Posts Taged coach-approach

Getting Unstuck

We all get stuck.  Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, would say it’s caused by our lizard brain refusing to let go.  Keith Yamasita and Sandra Spataro their book, Unstuck, take a systemic view of the concept so that we can identify the component of the system that seems to be stuck and then get it moving.

Whatever the cause, we all get stuck and coaches often are called on to help their clients get unstuck.  One technique that I’ve recently come across is called appreciate dialogue and is championed by Marcia Reynolds.  With kudos to her, I want to talk about how I’ve used the three step process.

First, I ask my client to “box up her current situation and put it on a shelf.”  I make the metaphor as vivid as I can.  The more the client can see herself literally doing it, the better the situation becomes.  Depending on whom I talking with, I may say:

  • Put in on a shelf
  • Leave it on the curb
  • Walk away
  • Close the door.

Second, I ask my client to describe a time when they created a peak performance.  Again, I try to use very colorful language and then give them lots of time to talk.  I may say:

  • Think of a time when you were working with a group on a problem and they would not have succeeded without you.
  • Think of a time when you were operating at full blast and your world orbited you.
  • Tell me about a situation where you made things happen (in a good way).

As the situation unfolds, I push for more details on their role, their participation, and their influence on the positive outcome.  I love it when the peak experience they describe has nothing to do with their stuck situation.  That means to me that they truly have put boundaries on the problem.

The peak situation they describe may have nothing to do with the problem.  I had one new corporate direction that I was supporting through her transition talk about how she successfully sold her house.  Another client in direct sales talked about researching and buying the car of her dreams.  You just never know.  The more I can get them to talk about their strengths, talents, attitudes, values, and the like, the better off they are.

Third, I ask them to describe how (a) what they brought to the peak experience can be applied to (b) the situation within which they are stuck.  What has happened by this point is their mental pattern has shifted.

  • Rather than thinking about what’s out there, they are thinking about their super powers.
  • Rather than seeing problems, they are seeing solutions.
  • Rather than being surrounded by their own negativity, they are bathed in their own positivity.

When coaching in a one on one situation, this method allows the client to shift gears.  Feel free to comment on how this method may work for you.

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Group Coaches Are Group Facilitators

At Ultimate Coach University, we teach some courses in group coaching.  Most beginning coaches are concerned about doing too much telling, training or directing.  The perspective we try to develop is one in which group facilitation is a key part of group coaching.  Here’s why:

Coaches are always facilitators.   A facilitator is defined as “one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.”  That’s what coaches do.  Whether it’s one-to-one or with a group, coaches create an environment within which learning, self-discovery, curious invention and the like occurs.

The focus is the individual in the group setting.  Groups are not teams. Teams have a goal that requires a specialized participation from everyone.  Groups do not. Groups exist because the group members see an individual benefit from being there.  As a coach facilitator, the goal is to maximize the benefits for all of the individuals in the group.  The only goal of the group is to maximize the individual’s achievements.

Group dynamics are more complex. The coach always has part of themselves in the coaching and part of themselves monitoring the coaching.  The coach is responsible for time management, focus, productivity and accountability.  Those occur when the coach is monitoring (facilitating) the interactions.  In one sense, the coach is both mental in and mentally out of the coaching space.  When group coaching, the mentally out part is more complex.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • Instead of overall time, the coach has to manage the portion of time available for each person to talk.
  • When each person talks, it changes the communication expectations for everyone else.  Imagine a group of sales leaders and one says, “This month sucks. My top people have taken the month off, nobody wants to promote, and our ability to attract new people is terrible.”  The group can easily spiral down from there.  Somebody who is having a good month may hesitate to talk because they don’t want make other participants feel bad.

In short, the coach has to manage the group in order to produce an environment that will maximize things for each individual.  The coach may have to interrupt clients, add topics to the agenda, or cut some topics short for the purpose of getting the most for everyone.

Peer coaching opportunities arise.  I’ve been working with groups for nearly five years. In that time, one of the benefits for everyone is what they get from the other participants.  They get a diversity of opinions, questions from the group, and suggestions to move things forward.  In addition, the group members get to hear others being coached in real-time and strong role modeling in communication skills.

