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You need a Coaching Champion

Portrait of smiling business people with thumbs up against whiteEvery cause needs a champion; the person who leads the charge forward.  Coaching initiatives are no different.  Whether you are trying to build coaching into a sales team or a company environment, you need someone to support you.  As a coach, you are passionate about what you do.  However, you can’t be your own champion. You need someone on your side.  What should you look for in your champion?

A Champion is your evangelist.

This person wants to champion the cause.  They are the visionary; the advocate who sees a productive role of coaching in lots of places.  Often your champion is the one who started it all for you.  They see a role for coaching in their team and are the first one with a coach.  While your evangelist loves you, they love coaching even more.  Their passion about coaching is what will shift the culture.

A Champion feeds you.

Coaching is not a one size fits all proposition.  You need insights into prospective coaching clients. You want to know what these clients want even before you talk with them. Do they want facts and results?  Maybe they want someone to talk with weekly so they can measure their progress.  Maybe they need someone to celebrate for them. As you get to know your prospects, you will start to understand how coaching can make a difference for them.  This all starts with your champion.  Your champion feeds you information.  Your champion provides honest feedback about what’s working and what’s not.  Your champion is your trusted adviser about the people around them.

A Champion builds your community.

In his or her own way, your champion is your banner carrier.  I’ve identified four ways to celebrate coaching. Each of these methods needs a champion to spread the word. The champion creates a place that others want to join.

Who will be your champion?  Identify and support the champion of your cause, and they will support you in ways that you can barely imagine.

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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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Listening Like a Coach: What It Means to Not Be Heard

DiSC listening stylesAt the recent three-day workshop for Ultimate Coach University in Salt Lake City, I was gob smacked by one of those AHA moments that we all love to get once in a while.  The first day of the workshop, we spend several hours talking about DiSC and how coaches can use it to understand their clients.  On the second day, we dig deeper into the fundamental skills of coaching.  It was on the second day when Dana Phillips was teaching the section on listening skills for coaches that my learning moment appeared.  Let me share it here.

DiSC is a profile tool provides insights into communication and personality styles.  While we all are capable of using all four styles, most of us tend to exhibit a stable pattern of behaviors.   The four basic styles are:

D is the Dominance style.  These people prefer immediate results.  Their action orientation creates quick decisions and authoritative behaviors.

The i is the Influence style.  These people generate enthusiasm, a motivational environment, and fun.

S is for the Steadiness style.  These people tend to cooperate; their patience and loyalty tend to produce harmony and stable environments.

C is for the Conscientious style.  These people emphasize systematic approaches that will produce accurate results.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with listening.  So here is the rest of the story.  As Dana Phillips gets started, she asks a very simple question.  “Will you describe to me what it feels like to not be heard?”  The answers in our group reflects the four DiSC styles.

  • The D said, “It was a waste of my time.”
  • The i said, “I was frustrated at being ignored.”
  • The S said, “I felt like I was not worth being listened to.”
  • The C said, “It was totally nonproductive.”

The lesson for me was pretty clear.  I can’t rely on my feelings of being heard because other people don’t think as I do.  As a coach, I want my clients to feel heard.  To do that, I need to speak their language in every way possible.

What do you think?  How do you know if you are speaking the other person’s language?

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Before You Coach: Reframe

Reframe before coachingWe have heard this from top leaders in party plan, network marketing, and direct selling.

“My team isn’t selling.”
“My team isn’t recruiting.”
“My team doesn’t get it.”

Many years ago, I was given some great advice.  Simple as it might seem, it has served me well as a leader.      She told me to always speak in the positive when I spoke about my team as a whole. 

Why?

First, she would question the paradigm behind the statement. “Everyone?” she would ask. “You can’t find one person who isn’t…”

Second, she had a wonderful way of reminding me that I was the one who brought most of them into the business.  It was not my responsibility to make them sell or recruit, but it was my responsibility to create and environment where they would want to succeed.

