“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
~ Michael Jordan ~
Marcia is stuck at the bottom of a very deep pit. She hates her job. She got hired at the bottom of the last recession and at that point, any job looked good, and this one looked even better than good. So she convinced herself this was a great move for her and five years later, she’d rather be anywhere but here. So what now? Just that morning she had watched a TV show where an executive coaching consultant was a featured guest. Marcia had never considered hiring a coach or consultant, but as a mid-level executive in a stagnant company, she was going nowhere fast. She began to focus on some of the ideas the coach presented. Marcia decided to take some of his advice and use her frustration to design a replacement strategy. She took his four key questions and started reworking them to fit her situation.
- What don’t you like about your job right now?
- If you kept your current job, what would you like to change?
- How could you make those changes?
- How badly do you want to change?
1. What don’t you like about your job right now? The first question was easy to answer. Morale in the company was awful. Sales were slumping and no one seemed to care. There was a new product introduction on the drawing board, but her boss hadn’t even brought it up for discussion in staff meeting. There had been no performance reviews or salary increases in almost two years. Rumors of downsizing and layoffs ran rampant, even though the company was still showing a profit.
2. If you kept your current job, what would you like to change? Marcia really didn’t want to quit her job. What she wanted was to get her enthusiasm back at work, to feel excited about the company and her prospects the way she had in the beginning. She wanted to see the company move ahead and grow. She realized that there were some things she could change, and some things she couldn’t. For example, she could volunteer to start a brainstorming group to get the new product introduction off the ground. She could even start an informal, off-site, after-hours group to discuss ways they could work together to improve company morale.
3. How could you make those changes? Marcia decided to take action on both of those ideas quickly, and to have them up and running within 30 days. First, she set up an appointment with her boss to discuss the new product launch. “I know you’re way too busy right now,” she said, “and this project is just adding more pressure. So if I can get together a brainstorming group, we can kick start it and give you some ideas to work with.” Her boss looked relieved at her suggestion and told her to move ahead immediately.
Marcia also began chatting informally with a group of like-minded co-workers, and they set up a happy hour talk fest offsite to discuss ideas for improving morale and helping the company move ahead.
4. How badly do you want to change? The executive coaching consultant had been very specific about this one: if you focus on the negative, you’ll get more negative. Instead, define the negative and then pivot to a positive. Focus on things that work, not things that don’t.
If you are feeling stuck, if you’re not where you want to be, don’t stay there. Use your negative feelings to get your mojo back. Take these positive steps to turn the job you have into the job you really wanted in the first place. If you’re having trouble getting yourself out of the pit, Joel may be able to help. He has guided thousands of clients as an executive coach consultant toward greater job satisfaction and career advancement. Why not email him today?
Talkback: Have you been successful at turning a negative job situation into a positive? How did you do it? Share your experience here.
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“To Improve Your Team’s Output, Look at it Differently”
Today’s guest post is by Mike Figliuolo, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here). You can learn more about Mike and the book at the end of the post. Here’s Mike:
Why do you pay your team members? If you asked them, they might answer “You pay us to work.” If you ask an office-based worker what “work” means to them, you’ll get a list of typical workday activities. They read and write emails. They write reports. They go to meetings and attend conference calls. Those activities that sound appropriate enough, but they don’t give a complete picture of what “work” means to you.
There are two different definitions of “work” in the dictionary. Your team members likely subscribe to the one that defines “work” as “mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.” Given you’re responsible for your team achieving its goals, you probably lean toward the other one which defines “work” as “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”
The two definitions are similar in that they revolve around physical or mental activity but they differ significantly on the purpose of the work. The implication here is you must hold your team members accountable for the results they achieve – not the activities they perform. That accountability contributes to the collective results your team delivers. Activities your team members think of as “work” are the inputs that go into getting the real outcome you desire – results that lead you to achieve your goals. Those are the outcomes to assess when placing team members on the Leadership Matrix.
Assessing the Output of Your Team Members
The output question leaders need to focus on is “are my team members producing the results I need given all the investments – pay, equipment, supplies, my time and energy – I’m making in them?” Assess each team member’s output – results that contribute to your team goals. To conduct this assessment, you’ll evaluate five elements of team member output:
What is the quantity of results compared to what is expected or asked of them?
How is the quality of their final work versus what is expected?
How timely is the work they deliver versus expected deadlines or durations?
To what degree do they improve morale in their immediate team?