Ginger Cockerham defines group coaching in her book, Group Coaching, as “a facilitated group process led by a skilled professional coach and created with the intention of maximizing the combined energy, experience, and wisdom of individuals who choose to join in order to achieve organizational objectives or individual goals.” In other words, coaching and facilitation are conjoined.  When we start with the assumption that the two go together, the resulting coaching is stronger.

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Coaching the What and Why and the $75,000 Question

Life evaluation and emotional wellbeingMy guess is that it would be a rare life or personal coach that does not have their client try to dig into personal motivations. As coaches, we call them goals, mission, values, passion, why’s, etc. Our assumption as coaches is that as our clients grow in self-knowledge, their path to the future becomes clearer. It also puts a tool in our coaching hands. When a client seems to stall out, we make some mental leaps to their passion and try to get them moving forward on their program.

One place we often have difficulty is separating the material reasons from the mental ones. New coaches often go to the material corner. Talking about things is less threatening or invasive than talking about values and passions. Experienced coaches often go the other way; we ignore the material wants because they aren’t as personally exciting as digging into a client’s mental pathways.

Recent research points to the need to make sure that people are meeting both their material and their emotional needs.  Angus Deaton, Ph.D., a renowned economist, and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist put their heads and work together on an amazing research project.  They wanted to discover the numbers behind happiness. They analyzed nearly a half million responses to the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI), a battery of survey questions about happiness.

The two concepts that we refer to as the “material what” and the “emotional why” are called “life evaluation” and “emotional wellbeing.” While the two dimensions overlap, they have distinct measures.

  • Life evaluation is based on a view of our achievements. We look at things like goal accomplishment, financial security, education, marriage, and job satisfaction.
  • Emotional wellbeing is social and reflects our day-to-day emotional quality and satisfaction.

Without getting into too many more details, there are two research findings that I found interesting from a coaching perspective.

First, achieving your goals is important for both dimensions. We evaluate our lives poorly when we fail (the “I just suck” syndrome) and it negatively affects our emotional wellbeing.  As Dr. Kahneman explains, “Having goals that you can meet is essential to life satisfaction. Setting goals that you’re not going to meet sets you up for failure.”

Second, there is a dollar figure for happiness. In the United States, $75,000 is the threshold for happiness.  In other words, when you earn $75,000, you’ve hit the magic number.  More money doesn’t make you happier.  People who earn more may have more a higher life evaluation (“I love my life!”) but they are any happier about it.  Their emotional wellbeing has hit the top.

As a coach, I am intrigued by what these research results mean to my profession.  Besides making sure my clients are aware of and working on both pieces, I have some cultural insights into where they might want to go.

Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up. I encourage you to read more of the research results as The Gallup Management Journal reports them.

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Business Coaching is Not Like Football Coaching

Not Business CoachingNot all “coaches” are created equal.  At Ultimate Coach University, our coach training program, we teach people who want to improve their coaching skills as well as those who are training to become professional coaches.

Once you find a coach, you’ll discover your best practices, learn more about yourself, and achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

Coaching is not on-on-one training.  It’s not having someone give you the “playbook” for your business, your life, or your relationships. There are a lot of people out there who will charge you to learn their playbook and call it coaching.  Really it is more like a football coach.

I have a friend who is terrific football coach. He devises plays for offense and defense, he teaches his players the plays, and he observes practice.  He usually calls the plays.

But his players are limited to his playbook.

A great business coach will not give you his playbook and plug you into his plan for your business.  A great coach will allow you to explore your best practices, partner with you to find innovative ways to improve, and let you build your own playbook.

If you just want somebody to “tell you what to do,” get a trainer or a mentor.

If you want a coach, here are three quick tips.

  1. Get a professional.  Credentialed coaches are trained to bring the best out of you.  They are skilled at listening to what is being said and what is not being said.
  2. Hire the right kind of coach.  It is important that your coach has at least enough expertise in your circumstance to support you.  If you want a business coach, don’t choose a relationship coach.
  3. Make sure your needs are met.  I just had a client invest in a coach who gave her his “playbook” and it really didn’t fit.  You have the right to ask your coach to stay on your agenda.

Coaching can increase your effectiveness, improve your satisfaction, and keep your focused on what you want.  Even coaches need coaching.  So, what kind of coach are you?  Share your niche with us!