Then she would help me look at my own attitude.  She said every time I spoke of my team in the negative, I was tearing them down in my own mind.  She assured me that even if I never said those words to my team, they could sense my frustration.

Moreover, I was placing my intentions about my team as a whole in the wrong direction.  She taught me how to place my intentions about my team by reframing the way I saw them. 

Finally, she would remind me that I was the leader.  It was up to me to bring new, fresh, excited people to the team to keep things fresh. 

Think and speak of your team in the most positive way you can.  If there is someone who needs feedback, do it in private.  If there are challenges with performance, look first to your own personal business, then look to the individuals you may be able to influence.

While my mentor wasn’t coaching, I try to remember her advice when I am coaching sales leaders.  When we can support sales leaders to take off their self-made blinders, they have a completely new set of opportunities that weren’t available before.

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Four Ways to Celebrate Coaching

Celebrate CoachingPrior to the 90’s, most coaching was remedial.  Coaching’s purpose was to correct problems and it was often the last resort before firing. In the 90’s, coaching shifted to a positive; it gets the best out of people and creates a strong community at the same time. If you want to build coaching into your culture, you have to find ways to make it public and to celebrate it as a part of your team’s atmosphere.  Unless you find ways to celebrate coaching, it won’t grow. Here are four ways to celebrate coaching that are sure to get your team excited about the opportunity that coaching brings to their life.

Let them talk.  As a coach, part of your commitment is to maintain the confidentiality of your clients.  On the other hand, your clients don’t have to maintain confidentiality.  In fact, you should be excited when they want to tell others about it.  That’s “Word of Mouth” marketing at its best.  Your team members want to let others know about the great things happening, their struggles, and you.  This is a great way to build team support for coaching.  An additional side benefit is that the results are often more dramatic. Just think about it this way: If you were to start a diet and never tell anyone, you wouldn’t last very long. However, if you start a diet and make it public, your commitment level jumps and you increase the likelihood of your success.

Wouldn’t you want people to talk about being coached when it increases their chances of success?

Make Coaching Public Knowledge. You and the people who you coach are not secret agents. You don’t have to hide your behavior, only meeting in secret places after dark.  Before you start coaching, talk with your client about casual public communication about coaching that you will be having.  You want your client comfortable with letting people know she is being coached.  You won’t talk about what happens during the coaching but will make public the fact that coaching is occurring.  You now have permission to say things in public like:

  • How about we go to Starbucks for our coaching today?
  • I have to cut this short so I can make my appointment to coach Beth.
  • I am so excited about today.  I have lots of coaching calls scheduled.

Statements like these are an invitation to converse.  And you can talk about the role coaching is having in building your business and your team.

Solicit Testimonials.  Ask your clients to send you something in writing.  They will say nicer and more powerful things about coaching than you ever could.  Want to read some?  Dana Phillips asked several people to send her a brief note about what coaching has meant for them.  The results are powerful testimonials.  Sometimes you can even videotape quick statements and put them together.

Brag about Your Clients.  When you focus on the Four Guidelines for Building a Culture, you will start to see a lot of traction.  Let the culture speak for itself.  You can talk about the successes in the culture and those accomplishments will solidify the future of coaching as part of your team’s DNA. A great example of this is the way that Lyn Christian shares the successes of her salon coaching in the Paul Mitchell School and with the Progressions Salon.

You will know that you are on the right course with your celebrations when people start requesting coaching.

Thank you for reading about ways to celebrate coaching and extend it into your culture.

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The Secret to Coaching through the “I Don’t Know” Answer.

Coaching "I Don't Know"One of the hardest statements that a client hands to a coach is the one that starts “I don’t” and ends with “know.”  What should a coach say in order to continue moving the client forward? Your client has just told you that they don’t have an answer. What does that really mean?

I once heard a trainer tell me to ask, “If you did know, how would you answer?”  That’s clever, but blatantly calls your client a liar. How will you get your client to the point of answering without taking such a condescending approach?

