“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
~ Robert Frost ~
Dana’s staff is constantly asking her what they need to do to get promoted. Her four direct reports are especially anxious to move ahead in the company. Neither the company nor Dana herself has a definitive mentoring program. She realizes that she needs to make some drastic changes in mentoring her staff in order to help them grow and be offered the opportunities they deserve.
In the absence of a formal corporate mentoring program, Dana takes steps to develop a mentoring program of her own. She meets with her direct reports and together they develop a simple two-part strategy. First, Dana will make new, high profile projects available to all who want them and encourage them to volunteer. Second, she will raise awareness of staff members’ accomplishments by proactively messaging not only her boss and peers but those C-level employees above them.
The four staff members left the meeting with their own personal action steps, and they also knew exactly what Dana planned to do to help them. She coached them on self-promotion techniques, such as copying the boss’s boss on project-related emails and planning appropriate times to speak up in meetings when projects they worked on were being discussed.
The group agreed on a one-month, three-month, and six-month review of the program. By the end of the first month, new projects were put on the table and Dana’s direct reports enthusiastically volunteered for their own projects. In addition, they took on some related lower level projects so they could begin to coach and mentor their own subordinates.
Dana scheduled regular one-on-ones with each of her direct reports and also put together a schedule of informal communications with her boss and other C-level managers to keep them informed about what her staff was doing.
At the three-month milestone, Dana noticed that a high level of enthusiasm had developed among her entire staff. Not only was the day-to-day work being accomplished more efficiently, they were excited about the opportunity to work on new initiatives, and some had even volunteered for cross-training in other departments.
After six months, Dana made a list of the tangible benefits that had resulted from the mentoring program, not only for her staff, but also for herself and the company as a whole. This is what she told her boss:
Benefits to the mentees:
- Opportunity to take control of their own learning and career advancement.
- A chance to develop valuable contacts in other parts of the company.
- Significant improvement in their productivity and enthusiasm.
Benefits to herself as the mentor:
- She had greatly enhanced her coaching and listening skills by working more closely with her direct reports.
- She had gained notice and respect of higher-ups in the organization.
- She felt validated and rewarded by passing on the value of her experience to those coming along behind her.
Benefits to the company:
- Productivity had greatly improved across the entire work group.
- Employees who were previously perceived as being “stuck” at their current level were re-energized.
- Cross-functional teams were developed as Dana’s people spent time in other departments.
Many companies have formal mentoring programs that are of great benefit to their employees. In the absence of such a program, a single individual such as Dana can develop their own, providing significant benefits to the employees involved, the manager, and the company.
Do your people need a mentor? This week list five different ways you could start a mentoring program in your own department.
Talkback: Have you been a successful mentor? Or have you been mentored by someone who made a difference in your career? Share your story here.
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“If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won’t need a third.”
~ Pete Rose ~
Kimberly, a free-lance marketing consultant, landed an assignment to temporarily replace Jennifer, the VP of marketing at a large financial institution for six to twelve months. Jennifer was taking a leave due to complications from a high-risk pregnancy.
Because of her medical condition, she had very little time to brief Kimberly, but as she was leaving she informed Kimberly that she had just fired Jerry, a young IT guy—and the only IT guy in the department.
A couple of days later Jerry emailed Kimberly and asked if they could meet off-site for coffee. By this time, Kimberly had heard a little of the backstory on Jerry, the principle fact being that he was the son of the company’s CEO! Kimberly was a little intrigued by this political hot potato, so she agreed to meet him. Here are the facts as Jerry presented them to Kimberly:
- Jerry’s former boss had indeed felt pressured to take him on because of his father’s status, although his father never asked for that favor.
- Jerry’s boss did not respect his expertise in IT and did not accept any of his recommendations for moving key projects forward, even though Jerry felt he had come up with good solutions.
- Other people in the department put him down in order to appear to agree with his boss, so he felt he had no peer support.
Jerry asked Kimberly to give him a second chance.
Kimberly admired Jerry’s initiative in telling her his story. She agreed to look at his proposal for completing the department’s major project, a revamp of the internal employee intranet. After reviewing his proposal, Kimberly felt he was on the right track so she went to her boss, Larry, and told him she wanted to rehire Jerry on a temporary basis to follow through on the intranet project. When Jerry completed that project, Kimberly and Larry would meet and reevaluate the situation. Larry agreed.
Kimberly brought Jerry back into the department with little fanfare and no explanation, other than that the team needed his help on this critical project, which was lagging way behind schedule. In the meantime, Kimberly expected Jerry to meet with her twice weekly —once for project updates, and once for employee coaching sessions to improving his communication skills and reframing his mindset that “everybody resents me because I’m the boss’s son.”
Kimberly started including Jerry in formal and informal department meetings as part of his employee coaching and having him report to the team on the progress of his project. She also paired him up with a couple of new-hires who needed some IT training. When the project was complete, they staged a big roll-out announcement, a department party to celebrate, and Kimberly made sure Jerry got a lot of kudos.
Based on Jerry’s initial success, Kimberly quickly found another project for him to work on and he continued to blossom. When the Jennifer returned from her maternity leave, she told Kimberly that she didn’t even recognize Jerry as the same person. And she decided to keep him on permanently.
Here’s the takeaway: problem employees can sometimes be saved with good coaching and a willingness to undergo an attitude adjustment.
