Coaching Culture

Weekend Love, October Ten

Look at your leadershipHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently. This handful of links takes you to tools or insightful content. Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file if it fits the mood.

Want to solve problems or fix them?  Dan Rockwell explores the difference in his article, 10 Ways to Solve Real Problems.

What do you do when you notice others struggling?  Karyn Greenstreet gives some quick lists to recognize struggles and how you can help someone get moving.  Her article is on How to Help a Floundering Member.

Speaking of mistakes, Frank Sonnenberg makes a great case for changing your response to personal mistakes.  His article, The Biggest Mistake, Ever! would be a mistake to not read.

I’ve sometimes found that some people who say they want a coach really don’t.  Joanne Maynard asks a great question in her article Are You Coachable? 3 Questions to Consider.

BONUS:  Want the perfect movie for a night in?  Five Thirty Eight’s survey gives the top 25 all-time choices.  The male-female differences will make you smile.  Read Walt Hickey’s article, The 25 Most Rewatchable Movies of All Time.

 

Read More

Weekend Love, March Twenty-Eighth

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.

Are you really trying hard?  Naomi Dunford wants you to really look at the playback when she writes, What if You tried Really Hard?

Read this if you’ve ever used the phrase “stay at home mom.”  Jenny Acuff writes about 2 reasons I hate the phrase “Just a Stay at Home Mom.”

When is the last time you asked about what is meaningful in life?  Marshall Goldsmith, considered one of the top thinkers in the world, talks about six things in his YouTube video.

Special for the Week:  Dewitt Jones has a mission to “Celebrate What’s Right with the World.”  As a photographer for National Geographic he has done that for years.  Here are three short (20 image) collections in pdf documents around three themes of sunrises, children, and pets.

Read More

Your Business Culture

business cultureWe often don’t focus ON the business because we are so busy working IN the business.  Don’t feel bad if this has happened to you.  It happens to all of entrepreneurs at one time or another.  You get those extra orders, a vendor creates problems, marketing isn’t working and on and on and on.  Eventually you are so busy putting out fires you aren’t thinking about anything other than fighting fires.

That’s precisely when you should call a TIME OUT to decide if this is the business you want to build.  What’s your business culture saying about your business?  Culture is the soul of your community.  Your culture is what lets you say, “we’re similar” to the people around you and “we’re different” from other cultures.  Culture is how you and your business are known.  Here are three important steps in focusing on your culture so that you are happy with your reputation.

First, notice what’s happening around you.  This is a good time to work with a coach.  A coach will support you in noticing how your actions affect those around you.  Write your observations so you don’t lose them.  Ask some key questions like:

  • What changed? Do you like it?
  • How is productivity affected?
  • What’s missing?
  • What still needs to go?

Second, cast your vision.  How can you best spread the word about your values, both internal and external, with your business?  A coach can help you clarify what’s important to you and how you can show that to other people.  Until you talk about your vision, people can only guess what’s important to you.  As you talk to your team (again and again), your vision will start to catch.  And while you can’t control those above you in the business, you can be assured they will notice what’s happening.

Third, repeat steps one and two.  You have created a focused approach.  Now go with it.  You are at the “aim, fire, re-aim, fire, re-aim, fire” stages.  A coach can support you in staying true to your vision and keep you accountable to the things that will help it stick.

Here’s your challenge:  take 30 minutes this week to step back and look AT your business.  Do you like what you see?  Does it stand for what you want it to represent?  Are you ready to get started?

Read More

Five Ways to Lead More Effectively

iStock_000017068249LargeLeading a team is not always the easiest of jobs.  Some days you just want to go back into the field and work with vendors and customers.  You can get immediate gratification by being a “doer” and ignoring team issues for a while.  Unfortunately, they’ll always come back to plague your team’s development without you at the helm.  As a leadership coach, I work with my clients to take the path that they think will be most productive.  As you might expect, they seldom all go the same direction.

Here are five ways a team leader or can be more effective in leading their people to success:

  1. Create a compelling vision of what success looks like and then lead to it. Your responsibility as a leader is to paint a picture of your idealized future, support everyone in knowing and understanding that vision, and inspire your team to reach for it.  For example, a strong sales leader keeps the basics in front of the team and keeps a vision of building from those basics time and time again.
  2. Step into your leadership role so that your team sees you as a leader. Make decisions that make sense so that you can explain them to the team.  Your whole team will start to perceive you as the leader (in more than name) and look to you for visionary guidance.
  3. Keep your commitments and expect the same from others. Your commitments are a promise to your vision, to yourself, and to your team.  When you break your promises, what can you expect to have happen with your team?  Keep your commitments, and it will be easier to expect the same from others.  Support your team members in making commitments they can keep and praise them for doing so.
  4. Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each team member. One of the most important pieces for success is knowing what the target looks like.  Clear task and role expectations will prevent things from dropping through the cracks.
  5. Review, adjust, and repeat. Part of the leader’s vision is to keep everyone on track.  Your responsibility requires you to stepback, evaluate progress, and then adjust.  Then you do it again.