I’ve had the honor recently of working with some excellent student coaches at Ultimate Coach University.  As they are finishing their training program, we take apart real coaching calls that they’ve had. With their client’s permission, the session is recorded and then the student coach and I discuss that session using a framework of the International Coaching Federation core competencies.

The “I don’t know” shows up at least once in every coaching call. Here are some approaches that I’ve heard used to great effectiveness:

Don’t Say anything.  Shut up.  The coach’s tendency is to rush in to fill the silence; to ask a new question or a rephrased one.  Sometimes when the client says “I don’t know” what it really means is that they haven’t asked or answered that question before.  When the coach rushes in, they are interrupting the client’s thoughts and the answer that is being formulated.  Deepak Chopra once observed that the space between thoughts is the place where insight can make itself known. When the coach hold a little bit of silence, wonderful thoughts start to appear.

Take smaller coaching bites.  Karen Bejjani from J. Hilburn has a great question that I’ve heard her use in classes and while coaching.  Her question is “Would you like to unpack what’s in that statement?” Her question treats the client as capable of answering.

“Talk to me” Questions. These questions just ask the client to talk and see what pops up.  It’s common for clients to discover their answer while they are talking.

When a client says that scary phrase, “I don’t know.” It seldom means that.

  • They may just have not put it into a sentence before.
  • They may have many thoughts and haven’t decided where to begin.
  • They may have a fear of saying their answer.

Your coaching task is to hold a space where the client is comfortable in providing an answer.

Thank you for reading about coaching clients through a tough answer.  If you like this, feel free to share it.  We’d love to have you comment with your thoughts.

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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?

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How Coaching Can Make You a Hero

Coaching Heroes transformWho wouldn’t want to be a hero?  Wikipedia defines a hero as “A person who performs extraordinary deeds for the benefit of others.” Yeah, it may not pay well and the hours may really suck, but what else can you do that get universal affirmations?  Unfortunately (or happily, depending on your perspective) heroes are made and not born.  You have to work to become a coaching hero.  Joseph Campbell describes the process of becoming a hero by saying, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” If you want to be a coaching hero, here’s what has to happen.

Follow your calling.  Ask anyone who is becoming a coach why they are doing it.  You hear things like:

  • People tell me that I do a lot of natural coaching.
  • I love listening to people talk about what they want to do with their business.
  • I’m curious about how people make their dream happen.
  • I get jazzed when I can help people figure out what to do.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wanted to become a coach because:

  • It pays really well.
  • I do a great job of managing people.
  • I got tired of working for a company and wanted to start my own business.

Coaches are people who are called to a quest.  It’s their fate.

Be transformed. Coaches don’t just spring fully born into the world.  Like other heroes, they go through a transformational process; they study, practice, reflect, coach, are coached, and do it again and again.  As coaches earn their title, they develop their coaching powers.  They can:

  • Understand what is not said as well as what is.
  • Ignore what they want in favor of the client’s needs and wants.
  • Act highly intuitively and hit the mark.
  • Create SMART goals with their eyes shut (just a little comic relief).

You may not notice it when you see a coach, but the coach knows. At the core, the coaching hero is in tune with their transformation.

Be willing to bestow boons.  Coaches have a different set of powers from most heroes.  Coaches know they are successful when the client succeeds and is willing to claim the credit.  Coaches bestow powers like:

  • Self-determination
  • Positivity
  • Proactivity
  • Self-awareness

How about you?

Are you a coaching hero?

Do you have a coaching hero?

Would you like to be a coaching hero?

At Ultimate Coach University, the goal is to unlock the coach in you, to set your hero free.  UCU Launch workshops start in March and May.  Leave a comment and we’ll fill you in.

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Get a Coach: The First Key to Starting Your Coaching Culture

First steps to a coaching cultureFor a decade or more, coaching has almost been seen as a perk of the executive position in large corporations.  In the past few years, interesting is growing in developing coaching as a method of interaction and development at virtually all company levels in all sizes of companies.  More and more, businesses are working to build coaching into the DNA of their culture.  The initial steps don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but you do have to make a commitment.  While most philosophers will tell you that the first step is the most important one, the step you choose need to be the right one.  Here is one informed suggestion.