Take a look at your team. What problem employees might have potential if you provided good guidance and employee coaching? Schedule some meetings with them this week.
Talkback: Have you given a problem employee a second chance? What were your results? Share your story here.
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“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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How Can I get the Skills I Learn from Executive Coaching to Stick? How can I get that training to actually become part of me?
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~
Q: Jamie asks: I read lots of material on how to improve in organization, skill level, and leadership. I work at it for a few days. Then I find myself going back to my old way of doing things. How can I actually change myself permanently?
A: Coach Joel Answers: You ask a great question, Jamie. This is the secret to success in all walks of life: Knowing how to take information and apply it in your life.
One technique is to take your Executive Coaching and train like an athlete. Athletes take their training seriously. As you think of yourself as an “Executive Athlete,” you may be motivated to stick to your plan.
1. Think about it daily. Athletes make training a priority. They think about it and plan time to practice their skill every day. Calendar your training. What can you do today to exercise your skills and train you to build the habits you want?
2. Make a commitment to train. You already know what you need to do. This is a great step forward. You have the desire to change. That, too, is a valuable piece of the pie. Now you need to make the decision to train every day. Like an athlete, you will start small.
Too often, athletes… and executives… find a great skill and think they can master it immediately. They train so vigorously for a few days that they are exhausted by the effort and stop training.
Instead, start at a deliberate, achievable pace. Master one trait and then go on to the next.
3. Hire the best executive coach and follow his training plan. Athletes don’t try to go it alone. Most often great athletes work under skilled coaches. You will find you progress more successfully when you have a coach at your side to help with your training.
An executive coach will keep you on track and make sure you take logical, necessary, and most meaningful steps. They will cheer your progress.
4. Measure your success and improvement. Every great athlete has goals to reach. They measure their progress toward those goals in milliseconds. Measure and celebrate every increment of change you see in yourself.
Set benchmarks and standards. Evaluate your improvement daily, weekly, and monthly. Soon you will see your habits of leadership developing.
5. Challenge yourself to do better. Only you know if your pace is too easy or strenuous. Challenge yourself to become the best executive you can. Use coaching and training to help you reach this goal. Don’t settle for okay. Reach for the best you can be.
6. Take a set-back, learn from it, and move forward. Know there will be setbacks. Athletes get sick or injured and have to regroup and start training again. There will be days you slip. Don’t let one failure stop your training. Get back up, give yourself a break for the moment, and get started again.
7. Reward yourself. You may not earn an Olympic metal, but you can still reward yourself for your success in executive training. You’ve followed your coach. You’ve seen success. Celebrate!
When you take the challenge to change your habits, you’ve started on a new venture. With executive coach training, you join the ranks of professional athletes. You establish goals, training methods, and measure your successes. The end results are habits of leadership that will benefit you and your organization.
To jumpstart your executive coaching and become the executive athlete you want to be, contact Joel.
Talkback: What methods have you used to change knowledge into habits? Let me know.
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“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”
~Bob Nardelli, former CEO, Home Depot.~
Elizabeth asks: How can I tell if I need a life coach, a personal coach, or an executive coach? Is there a difference?
Joel answers: The kind of coach you need depends on the area in your life you want to focus on. As I explain the differences between life, personal and executive coaches, you’ll see what I mean.
- Executive coaching focuses on helping the person achieve more at work. It may deal with peer relationships or communication. It might help the worker advance in his or her career or understand how to add value to the company.
For example, Nathan felt like he was ready to take on more responsibility at work, but felt “stuck.” He had always avoided what he called “office politics” and just did his job. He didn’t know how to position himself to get promoted.
When Nathan hired an executive coach, the coach helped Nathan to verbalize his goals. Together they set up a strategy so Nathan could broaden his visibility and increase his influence.
He looked for places he could add value to the company and was soon in line for a promotion.
Executive coaching is about personal discovery, goal setting, planning, and achieving. This benefits both the individual and the organization.
- Life coaching views the person as a whole. It includes work and may cover stress and overworking, but it also covers family and personal goals.
The goals set for a person working with a life coach may be internal- feeling better, better relationships or dealing with bad habits.
Karen was shouldering all the responsibility of caring for her elderly parents. While there were other siblings close by, they chose to let Karen handle it all since she worked from home and could be “flexible.”
Karen chose a life coach to help her balance her work and family responsibilities and also deal with the emotional burden of resentment toward her siblings.
The life coach helped Karen see options and choices. Through her support, Karen was able to call a meeting with the siblings, establish responsibilities, and share her burden.
- Personal coaching is much the same as life coaching. While the goals of an executive coach are specific, measurable, and focused on improvement and success in the work environment, personal coaching is based on empathy.
It is more reflective, allowing for introspection and for the person to grow in self-understanding. Personal coaches can be used as a sounding board and a cheering section.
However, some personal coaches also work with clients on their business, financial, or spiritual concerns.
As you examine your primary goal you’ll be able to determine the kind of coach you need. If you are looking for measurable action to conquer work challenges, choose an executive coach. If you have personal, family, or life concerns with internal or less measurable goals, you may find a personal or life coach will support your needs better.
To learn more about executive coaching and see if this is a good fit for your concern, contact Joel and he’ll be happy to talk to you about it.
Talkback: How have different coaches helped you resolve your concerns? Which kind of coaching has been most effective for you?
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