Coach Approach

Creating Your Summer Game Plan

Coaching summer plansIs it too early to be thinking about summer plans on tax day?  I had a coaching call this week with an entrepreneur and that’s what she wanted to discuss. For her, June was a major month for convention, travel, vacation, and kid-out-of-school-time and she wanted to be prepared.   I had my AHA before the call was done:  If you are an entrepreneur, it’s not too soon!  While we usually think about an intensive work time before and after a summer break, the entrepreneur has more to do than just the immediate tasks.

Whether you are in direct sales or some other business, as an entrepreneur your planning needs to go beyond a two-or three week period.  Think about direct selling, for example.  The people who join your team now will really be hitting their sales stride around late June.  The work you do in the summer will set the stage for your fall selling season.  Since you are in business for yourself, you need to constantly engage in high level planning.

During our coaching call, six core questions absorbed most of our time.  I wanted to share them with you as you start thinking about your summer.

  1. How up to date is your calendar? She was like most of us.  Her schedule was very complete for April, mainly complete for May and June, and then sketchy after that.  While June was her key month, she came to the realization she needed to be thinking about work for post-June.
  2. What business goals do you want to accomplish this summer? She had a clear vision.  Many of her summer goals center on building business relationships through follow-up from the conventions.
  3. What are the most important things you need to do now to prepare for June? This turned out to be a very important question. As she talked through the answer, her accomplishments in the next two weeks will make a lot of difference.
  4. What do your stakeholders need to know? While she thought a lot about his business, she hadn’t gotten to thinking about what her clients expectations are going from now to the end of June.  This will be the topic of several conversations between her and her clients before the summer.
  5. What do your contractors need to know? Like the previous question, she hadn’t talked with her support team and needed to bring them into the loop on her plans and work requirements for the next few months.
  6. What do you need to do to fill your fall pipeline? She realized that with a time lag of 90-120 days from starting the sales process to her first payment, her October-November business depends on starting in July. This is a new awareness and shifts her July business focus a bit.

How about you?  Are you thinking at a high level about your summer and fall business?  If you were, how will things change?

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Weekend Love, April Fourth

camoflage hugHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Four questions to make you go “hmmn.”  The title of Karyn Greenstreet’s article says it all: How Will You Know That You’re Successful, When You Don’t Know What It Looks Like?

At its simplest, coaching is about questions and answers.  Questions that make us think and answers that lead us forward.  Racheal Govender explains Why Coaching works.

Have anything in self-storage?  How about a piece of you?  David Emerald and Donna Zajonc, MCC write about Coming Out of Self Storage.

Best quotation of the week comes from Mark Sisson, “At its best, self-control doesn’t revolve around deprivation, denial or chastising but clarity, intention, and attunement.”  This powerful idea is explored in Self-Control: The Ultimate Exercise in Freedom.

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Weekend Love, March Fourteenth

Link loveHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Teams and groups have been studied for decades.  Ed Batista lists nine symptoms of group strength and growth.  They provide great insights into how you want to develop your team.

I wish I could write like Jeff Goins.  He tells a story and somewhere in the middle it becomes a life lesson.  Sweet.  http://goinswriter.com/shame/?

Want to stop yourself from those knee-jerk reactions? Dana Lightman, Ph.D. is a counselor and a coach with some great insights into not letting your lizard brain take over.  Part one explains what happens and part two gives you some alternatives.  (Both are relatively short).

http://02ae535.netsolhost.com/blog/2015/02/12/tip-1-retrain-your-amygdala-part-one/

http://02ae535.netsolhost.com/blog/2015/03/12/tip-one-retrain-your-amygdala-part-two/

Black bottomed oatmeal pie.  Because it’s pi day (get it? get it?) and we should all salivate just a little over something like this.

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Weekend Love, March Seventh

Link loveHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Coaches try to avoid giving advice, and sometimes that leaves you and your client feeling stalemated or helpless.  Here are Ten Little Tips to Boost Your Coaching Prowess.

Five Ways to become more Self Aware.  The title says it all.

Trust is one of the key pieces in building coaching and business relationships.  What do you do after you’ve messed it up?  Randy Conly offers 6 Steps to Rebuild Broken Trust.

What would your do-over look like?  Here’s what Joel Peterson says about what he’d do differently.

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Why Wait for Feedback? Company Version

New Mindset New ResultsFirst, the bad news:  when most of us ask for feedback we get an image of giving someone a loaded gun, pointing at our face, and helping them point the trigger.  Now for the good news:  It’s all in your head.  The way you treat the feedback is up to you.

