Posts Taged productivity

Sharpening the Saw

sharpening of saw bladesWhen I coach high performers, one of the hardest things for them to do is relax.  They are so tied up in performing that they can’t turn it off.  The result, after a while, is a loss of emotional balance and a weakened  work performance. When we talk about it in their coaching call, they start to identify the issue (“I need some time off”).

In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the very last one is called the “Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal.”  More commonly, it is known as Sharpen the Saw.  The metaphor he uses to explain this is straightforward.  If you were cutting down a tree, it would be much easier with a sharp saw.

What we don’t often think about is the four dimensions of self-renewal.  On a holiday weekend, there is a perfect opportunity to experience a little of all four.

1. Spiritual Renewal.

In the U.S., we have an opportunity to reflect on gratitude.  What was your part of remembering gratitude on Memorial weekend?  What are you grateful for and how will you show it?  Can you spend a little extra time this week contemplating all that has gone right in your life so far this  year?  Who will listen as you share those perfect feelings?

2. Physical Renewal.

Food is a part of your holiday weekend.  Holidays are also some of the highest alcohol consumption days.  While the consumption binge is briefly satisfying, we also get an opportunity to catch a little extra sleep, relaxation time, and (for the food guilty) even some exercise.

3. Social/Emotional Renewal.

With time away from work, you have an opportunity to spend more time with our family and friends; you can renew familial bonds and friendships.  Sharing a meal is more than breaking bread.  You also share the bonds made and strengthened over the table.

4.  Mental Renewal.

When you take the time to slow down, you can spend a little time letting your minds wander in some new directions.  You catch up on the news, daydream, plan without pressure, and maybe even catch-up on some list making and office cleaning.

While these four areas all seem unique, they share a common trait:  you can only engage in renewal by being proactive.   When you are driven by the urgent, renewal doesn’t happen.

Ask yourself a simple question:  Do I really need a holiday to sharpen my saw?  Obviously, you don’t have to have a holiday.  You can establish a habit by building time in your schedule for renewal.  This doesn’t mean just thinking about it.  Unless you build the time in your schedule, you won’t set the time to break your old habits.  Ironically, the one that most people don’t take seriously is mental renewal.  We schedule time off; we have vacations.  What most people don’t do is schedule time for mental development.

  • When is that last time you took a class to improve your job performance?
  • What are you scheduling on a regular basis to develop new skills and attributes?
  • How often do you talk with outside business acquaintances without trying to sell them something?

With a three day weekend just finishing, you’ve found time to do a little sharpening.  I know I did. But don’t stop there.  What are you doing to sharpen your saw this week?  Month? Summer?

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Want Your Employees to Stick Around? Try Coaching

Coaching benefit: employee retentionWhen you invest in a coach, you want to know that coaching is going to matter.  You make a choice to spend invest in your future.  You could take classes at a community college; you could hire a consultant to tell you what to do; you could just keep doing what you’ve always been doing.  Instead, you are investing in a coach.  While no coach can give you a concrete guarantee of the results of coaching, there are some good indications that it’s worth your investment.

You get your money’s worth. On the Ultimate Coach University website, we provided some of the benefits found in the studies of the return on investment in coaching. The numbers are astounding.  The International Coach Federation documents a return on investment from some companies of 50 to 1.

One of the benefits to having a coaching culture that isn’t always recognized is retention.

Coaching improves retention.  When you ask people how coaching changes their outlook, you will hear them say things like:

  • I felt heard
  • I felt more in control
  • I figured out how to get along with my director.

People who experience feelings like that are more likely to stay around.  They don’t feel oppressed by their surroundings. Interestingly, employees who work with the coaching client also are more likely to stay.  I’ve coached many executives in direct selling companies.  When I talk with their direct reports, I commonly hear them talk about how their boss is easier to work with and more pleasant to be around.  They will also add that they are feeling more productive.

One of the more famous studies on ROI is from MetrixGlobal, which found a return of 5 to 1 for every dollar invested. They found that ROI was boosted even higher when you include the financial benefits of retention.  Retention boosts the ROI of coaching by an addition 2.5 to 1.

Numbers like these make coaching sound too good. I wouldn’t believe them either if I weren’t a coach and have the opportunity to talk with companies that have a coaching culture.  They think it’s worth every penny.

I love coaching.  I love hearing people reach a new awareness of the future they can create.  I may never get to see the results of the coaching, and I’m okay with that because I know that it’s making a difference in their life.

