Coaching Tips

Should Your Client Quit or Not?

Iditarod Red LanternWe respect those who finish. A recent Seth Godin blog reminded me of this.  Seth wrote about The Red Lantern, which is the Iditarod reward that goes to the last person to finish the race.  The lantern is the reward for those who push through to the end. The Iditarod has found a way to recognize the value of hanging in to the finish.

As a coach, I’ve always struggled with finding the right balance for my clients between finishing what they start and moving on to a different goal.  Here are 19 key questions to sort through what is often a mixed motive situation:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to you to hit this goal?
  2. Are you being driven by your courage or bravado?
  3. How do the costs and benefits look to you at this point?
  4. How do you feel about cutting your losses?
  5. What’s the win if you redirect your goal now?
  6. What’s the loss?
  7. How will you regain your sunk costs?
  8. What will you do to forgive yourself for stopping?
  9. How will you reward yourself for finishing?
  10. What’s changed?
  11. What hasn’t changed?
  12. Are you being internally or externally motivated right now?
  13. How would you feel if it was just you?
  14. How would you feel if you influenced others to do the same thing?
  15. What would _____________ tell you to do?  [Superman? Batman? Your mother?]
  16. What’s your gut reaction right now?
  17. What would happen if you put off deciding for 24 hours?
  18. How would you decide right now?
  19. If you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

The race is not always to the swift.  For Aesop, slow and steady wins the race. As coaches, we cannot decide on the right course of action for our clients.  Even more fundamentally, we need to do our best to avoid influencing their decision.

Think of a recent situation where you were coaching in a mixed motive situation.  What’s the question you would add to this list?

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Three Key Insights on Language and Coaching

Language and reality for coachesThree umpires are arguing about their role in a baseball game.  The most intense argument is about their role in calling balls and strikes. 

The first umpire says (matter-of-factly), “The pitcher pitches.  If he throws a strike, I call it a strike.  If he throws a ball, I call it a ball.”

Throwing fuel on the argument’s fire, the second umpire says, “I just call them as I see them.  If it looks like a strike, that’s what I call it.  If it looks like a ball, then I call it a ball.”

The third umpire puffs up his chest and ends it all. “It ain’t nothing until I call it.”

How do your clients express their view of the world in their language?

Is their world out there and their job is to reflect reality?

Maybe they realize that their mental state plays a role and their role is to select the reality.

OR, maybe your client wants to hide the reality that others see and play a role to deflect it through their language.

What is your role as a coach in working with your client’s reality as it shows up in their language?

As coaches, we often see our role as supporting our clients in seeing alternatives.  How will you do that if your client wants to hide from the reality you want them to see?

When we treat our words as simple vehicles to describe what’s what, we give up on the richness of our surroundings.  And in that richness are the grounds for the best coaching.

How will you coach your client on their use of language to reflect, select, or deflect reality?

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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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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.

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

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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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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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Ten Questions to See How Your Coaching Culture is Doing

Your Coaching CultureWith the explosive boom in self-development over the last decade, the growth of the coaching business is pretty predictable.  While executives have used coaches for decades, only recently has it also become a part of corporate culture at other levels.  When companies hire external coaches, they have some certainty that what is called “coaching” really is.  High percentages of external coaches are trained as coaches and bring that professional training with them.  Internal coaching is a developing field.  Internal coaches are seeking training, developing internal coach training program, and approaching coaching as a proactive (rather than a reactive) strategy for development.

Whether the coaches are internal or external, HR departments are very positive in their reactions.  The biggest change found in the 2013 Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey is the response of the HR professionals.  As that report summarizes, “Human resources and training professionals report a double-digit increase in their confidence in the value of coaching. The number of contributors from HR and training who now see the value of executive coaching as ‘very high’ jumped from 63% to 75%.”

If you are responsible for developing a coaching culture, here are 10 key questions that will help you shape the program to get what you want:

1. How often are formal coaching conversations being initiated?

2. Is coaching viewed as helpful and proactive or remedial and threatening?

3.  Are coaching conversations used for personal development, performance improvement, or both?

4.  Are the executives verbally supporting a coaching culture?  Are they being coached?

5.  How is coaching being celebrated?

6. How often do leaders in the company initiate impromptu coaching conversations?

7. What resources are available to improve listening, feedback, and questioning skills?

8. Are peer engaging in sideways coaching?

9. What feedback are coaches receiving about their activities?

10. What external evaluations of the coaching process are being undertaken?

Coaching is not effective when it is offered as an “if you build it they will come” program.  Like other company initiatives, your goals, resources, and emotional commitment are primary determinants of the results.

At Ultimate Coach University, we’d welcome the chance to support you in building your coaching culture.

I’m curious.  What questions would you ask to shape a coaching culture?

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Good Coaches Make Good Neighbors

Coaches are like nieghborsWith apologies to Robert Frost, the metaphor about “good fences make good neighbors” also seems to fit with coaching.  Coaches recognize the boundaries; they love fences.  Coaches want to coach.  They don’t want to mentor, train, or do.  That’s a very important fence.  How else do coaches make good neighbors?  Here are some thoughts.

Coaches are a positive force.  As a coach, you want to raise and not tear down.  As Author Baer describes neighbors, “A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.”  As a coach, you want to be the person who smiles and maintains an optimistic disposition.  You want to be the neighbor that is there to put a sunny disposition on the situation.

Coaches are more than a person.  As a coach, you fulfill a role and do a job.  You are a coach and you do coaching.  You seek to understand and to ask empathic questions.  Gilbert Chesterson would describe you by saying, “Your next-door neighbor is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.”

Not very coach fits every client.  Like neighbors, you need to realize that not everyone will have universal appeal.  While all coaches would work to be good neighbors, not everyone will strike you that way. Louise Beal closes this thought with her statement about neighbors: “Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose your neighborhood.”

There are probably more positive things to say about coaches than they make good neighbors.  On the other hand, there is a whole universe of worse things.  How would you be described as a neighbor?  Would you make a good coach?

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