What can you expect?  While you aren’t guaranteed success, you can rest assured that you are closer to your ultimate goal than you would be otherwise.  Your team will be more engaged and productive that they would be otherwise.  In short, you are taking your best shot to get what you want.

Read More

Seven Tips to Stealth Branding Your Coaching Culture

Minolta DSCStart with an assumption:  you want more coaching in your company. Maybe you are just getting started and want to do more than hang on until “coaching” catches on.  Maybe you want to find those pockets of resistance.  Maybe you are tired of the snickers and snide comments from unbelievers who haven’t bothered to discover what coaching has to offer.  Now is the time to do some stealth branding.

Follow with a confession: I am not a marketer and I certainly can’t teach anyone about branding.  However, I do know branding when I see it.  Branding is what sets you apart.  It’s your difference; your uniqueness.  Now is the time to start introducing (by stealth) some branding elements to introducing a bit of change in the culture.

Here are seven easy ideas to start changing your culture.  They are small ideas that when consistently pressed, will get people talking and thinking differently.

1. Change the language.  Start to introduce some coaching language into the company. As the language shifts, the thought patterns tend to shift as well.

When someone comes to you and asks for help, reply by asking, “How can I support you?” The shift from help to support introduces independence rather than dependence.

Descriptive words and phrase will come to you as you get started.  Maybe a phrase jumps out at you from a coaching book or a class.  Claim it, own it, and use it religiously.

2. Answer with questions rather than statements (thoughtful questions prompt better thoughts and promote independence).  What have you done so far? What gets you excellence?  What’s stopping you?  What’s your breakthrough idea?

3. Work from a model.  When setting a goal, set a SMART goal.  Push others to do the same.  Broader coaching models work well for problem solving situations.  Sir James Whitmore in Coaching for Performance introduces the GROW model (goal, reality, options, will).  At Ultimate coach University, we teach a model called CDDC (connect, discover, design, commit).

4. Tell your Story. As anyone in sales will tell, you, “facts tell, stories sell.”  Use your personal narrative to show your results.  You can give more vivid details about your life than anything else.

5. Find a metric. Discover the one thing that your coaching seems to influence and measure it.  Retention? (HINT: retention is almost always improved.)  Personal performance? Team building? Manager development? Sales? Recruiting?

6. Gather love hugs. As you coaching and use coaching in your other activities, your team will start to appreciate your effort. They will share their hugs. You can share them, too. Put them on your white board.  Add them to the bottom of your newsletter.  Ask them to say something in public. Love hugs are the start of gaining momentum.  Let the MO flow!

7. Shrug away resistance. You know you have a great idea. Would you want to be ignored or resisted? What are you worried about? When the resistance starts to show, just smile cryptically and go about your business.  Your detractors will be curious and their curiosity will lead them into the change.

What do you think?  Are their simplere ideas that come to mind?  Please share.

Read More

Being the Change Agent for Coaching

Like it or not, you are the one who will be changing the culture in your business.  What you want done differently is not going to happen without your attention. The more you act, the more you will encounter resistance.

We have to get product our the door; let’s worry about this later.

It’s not working fast enough.

It’s interfering with other processes.

Did you really want no one to notice that you are changing their world?  Did you think they were going to like everything?  And deep, deep, down: would you prefer to be ignored? 

Free Prize InsideThe painful part is there is no straight path to success.  The simple news, however, is that the more you do, the more success you will have.  Good ideas always win.  Seth Godin is a prolific and insightful writer.  Here are a couple of his earlier ideas on how to be an innovator.  This is your opportunity to find some motivation and tactics to keep you moving forward.