 

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The Secret of Mastermind Groups

MastermindWho wouldn’t want to be in a mastermind group? And what coach wouldn’t want to work with one?  The name says it all:  MASTERMIND; complete understanding; supreme oneness with anything that matters; peace with the universe.  I’ve wanted to coach a mastermind group for several years but couldn’t get past the planning stage.  I was going to have to describe to possible participants the characteristics of a mastermind group and the reasons to be in one.  What makes a mastermind group unique and why is it better than regular group coaching?  I couldn’t figure it out.  Then the light bulb moment hit.  I was over-thinking it all.  (Isn’t there something ironic about making that decision after 14 months?)  Here is the difference:  The core distinction between group coaching and mastermind group coaching is a single word, “mastermind.”  This word creates three differences.

Mastermind groups are synergistic.  As the group participants come together in a mastermind group, they create a power greater than that which can be explained as simple group dynamics.  They create a mastermind.  Napoleon Hill describes it best, “You may catch a significant suggestion from this statement: No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” For Hill, this is a spiritual energy that “becomes available to every individual brain in a group.”

Mastermind groups are cooperatively competitive. While that sounds like a contradiction in terms, it’s not.  Every participant in a mastermind group plays full-out and in doing so, pushes everyone else to do the same.  The best competitors in the world will tell you that the competition is really within them.  It’s not a matter of beating the other person; you have to beat yourself.  When you join a mastermind group, you agree to do that: to not hold back; to push everyone else so that they will push you; to cooperatively drive everyone to their best level.  Ginger Cockerham refers to this concept in her book, Group Coaching: A Comprehensive Blueprint.   She writes, “As the group evolves from an unformed group of individuals seeking personal achievement and becomes a formed group of interactive and interdependent members, participants understand that they have a vested interest in supporting and encouraging other members to achieve the outcomes they want.”

Mastermind groups are highly creative. Regular coaching depends primarily on the creativity of one person—the one being coached.  Most group coaching does the same thing.  A mastermind group is different.  When you participate in a mastermind, you have the opportunity to offer alternatives, weigh ideas from the other participants. Napoleon Hill talks about Andrew Carnegie, who surrounded himself with about 50 men in his mastermind so that he had plenty of people to weigh in with their ideas.

Once I developed a clear mindset of the mastermind, I began to understand how my role as a coach shifts.  Here’s how:

  • My job is to build the mastermind.  When I grow the mastermind, everyone in the group benefits.
  • My job is to coach less and facilitate more.  My role is to allow others to coach, challenge, and innovate.
  • My mindset requires me to stay coach-like without behaving like a coach.

Please react.  I’ve you’ve been in a mastermind, what made it different for you?

 

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Coach Approach: Embracing the Tension in Planning

Contemplating Planning TensionsSeveral of the International Coach Federation’s Core Competencies are about designing actions, planning and goal setting.  As a coach, you can increase your productivity with your clients by embracing the tension inherent in the client’s planning process. Be curious about that tension.  Since the client is planning his future, the possible course of action is not certain:  new facts are discovered; attitudes change; and new options are uncovered. By being curious, you can support the client in exploring, designing, and executing well.

Tension and uncertainty are often desirable during the planning phase.  The uncertainty creates a little bit of fear and adrenalin and that lets the client operate at a higher energy level.  While that sounds a little counterproductive, it’s not.  If you really don’t care which options you choose or what happens, you won’t plan well.  It’s only when the outcome matters that you try.

There are four types of tension that I think are important to recognize:

Tension exists between action and inaction. Your natural tendency is to “stay the course” rather than change.  When the client says “I want to become more productive” there is an assumption that there is a better course of action.  This is a perfect opportunity to explore the thoughts and feelings of the client that something isn’t right.  While the client may want to push ahead, I’ve also had clients say at this point, “It’s really not that bad” or “there’s no sense upsetting the routine to do this.”

Tension exists between profitability and growth.  While you think of these as business terms, they can be applied in lots of different setting.  Is it time to cash out or invest? Is it better to rest and re-energize or go all out?

Tension exists between the short-term and the long-term.  Several of my clients are in direct sales.  A common choice that they have is between building systems for slow and steady growth or instituting a campaign mentality.  Do you want to march forward or leapfrog?

Tension exists between the whole and the parts.  Let’s say you are working with a client who wants a more balanced life.  As you work to discover balance, a natural trade-off appears between the different pieces.  Some need to be snipped and others expanded. Which changes will produce balance?

Finding the tension and digging into it often helps the client clarify their intentions and actions.  When the actions start to happen, the course is often a better one.

What about you?  What tensions are you finding in your clients to explore?

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