Part 1 of Why Wait for Feedback? is about making a decision to take control of your future by asking for feedback rather than just waiting.  Start by being brace and the rest of the pieces will fall in line.  Here are four guidelines to help you if you work in a company setting.  Part 3 will be for entrepreneurs seeking feedback.

Think future and not past.  The goal of asking for feedback is not to evaluate the past.  You really can’t change that.  Your goal is to do something better in the future.  So forget-about-it when thinking about the past.  You really don’t care if it was good, bad or indifferent.  Your goal is to get better in the future.  Marshall Goldsmith calls this process feedforward.  It’s a core piece of his coaching method.  He also uses it as a training exercise.

Ask, ask, and ask some more.  If you only talk to one person, you’ll get their opinion.  That may not prove useful and you really can’t evaluate their idea because you have a limited basis of comparison.  Instead, try this:

  • Make a list of people you trust and want to hear from.
  • Approach them individually for a conversation. (You might even set an appointment and tell them what you want.)
  • Say to them, “I’m looking to improve my workplace performance. Would you have a suggestion of something I can do better?  What’s one thing I need to keep doing?”
  • Thank them for their feedback. Don’t agree or disagree.  Just thank them.

Work with a coach.  If you are going to ask for feedback, you will need to do something with it.  A coach can support you in sorting this out, setting plans in place, moving forward, and helping you stay accountable to your change process.

Ready, aim, fire.  The important thing is that you make some changes. Jack Canfield first suggested this mantra as part of his Success Principles.  It works.  Take action, course correct, and then act again.  You get much further than being stuck in the planning phase.

If you don’t like the direction you are taking, this feedback process will support you in finding a new one.

The reward you get for seeking feedback is beyond what you can imagine.  Ed Batista describes it this way, “the most effective leaders build a culture and establish working relationships in which critical feedback is invited rather than squelched, appreciated rather than punished. Unpleasant truths are precious gifts, and should be treated accordingly. This doesn’t make the process fun–I can still find negative feedback hard to hear, even after years of dedicating myself to the process. But I value the lessons it brings more than I resent its sting, in part because I try to be open to it without allowing it to undermine my sense of self-validation.”

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Weekend Love, February Twenty Eighth

Link loveHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Some of the best advice ever comes from Seth Godin this week when he talks about The Trolls Inside.

Does your elevator pitch stink?  Could you at least make yourself sound normal when you give it?  The HBR has some concrete advice for you in their article on Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch.

My new favorite blogger is Frank Sonnenberg.  He writes about character, personal values, and personal responsibility.  He makes you want to slow down and absorb each word topic over a nice cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  Take this week’s offering called 13 Ways to Spot a Lie.

Think you are coaching?  Want to find out?  Dan McCarthy writes How Managers Can Become Awesome Coaches.  It’s a standalone article, but there are lots of links to other articles if a particular piece strikes your fancy.

Once you become a coach, who makes sure you are doing your job?  Who can help you do it better?  An emerging role, coaching supervisor, may be the answer for you. You can read about it in The Case for Coaching Supervision.

The visual that puts it all in perspective.  http://hereistoday.com/

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Weekend Love, February Twenty First

Link loveHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  Most will be a handful of links to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

I think we all will have situations that feed our indecisiveness.  The Paid to Exist blog explores an alternative in The Mantra of the World’s Greatest Influencers.

John Hester, in the Blanchard LeaderChat weighs in on those dreaded employee performance talks.  His view may surprise you as he writes When It Comes to Performance Management, Employees Want More, Not Less!  While direct selling leaders don’t perform employee management functions, I think you’ll find his solution fits your world as well.

Any good lawyer will tell you that the questions you ask shape the questions. Coaches know this as well.  Here’s an alternative for your self-questions from the Power of TED* as they urge you to Ask a Better Question.

The real value of Facebook is in Groups.  Chris Brogan weighs in on this topic in his article, Remember When I Said I Quit Facebook?

From the archives:  Entrepreneur Magazine recommends that you Quit Facebook.  Here are six good reasons to give it up for your business and your personal life.  This seems harsh, but if you can’t set boundaries, maybe stopping cold turkey is the way to go.