WebThink SOFT INNOVATION.  Soft innovations are those clever, insightful, useful small ideas that just about anyone can think up.  Do enough of them and you and create a culture shift. A few years ago, Seth Godin wrote a book call, Free Prize Inside.  While it sounds like a new Cracker Jack slogan, it is much, much more.  If you want to offer a free prize to your customers, you have to get company support first.  And companies resist change.  So, become a soft innovator.  Buy the book and read “Section 2, Selling the Idea.”  These sixty pages will help you understand what is going on in the company and the role you can play.  Godin introduces a conceptual tool, The Fulcrum of Innovation, which is the same across almost all organizations and helps you create a strategy of soft innovation.  There are also 17 tactics to help you along the way. Seventeen is a lot of tactics.  This is your manual of success.

linchpinResists your Resistance.  When pushed, your tendency is to hide.  It’s okay.  We all do it.  There is a neurological reason for it happening.  Right on top of your spinal cord is your basil ganglia, most commonly known as your lizard brain. Scientists estimate that it takes .07 seconds for our lizard brain to react when threatened.  Unfortunately, the rest of our brain—the cognitive portion, takes longer to react. One of Seth Godin’s more recent books, Linchpin, looks at the lizard brain and how it controls our reactions.  You became a change agent for a reason.  Read the chapter in Linchpin about the resistance.  You will understand why you want to crumble in the face of resistance; how you can easily undermine yourself; and what you can do to hold off those fears long enough for your rational brain to take over.

No one said change was easy.  You are the champion for an idea that needs action.  You don’t need to be a lone voice in the wilderness. Use resources like these from Seth Godin to unlock the coach inside you.

Read More

Six Ways to Create a Coaching Culture

coaching culture

We usually think of culture creation as a haphazard process that just happens.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  While you can’t order people to absorb the team’s culture, you can do things to push it along.  Soren Kaplan recently wrote an article on Six Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation for Fast Company.  The article is a great blueprint for creating cultural change in a big sense.  What if you were to apply his six ideas to creating a culture of coaching?  Here are the six ideas (in bold) and how they fit a coaching culture:

1. Be intentional with your innovation intent.  The goal is to frame the world in the terms you want to see. 

  • Why would you want to support coaching?
  • What does it give you that nothing can or will?
  • How does it affect your team and your customers?

One client of mine is working to develop a team of leaders building leaders.  She knows that’s more than having a coaching element.  She also knows that it won’t happen without coaching.

2. Create a structure for unstructured time.  Think of this as an incubation time.  Eggs don’t hatch as soon as they are laid.  The baby bird has to develop in a protected atmosphere for a while. 

  • How will you take away rigidity in your work expectations?
  • How will you let them explore their ideas about coaching and what it can mean for their life?
  • What will you do to guarantee your team time to incubate and grow under your protection but without your direction?

3.  Step in, then step back.  One company I work with regularly has “lunch and learn” sessions designed to provide a structure that allows exploration.  The participants decide how best to use that time. Within a company, you can find ways to put people together.  For entrepreneurs the task is a little different but still doable. For example, a mastermind group gives you a structure to play around with your ideas.

4.  Measure what’s meaningful.  How will you know you are successful? Finding your return-on-investment is sometimes a difficult if not impossible task.  However, you can measure satisfaction levels.  Ask your people “How is this making a difference for you?”  The answers will be enlightening. Retention is often an important measure of coaching effectiveness.

5.  Give “worthless” rewards.  Find ways to celebrate every day.  Who doesn’t like to get recognition for who they are and what they do?  Just imagine encouraging peer coaching for personal growth opportunities.  What’s stopping you from buying lunch as a way of recognizing people who are exploring new horizons through coaching? You should check out the article from Sean Blaze on 35 ways to do this cheaply.

6.  Get symbolic.  You know when you have entered a church, police station, government office, or YMCA.  You see their symbols everywhere.  What are your symbols that say “we coach here?” Your mission and vision statements, stories, key phrases are all part of the culture.  When you figure those pieces out, your culture become even more obvious.

What do you think?  Which piece strikes you as the one for your focus?

Read More

Early Signs of a Coaching Culture

Early warning signsLanguage often foreshadows the development of a coaching culture.  Imagine yourself in the midst of a major transition.  You want your top leaders to show their independence.  In short, you want them to lead.  You decide that coaching is the way to make this happen.  And so you begin.  You set appointments; you support your team as they make goals and set plans.  You struggle to be as coach-like as possible.  How will you know it is working before you see results?  The answer is to listen to what your team is saying.

Coaching phrases will start to pop up in conversations. Unless you are listening for them, the language changes will be so soft that they are noticeable.  If you are listening, you’ll start to hear things like:

  • Wow!  I just had an AHA!
  • What do you want to do with it? (You’ll also start to hear more questions and fewer declarations.)

I’m familiar with one coach at a company who is fond of saying, “Would you like to unpack that idea” in her coaching calls.  At a recent meeting, I heard three different people use that phrase.