To what extent do they improve relationships with stakeholders and colleagues outside their immediate team?
By understanding the results someone delivers at a level deeper than the easily measured numbers, you’ll have a sense not only for what they’re delivering but also how they’re delivering it. That new look at the “how” of their results will help you coach and develop them more effectively.
If you’d like to assess your team members and see where they plot on the Leadership Matrix, take our simple assessment. It will give you a sense for not only the results you get from them but what your investment of time and energy is as their leader. That combined picture will give you a much clearer approach to getting the best out of the members of your team.
– Mike Figliuolo is the co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results and the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. He’s the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.
“Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive…”
~ PC Week ~
Client Fahad Asks: There are so many programs out there claiming to develop leadership in people. It’s hard to know which are effective and which are money-stealers. Isn’t there one tool that can do it all? Can’t it be simple?
Coach Joel Answers: Great question, Fahad.
When you’re looking for a tool, you want something simple, effective, and right for the job. You want best value and precise results. We all know what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job. It can ruin things.
To answer your question, there is something that works for developing leadership in people. It works in all cases. Like the Swiss army knife, it holds all the implements needed to solve the problem at hand.
Let’s discuss how leadership coaching can be your tool of choice.
1. Simple. Rather than buying dozens of books or manuals, courses or online lessons, choose one qualified coach. It simplifies the decision making process.
You don’t have to spend hours figuring out the trade-offs between programs. With a coach that understands your business and your succession management, you have the best possible tool.
2. Effective. Rather than programs that give a blanket approach, your coach offers leadership development keyed directly to the individual. The give-and-take feedback allows for optimum growth. People can solve their concerns, increase their skill levels, and be prepared to rise to the top.
3. Best Value. Leadership coaches can address the issues faster and more directly than any program or training series. Instead of wasting money on generic training that only is partially effective, use 100% of your funds on meaningful achievement.
Coaches can focus on the specific areas that need improvement and bring fast results.
4. Precision Results. The shot-gun effect of most training programs may leave some of your potential leaders still searching for answers to their problems. It may be they just have a few questions that could be simply addressed. But those questions are unique to them.
When you have a live coach and the give-and-take feedback, these concerns can be addressed quickly bringing instant results. Rather than taking a course to accomplish the job, a coach may build the leadership of your people very quickly.
5. Right for the Job. Because every individual is unique, the tool to help them needs to be individualized. To insure your leadership development is exactly fitted for your people, you need a leadership coach. They will adapt and fit the needs and goals of both your employees and the management.
They can offer specialized and unique training that exactly fits the needs of your rising stars. They understand the value of company culture and can work directly with management to formulate training that gives maximum results.
Fahad, you ask a good question. Rather than waste time and energy on expensive training courses, focus on individual coaching to give you effective, precise results. You’ll find that as you develop a relationship with that leadership coach he or she will be able to give you stronger leaders who are immediately effective.
If you’re seeking to develop great leaders and want a leadership coach who can give powerful, prompt results, contact Joel.
Talkback: How have you found leadership coaching effective for you or your company?
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“We bring together the best ideas – turning the meetings of our top managers into intellectual orgies.”
~ Jack Welch ~
No one says it more eloquently than nationally syndicated columnist Dave Barry:
“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve its full potential that word would be ‘meetings’.”
It’s tough to argue with him. If you’re like most managers, you’ll spend 8 to 10 hours each week in meetings. In fact, according to a University of Arizona study, there are more than 11 million formal meetings each day, totaling a staggering three billion a year.
Yet in study after study, workers cite meetings as one of the most unproductive and frustrating parts of their jobs. Wasting almost $40-billion each year, it’s no wonder that Industry Week Magazine called meetings “The Great White Collar Crime.” But you don’t have to be a victim.
Listed below are seven simple steps you can take to make meetings more productive and, heaven forbid, even fun. I encourage you to share these tips with others on your team. Working together, you can be the business equivalent of a “neighborhood watch program,” stamping out this insidious crime, one meeting at a time.
- Determine if a meeting is really necessary. Will a few phone calls or face-to-face discussions accomplish the same thing? One client of mine uses her company’s mission and values as a measuring stick. If she can’t relate the purpose of the proposed meeting to company goals, she will cancel it.