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4-H’s to Start Coaching

4-hI grew up on an Iowa farm.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  A part of my life for eight years was the local 4-H club.  While I learned a lot of agriculture, I also learned that life has more to it than a day-to-day existence.  Every time the 4-H club met, we said the pledge.  As I reflect back on it, if offers a great beginning point for mindfulness.  The four H’s are head, heart, hands, and health.

Start with your HEAD.

  • What do you know?
  • What don’t you know?
  • What are your key skills?
  • What has brought you to this point?

Focus on Your HEART.

  • What makes you happy?
  • What would make you happier?
  • What’s the disquiet you are feeling right now?
  • What are you excited to talk about?

Move to Your HANDS.

  • What are your tools?
  • What do others ask you to do?
  • What do want to be able to do better?
  • What activities come naturally to you?

Finish on Your HEALTH (your whole commitment).

  • What would you do, even if you weren’t paid?
  • What’s the passion that you can’t contain?
  • What deserves your full attention?
  • What do you want to be know for?

Are you considering hiring a coach?  Think about these four H’s first.

Are you a coach working with a new client?  Start with the four H’s.

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Are you hearing or listening?

businesswoman with big earsI was talking with a coaching client today and I had one of those DUH moments.  You know, one of those times when you remembered something you knew all along.  Here it is:  Most of what occurs during a conversation is in your head.

As I was sitting here listening to a client talk about her January business, I realized how many questions I wanted to ask.  That’s when the DUH hit.

Hearing is a physical phenomenon.  Your ears are designed to recognize sound waves.  Then comes the meaning. The meaning that goes with the sound is purely in your head.

You bring an attitude towards the conversation.  You evaluate the worth of what you am hearing so that you can focus on what your mind designates as important.

You bring beliefs towards the conversation.  What is the world like and how does your client fit in?

As coaches, we sometimes talk about what we aren’t hearing.  What we really mean is that our mental expectation for the conversation is not matching up to what we think it should be.

Here’s the point:  If you are more mindful of your mental state when you enter into a coaching conversation, then what is being said will have a different meaning.  You have the opportunity to turn those sound waves into early judgments or you can turn them into coaching moments.  We can become very passive listeners or we can be very active.  I’m guessing that as coaches, active listening is probably the better side to be on.

What will you do to improve your listening?

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Why coaches say: It depends

The client owns the coaching agendaWhen I first started as a coaching student, we went through a mind-opening exercise in one class.  We were paired with other students, coached them for five minutes, and couldn’t tell them what to do.  We couldn’t give advice, offer suggestions, and were even supposed to avoid answering questions.  After a while, I started to realize that my challenge wasn’t to solve the other student’s problem.  It was to control myself.  Once I understood what my problem was, I could figure out what to do.

There is an old saying, “Who owns the problem, owns the solution.”  Good coaches try to keep that in mind.

You, as the coach, are undermining the possibility of your client’s success if you don’t allow them to own their own problem and the solution.  Coaches in the direct selling profession are especially good at this.  As a leader, you recognize the issues that your team struggles with every day.  You’ve been there and done that. So when:

  • Susan, your downline leader, says, “I need to have $100,000 in sales by June.” You say, “How’s your recruiting?”  Susan thinks the problem is sales.  You don’t.  As a coach, you’ve stolen her problem and she is dependent on you for the solution.
  • Jane says, “I don’t know, what do you think?” You feel trapped.  Jane want’s your opinion so you give it.  You now own the solution.
  • Your company just announced a new incentive trip. You open your coaching call with Chris by saying, “Isn’t the trip something else!  What do you need to do to go?”  You have become a one-to-one trainer.

The problem is that when things start to go wrong (even if it’s just a little thing), the coach starts to get the blame.  Your downline leader starts to say things like:

  • I’m not you.
  • This is what she’d do, not what I’d do.
  • She’s not in my shoes. If she were here, she’d know this wouldn’t work.

As a coach, you’ve made things tougher for everyone.  Your downline client is losing faith in you, in coaching, and in her potential for success.

To fully enter the coaching moment and to put the power of ownership in your client’s hands, you have to avoid being the coach with an opinion. One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask another question.  You can say:

  • “It depends. What did you do want to do?”
  • “It depends. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”
  • “It depends. What worked last time you wanted to reach like this?”
  • “It depends. What possible ideas are you getting from other leaders?”

As a coach, you don’t have to be a subject matter expert.  You have to be a coach.  Your problem is to be the coach.  Let your client own her problem and its solution.

I’m open to ideas.  How do you, as a coach, make sure that your client owns the agenda?

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