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Speaking Your Client’s Language

I am fascinated with the concept of staying in the coaching space with my client.  While I am listening, reflecting their words and working to hand back their thoughts and feelings, I am grateful for DiSC.

Here is a quick review of DiSC

D: Dominant, Direct, Driven

I:   Influencer, Inspiring, Inviting

S:  Steady, Supportive, Status Quo

C:  Conscientious, Contemplative, Cautious

A person whose primary communication style is “S” or “I” will typically be more in touch with their emotions, so questions that evoke feelings will help them hone in on what they want.

Here is a recent exchange with a person who exhibits a lot of “S”:

How does that make you feel?

“Oh I am overwhelmed and frightened.”

What would it feel like if you were not overwhelmed or frightened?

“Oh I would have an easy peace and know that everyone was fine.”

Tell me more about the feelings of harmony?

“There would just be more peace on my team, more collaboration”

What little steps (remember the “S” wants incremental, not drastic change) could you take to resolve this situation on your team?

“Well I guess I would have to talk to the person who is causing the trouble”

What would that feel like?

“A little scary but I have to do it for that sake of the team”

How can you approach her and maintain your sense of harmony?

“I am going to ask her first if we can talk about something that isn’t comfortable for me to talk about.  If she says yes I will describe my observations.”

And what will you do if she is unwilling to budge?

“Oh that would be so sad, but I guess I would have to let it go.”

Can you see how the use of questions that includes feelings, harmony, and help the client to own her solution?

Speaking each client’s language through rate, tone, and words really does get to the heart of the client’s known and unknown world.  When I use words, nuances, and questions that resonate with a client, they are more aware of their own thinking.

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How to Start Coaching Someone

Whether you are a direct seller coaching a down line member or a professional coach signing a new client contract, beginning a coaching relationship with clear expectations is important.

Creating a specific  time, calling procedure, setting a length for each session are essential logistic pieces to establish.  When you are contracting, the number of coaching sessions is an obvious part of the agreement.  I strongly recommend that if you are coaching your down line leader, you create a beginning and an end to the coaching agreement as well.

You might say, “Let’s begin this Monday and go for 12 weeks (or whatever time you choose).  We can assess the value for you at that time.” By setting a beginning and ending time the coaching part of your relationship is a bit more formal.  We have found that there are less “missed calls” or “I can’t meet today” with there is a finite length of time.  In essence the team member you are coaching takes it more seriously than just “I will talk to you each week.”

In the same manner, establishing a specific time for the call puts boundaries that take the coaching relationship to a structured agreement.

Lots of coaches use a Coach Prep Sheet for each session.  In the DSWA audio series coming out this fall, there is a great example of a Coach Prep Sheet in the accompanying workbook that direct sellers can use to help their team member gain more clarity about the call.

Personally, I keep notes on the person I am coaching, write down their action steps for the week and then email them to the person so they are talking points for the next call. That way the person I am coaching is always moving toward their bigger goal.

Whatever you do, make sure that you are creating a safe, defined space for the person you are coaching to set their own goals, create their action plans, and honor their time with you.

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ABC Coaching Strategies for Goal Setting That Work

ABC Coaching Strategies for Goal Setting That Work

We know goal setting works.  Coaching goal setting works even better because the coach, you, can hold the space for your team member or client to get real clarity on what they really want.  Here are a couple of strategies that have served our coaches well.

  • Ask for details about the goal.  Find the “why” behind the “what” by asking questions. Dig deep with the client to discover how the goal is relevant to the client’s values.
  • Break it down. Ask your team member to break the goal into actionable items. A goal such as “I want to earn $10,000 a month,” is very broad.  You as the coach can ask powerful questions about where the income will be earned, what activities will support the goal.
  • Consider obstacles.  This is something a coach can do to really support goal setting and goal achievement.  Thinking about what might get in the way, allows time and preparation for the team member to figure contingency plans, count the cost and gain confidence in achieving the goal.

For more information on coaching goals, strategies, action plans, and accountability, think about joining the Ultimate Coach University community.  We offer coach training a topics such as this one and a place for you to practice your coaching skills.