- Have an agenda. A no-brainer you say? Yes, but amazingly enough, more than 60 percent of meetings do not have prepared agendas. This simple step can cut unproductive meeting time by up to 80 percent. Your agenda should be specific, not vague. For example, “Garfinkle Project” isn’t as effective as “Determine funding and priorities for Garfinkle Project.” And be sure to distribute your agenda ahead of time with the appropriate background information.
- Invite only those who will contribute to your success. What’s more important? Hurting someone’s feelings or achieving the success of your project? The fewer people involved, the more productive the meeting. Likewise, don’t feel obligated to go to meetings just because you were invited. Ask yourself, “Could I spend this time on something more important?” If the answer is “yes,” suggest someone from your team to represent you.
- Communicate your objectives and desired outcomes. Everyone in the room should know, in advance, the purpose of the meeting, why they were invited, and what they are expected to contribute.
- Start on time. “Don’t make exceptions,” recommends Harold Taylor, a Time Consulting firm. “If someone arrives late, explain to him or her that you are now on item two or whatever. Don’t apologize for starting on time and resist the temptation to summarize the progress to date for every late arrival. If they ask, tell them you’ll update them after the meeting.”
- Stay focused. Determine time limits for each topic and stick to them. If something comes up that’s not on the agenda, reschedule it for discussion at another time. Taylor suggests placing priority items that will generate the least discussion at the beginning of the agenda, while saving contentious items to the end.
- Summarize and assign responsibility. Before adjourning, summarize the action items, who is responsible for each, and in what timeframe. Schedule the next meeting, but only if one is really necessary.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
~Peter F. Drucker~
Client Jakob Asks: I’m in upper management in an international corporation and I want to move higher in my company. My peers have leveraged corporate executive coaching. Sometimes I see great results, but sometime I don’t see that it made a dramatic difference for them. What can I do to make sure my executive coaching boosts me up the corporate ladder?
Coach Joel Answers: Executive coaching is a significant investment, not only in money, but in time and commitment. You want it to be meaningful to you.
What you get out of it depends on how much effort you put into it.
Be an Active Participant
A tepid response to coaching will produce weak improvement. To get the most from your coaching you need to approach it with goals in mind. Discuss them with your coach and then focus on them.
1. Build New Skills. The skills and traits that have gotten you to this point are not sufficient to take you to the very top of the corporate ladder. Your coach will help you build skills sets and habits for the level of management you will be doing.
2. Be Present. When you meet with your coach, close off all distractions. Don’t answer the phone or email or search the web. Focus. Give your entire attention to presenting issues and seeking solutions.
3. Be Teachable. Humility sometimes seems at odds with confidence that comes with a top corporate job. But true confidence allows you to be humble and teachable. Jakob, when you resist criticism or new ideas, you stop your progress. Be willing to accept ideas without rebutting or rationalizing. Consider their merit. Be eager for growth. Then you set the stage for great progress.
4. Be Committed to Success. In the beginning, you gave me the top 3 goals you wanted to gain from this engagement. Make it meaningful and achievable goals. Then be willing to do what it takes to accomplish it. Your coach will guide you and give you suggestions and insights that will help you reach your goals faster than you could on your own.
5. Take Action. Learning without doing is like sitting at dinner without eating. It accomplishes little. The natural next step to learning is putting what you’ve learned into action. There is a tendency to think you don’t know enough.
Often people enter this learning mode without moving forward. Resist it. Once you know, take action. Yes, you’ll need to refine and correct. But your learning increases as you act on what you know.
6. Overcome Fears. Change involves risk. It’s moving out of the safe zone into the unknown. Your coach understands that, and you should too. Be willing to take that risk. Dare to be great. Stumbles are a part of life. Don’t stand still because you are unwilling to make a mistake.
7. Break Habits. Powerful, significant executive coaching takes place when clients are willing and ready to break habits that are holding them back. Your coach will help you recognize what traits are limiting you.
But only you can make the decision that your success is more important than those old habits. If you want your coaching to have the desired results, you must be willing to leave the restraining behaviors behind.
Jakob, you are smart to start achieving now. Building new skills takes time. But when you commit to achieving your goal and are willing to put in the focus, time and effort, you’ll see that your corporate executive coaching will take you where you want to go.
When you connect a skilled executive coach with a willing, motivated manager you will see the dramatic results you desire.
If you’re interested in making the most of your corporate executive coaching experience talk to Joel. He will help you focus, step out in new ways, and build habits of success. Connect now.
Talkback: How successful has your executive coaching experience been? What was the thing that had the most impact on your upward advancement?
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