Get a Coach.  When I say, “get a coach,” I mean get a credentialed coach or one who received their coach training through an accredited program.  You want someone who has the knowledge to interact well with you in a coaching encounter.  You want a coach who has been trained by professionals.   At a recent leadership training program, Betty (the name is to protect the innocent) approached me to have a conversation around coaching.  She said, “I tried coaching once, and it didn’t
work.”  As we continued the discussion, it became very apparent to both of us what went wrong.  Betty’s friend persuaded her to start coaching with a friend of a friend who was just beginning their coaching business.  This coach had no professional training other than “he had been to several weekend retreats where they taught coaching.”  Furthermore, he started his coaching career because a lot of “people at his old job told him that he would be good at it.”  While a step of this kind can be successful, it is more often the wrong one.

As with any buying decision, don’t take it lightly.

  • Google a phrase like “find a coach” or “hire a coach.”  Then research it like you would buying a car.
  • Go to a website of a professional organization like the International Coach Federation.  Most of them will let you search for coaches with credentials.
  • Talk to the coach before you hire.  Go with your gut.  How does this coach make you feel?

Start your coaching culture by working with a coach.  You’ll learn from the inside of the experience how it works; what you feel, think and do.  By experiencing coaching, you know how to grow the culture that fits your company.

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COACHING: Isn’t that what Gym Teachers Do?

Liz Cooper comments on coachingI know coaching works.  If you are thinking about being a better coach or becoming a professional direct selling coach, read this short essay written by one of my awesome clients. Here is what Liz Cooper has to say:

Coaching…the word alone brings back memories of numerous laps around the track field in oppressive East Texas heat.  Nightmares of wind sprints in a basketball gym that smelled of polished wood floors and sweat.  Needless to say “coaching” is not something that I really ever considered again.  After all, athletics never really became my passion.  Don’t get me wrong, I always had great respect for my coaches and knew the results they wanted us to achieve. I just never imagined that I would pay someone to “coach” me in a business.

A year into my business I became a trainer for the company.  It was a joy to be able to train new partners and share my enthusiasm. Then it happened…I hit the wall.  My sales were not coming as easily and my sponsoring seemed to just dry up. What was I going to do?  Was I going to let this beat me once again? The answer was NO!  But how was I going to get over this wall?  I had heard about “coaching” but didn’t think it was for me…boy was I wrong.

I hired a coach and realized that “coaching” was just what I needed. She asked me numerous questions that made me examine my business and my work habits. I had fallen into negative thinking and it was affecting all aspects of my business and my personal life. I had convinced myself that I was not good at sponsoring.  She never told me I was doing anything wrong, but made me realize what was and was not working. Through her coaching, I learned that I THINK more than I DO. My follow-up skills, with regards to team building, needed work. When I did have a chat with someone about the business I was failing to make the close.  I wasn’t even extending an invitation to join my team. I needed to treat team building just like client appointments. It sounds so simple, but the mental shift has been so beneficial.

To succeed, I need to work with intention and a plan.  Planning really does lead to success! Writing it down and charting my actions gives me a true picture of my efforts. Being accountable to Dana made me realize that I was not being accountable to myself.  So what have been my results?  The past two months I have had my personal best for sales. Two of my team members who have been in business over a year have sponsored their first team members! Talking to more people about this business has started to come much more easily for me.  I have had two chats with potential team members who are considering the business and I have two chats scheduled for next week with potential team members.

My business is moving forward and gaining momentum in every area.  I am sharing what I have learned from coaching with my current team members and everyone is benefiting.

Hiring a coach was a great decision!  There was no oppressive East Texas heat or smelly gyms to endure.  My fear of side cramps and shin splits was all for nothing.  Dana coached me out of my own way and helped me realize that through my actions, more success is right around the corner.

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