Accountability becomes a natural part of conversations. One key part of coaching is the management of progress and accountability. Think of the answers to questions like:

  • What do you want?
  • What will you do to get it?
  • When will you have it done?

In a simple sense, people who engage in coaching start to think in goal setting and goal making language.  Phrases around goal setting will show up regularly in everyday conversations.

Behaviors trickle out from your beginning.  Once you start coaching your team leaders, you will see them start to replicate the behavior with their direct reports.  A sure sign of a coaching culture is when the willingness to coach and to be coached become important expectations.  You may not be seeing tangible results from the coaching, but they are coming.

As you work to develop coaching as an important part of your team’s culture, you want to make sure and stay the course.  Coaching is not a quick fix.  I like the way Daniel Goleman describes it, “Our research found that the coaching style is used least often.  Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow. . . Leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool: its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.”

Language clues may let you smile while you are waiting for results.  What do you think?  What other clues can you point to as an indication that coaching is taking hold?

Read More

Being a Coach or Acting Like One?

Coaching evaluationWhether it’s your direct sales team, project team, start-up or company, an atmosphere that encourages coaching to grow and prosper doesn’t just happen naturally.  If you want a coaching culture, you deliberately have to make it happen.

To have a coaching culture, you have to be a coach. The error most people make is thinking that they can be a coach because they have had coaching.

I’ve previously written about the first step in creating a coaching culture is to have a coach.  Once you have experienced coaching, a completely new world opens up for you.  The error most people make is thinking that they are capable of being a coach at this point.  While everyone is capable of acting like a coach, being a coach is a different matter.

  • Over your lifetime, you’ve had to treat a host of cuts, scrapes and minor medical emergencies. Most of you wouldn’t feel qualified to set a broken bone or stitch a cut closed.
  • You’ve probably had to talk a friend or two through an interpersonal crisis or maybe provide some comfort in a time of need.  Do you feel qualified as a marriage or grief counselor?
  • You had some personal and business successes in your life.  That goes a long way to qualifying you as a mentor and a trainer.  Do you feel qualified to coach someone to do it a differently than you did?

To be a coach requires preparation.  Here are some examples (and the list is definitely not complete):

  • Observe coaching
  • Read about coaching
  • Go to a coach training school (and make it a good one!)
  • Train with coach
  • Do coaching with a mindset of seeking improvement
  • Be evaluated as a coach.

Of these six possibilities, the one that is the most worthwhile is the last one. If you want to get better at coaching, you will need to hunt for feedback.  What do your clients think?  If other coaches were to listen to you, what would they say? When you open yourself up to the possibilities, you are on your way to excellence as a coach.

What are you doing to improve your coaching—to go from acting like a coach to being a coach?

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments.

Read More

As coaches, how can we support our clients in creating a high performance culture? How do we support them in making it sustainable? (Note While this article is intended for larger companies, the methods discussed here can work with direct sales team or start-ups.)

Develop a coaching cultureAs coaches, how can we support our clients in creating a high performance culture?  How do we support them in making it sustainable?  (Note While this article is intended for larger companies, the methods discussed here can work with direct sales team or start-ups.)

Executives who benefit from coaching want make coaching sustainable across the company.  One common solution is to hire more coaches and hope that when enough employees have been through the process it starts to catch on and become cultural.  While that sometimes works, the results are often haphazard.  The results are not systematic.  Rather, they are person-specific.  They depend on the people who have received coaching being able to be coaches without any training, time, or encouragement.

A better approach to building a coaching culture is to treat it like any other initiative. Figure out what you want, build a program to provide it, and evaluate the results along the way. The key step is deciding WHAT you want the coaching program to accomplish so that you know how to build and evaluate it.

A good place to start looking for program goals is the International Coach Federation. Every year they host an annual competition in which the “ICF honors organizations who have demonstrated that professional coaching used as a leadership strategy can pay off greatly.” Since the applicants cover fields ranging from IBM to BC Housing Canada, the ICF has developed four selection criteria that universally work.  The four criteria are:

  • Effectiveness – How has the coaching initiative been effective in achieving the intended goals and purpose?
  • Impact – How has coaching improved the culture of the organization? What are the benefits?
  • Strategic Significance – How has the initiative addressed significant issues within or for the organization? (Examples include retention, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and team development.)
  • ROI/ROE – What are the tangible results/the proven return on investment or return on expectations for the organization as a result of the coaching initiative?

Of course, criteria like these are always easier to say than develop. When you start with the goal in mind, the job does become easier.

What other criteria come to mind to evaluate a program designed to create a coaching culture?

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments.

Read More