Coke can millionaire)

Diet Coke"Ahhh my retirement fund - I have been expecting you!" Image by cackhanded via Flickr
Due to the rise in value some thieves removed the copper lines that are required for trains to run on the Central Line in the East London area of the Underground, meaning that things came grinding to a halt earlier this week. Transport for London even went on to say that after terrorism, the removal of such materials/equipment from their lines was the biggest threat to the Underground service. No mention of where signal problems on the Bank branch of the Northern Line causing delays ranked but I am sure this was up there.

Nevertheless it is an example of how an everyday, taken for granted resource can bring a vital service to a halt with immediate effect. It got me thinking about it in the context of mentoring or coaching for all us HR professionals to bear in mind - what is the asset that we need to make sure is, ahem, copper bottomed to ensure success in these areas?

Well mentoring is often aimed at being learner lead and reading Julie Starr’s excellent ‘Coaching Manual’, I was struck by how non-directive conversations can be used to empower people. This was a reminder of what many coaches state – you are aiming to equip the person or organisation with the skills and wherewithal to move resolve their issue and have strategies they can apply when moving forward, not as a repeat crux for the problems they are having.

Viewing it in this context, I wonder if a coach or mentor’s version of copper rails is not losing sight of the fact they should letting people to their own devices at the end of the assignment/project? Or maybe you might think that being able to resist the temptation to jump in and be really direct and supervise a peer on the way forward, rather than letting the solutions be a joint venture?

Perhaps you think it is none of the above – if so, what would you consider to be the equivalent of copper?

You might take it for granted but will know its value when it delays your journey – whether it be professional or geographical.

p.s. prize for anyone who can spot the mid-90s musical reference in this post

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