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Three Steps to Help Your Team Increase Productivity

Increasing productivity in a sales team is golden!  You earn more, they earn more and everyone is happy.  So what can you do to increase productivity?  Here are a couple of thoughts that have worked for many of my clients who have adopted a coach approach to increasing productivity.

  1. Use bottom up goal setting.  This one is tough because many of you have been giving numbers to hit or goals to achieve. This is the top down goal setting method common in business.  Do your best to resist breaking your goals down into what they “need” to do.  Instead, spend time with key producers asking what they want to achieve.  More often than not, their goals are more ambitious than yours. 
  2. Use coaching to develop action steps.  After you discover what they are committed to do. Ask more questions to design an action plan with them.  This works to help them break down the goal into smaller chunks and even bite size time increments.  You might say, “What are you doing this week?” Follow through with “When do you want to do it?” and express your belief that they will make it happen.
  3. Find out how you can support them.  One of smartest sales leaders I know has said, “Do you want me to push you, pull you, or get out of your way?”  Remember you can always check in, change the way you follow up with your team.  Allowing your team the autonomy of deciding how you follow up with them fosters independence. 

Make increasing productivity a win-win process. Learn what is important to them and be sure they recognize increasing productivity as a path to achieving the benefits they care about. Ask, “What’s in it for the other person to perform well?” and “Why would they care about increasing productivity?” Discuss the benefits openly and seek creative ways to reward desired behaviors.

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Five Things You Can Do to Help Your Team Find Their Own Solutions

Do you really want to help your team find their solutions or would you really rather that they found what you think they should do?

I’m not just being a smarty-pants.  I have found many leaders say they want to help their people find the solution that is right for them, but too many leaders really spend a lot of time telling their team members what works for them.  Leaders often assume “What works for me, must work for everything?”

I have even heard some leaders say, “I can’t teach them anything other than what I do.”    I have had many clients tell me that they are so tired of a team member calling them for information that is on the website, or in the training materials, or was just taught at the last meeting.

So if you really want your team members to find their own solutions, keep reading these five simple coaching tips.

1. Believe they can find the right answer on their own.  Simple, and yet many of us jump in to fix or rescue our team members before we tell them we believe in their ability to solve a problem.

2.  Stop talking, start listening.  Ask, “What do you think you should do?” and then close your mouth. Listen.  Take notes if you have to so you repeat key thoughts your team member is saying.

3. Ask them to think of several solutions so they can find the best solution.  You might say, “Jen, I know you have the answer inside of you.  Play with me and think of several possible solutions so you can pick the best one.”  Then, go back to #2.

4. Send them to do research.  If they tell you they don’t know what to do, invite them to do their own research. You might say, “Where could you find possible solutions?” or “Who do you know who is good at ______________ (the situation)?”

4. Challenge them to action.  After listening and reflecting their answers, let them know you believe they are able to make it happen.  Congratulate them on finding an answer, and ask “When do you want to put that into action?”

When we stop creating a space where they think we have all the answers we will start to create more independent thinkers.  Don’t give up on yourself.  You will catch yourself just telling them what to do.  Hang in there, they will find solutions that they own.

Okay, so try this out, see what you think, and let me know what happened.

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Three Tips for Making it Easy to Give Feedback

Whether you are a leader of an organization, managing a team, or a coach, you will be giving feedback to others.  Remember that feedback can be “on course” or “off course.”  We receive these messages all day.  What is working and what is not working to get me to where I want to go is the purpose of feedback.

Here are three tips to make it easier for YOU to give feedback.

  1. Ask permission to give feedback. This helps many coaches to pause and think about their intentions and reminds both of you that the giving of feedback is a gift, not an instruction.  You might say, “May I give you some feedback that I feel might support you?”
  2.  Give your feedback in observation mode.  Feedback is your expression of an observation. External feedback, coming from you, is easier to give if you recognize that it is just your experience of that person.  Be mindful that your truth is “your truth,” not necessarily “the truth.”  Approach the feedback conversation with an attitude of observation, not criticism. 
  3. Concentrate on the behavior, not the person.  Before you give feedback, think about the behavior not the person.  “I have noticed you are not making the goals you have set.  Would you be open to some feedback about goal setting?” instead of “You aren’t cutting it and you need to change your ways.”

Try these simple steps before giving feedback.  Let me know how they work.

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