Author: necoaching

Selling Training / Coaching to Organizations

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employeesProfessional development is not an easy sell. In fact in many organizations, training is seen as a discretionary cost and, if budgets are tight, it is often one of the first things to be cut. This maybe perceived as understandable as often associated benefits are less tangible and impact is not typically immediate.

Consequently for those selling their training or coaching services, one needs to be mindful of the agenda of those to whom they are selling to. Quite often it starts with speaking with a Human Resources representative who is charged with the responsibility of identifying a suitable program and vendor. They in turn will typically present and justify their recommendation to the Business Leader of the people identified for training. So here are a few key considerations (and associated questions) to think about depending on whom you are dealing with.

What’s Important to Human Resources
1. Curriculum
What does the program involve in terms of training manual and assessments used? How long does it last and what experiential components are there?
2. Trainer Qualification
Who are the trainers, what’s their style and backgrounds?
3. Testimonials
Who else has done this training? What has been their experience? Can we speak with somebody?
4. Cost (if coming from OD budget)
How much will it cost and how many per class?

What’s Important to the Business Leader
5. Business Benefits
How will my group be better as a result? What are the deliverables? What has been your experience with a similar discipline in another organization?
6. Program Duration
How do you propose to do this training? How much time will participants be away from their work? What else do they have to do?
7. Participation
Who are the best people to put in the first group or should I put those who need it most?
8. Cost (if coming from business unit budget)
How much will it cost and what’s the return on investment

Final Tip: Consider coaching the Human Resource representative on how best to subsequently sell to the Business Leader by sharing all 8 tips.

Keys to Employee Engagement

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employeeEmployee engagement is the collective level of intellectual and emotional commitment employees have toward their work and organization. More and more organizations are embracing this as a means to understanding how they measure up from an engagement perspective. Consequently many different types of tools and surveys are now being accessed to help create some objectivity as to how people feel about their work.

Once these surveys are undertaken and organizations wish to elevate their engagement score, three areas where significant developmental opportunities exist are:

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Do qualities such as being responsive, empowering, resilient, expansive, empathetic, authentic and present best describe people worth following? Emotionally intelligent leaders clearly understand that their approach is less about them and more about, through these qualities, supporting and coaching the people who make it happen. This very much compares to what Jim Collins in “Good to Great” described as Level 5 Leaders; those having Personal Humility and Professional Resolve.

Highly Motivated Employees

Employee motivation is influenced by a number of factors namely your job role, your boss, the team you associate with and the organization (and culture) you are part of. Based on these criteria, it is important to ensure that the motivational need of the individual compares favorably to what is available to them; there is a fit. By focusing on developing these areas, employees are provided with a greater sense of belonging and desire to make a more meaningful contribution.

Use of Coaching Skills

The very essence of coaching involves supporting other people’s success. The skills are rooted in connecting through listening, questioning, acknowledging and validating and genuinely supporting the other person. However there is also a clear focus on action but one that can be agreed upon, acted on and recognized when complete. Coaching is used to provide people with the resources, knowledge and skills to make positive decisions/actions that can advance the individual and their organization.




Perception is one’s view of Reality

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perception 2How do people perceive you and how important is this really? The predominant relationships within a business environment are typically with one’s boss, peers and direct reports. They could also be customers, vendors, shareholders, etc. The quality of these relationships is formed primarily from the perceptions that exist between parties. And if it’s not good, it can do untold damage to reputation and more critically one’s ability to perform and succeed.

The secret is that in order to change another person’s perception of you, you have to change YOU. Here are a few ways of doing just that.

  • Develop greater self awareness by observing yourself more attentively in action. What are you doing that might be conveying an unintended message? How do you respond to what others have to say? What are you not doing that you should be?
  • Seek out feedback from others on how you are perceived. Sometimes we do not realize the impact we have and the negative perceptions we generate. We all have blind spots. Have you ever heard yourself saying, following feedback from others, “I never knew I always said that” or “I didn’t realize I was having such an adverse impact”?
  • Develop awareness of other people’s needs. Walk in their shoes, be empathetic and try to imagine how you would view things if roles were reversed. The more you give the more you get. Genuinely help others to succeed and they will facilitate your success also.
  • Hone your communication style that builds connections. Look for opportunities to make subtle changes such as listening more attentively or asking questions that the room can benefit from (rather than to show everyone how smart you are). Make your conversations more about other people’ needs and they will see you in whole different positive light.

Remember you have considerable control over how others perceive you. In the words of Gandhi, “be the change you want to see”. These subtle changes can have exponential positive affects.

Behavioral Expectations

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“Constructive Disagreement, Then Loyalty”. I still remember this vividly as a behavioral expectation for a company I worked with over 25 years ago. There were 9 others which I don’t recall but with this one it encouraged debate, point of view, even disagreement; but then there was an expectation that once a decision was made, everybody would be committed and loyal. I liked that!

dogAs part of any planning process, most progressive companies labor over how they want the management and staff in order to execute upon the strategic intent. Much of what they come up with is truly admirable and there is a consensus that if everybody was to follow along, it would be a magnificent place to work and success would be eminent. Unfortunately most of it goes no further than the paper it is written on. Why is this?

In truth, like may similar endeavors, it is high on intent and poor on execution. For many, conforming to these expectations requires them to behave different to what they normally do. If constructive disagreement, then loyalty doesn’t sit well with you outside of work, you can’t just hit a switch and expect that you will when inside.

The other obvious reason is that in order to ensure a certain expectation of behaviors, those leading must model them. However many of these “leaders” think in terms of how others should show up rather than taking a hard look in the mirror themselves. Jim Collins, in the book Good to Great, put it so eloquently when he described Level 5 leaders as possessing this unique blend of personal humility and professional resolve. Associated with these traits are some unique behaviors that were modeled by these successful leaders but then subsequently expected of their employees.

In the end, these are only expectations and, in reality, sometimes they are present and often not. However there is an honorable intent in creating them in the first place and with perseverance, they can be slowly woven into the fabric of an organization. Behaviors are a function of one’s Emotional Intelligence and when combined with Intellectual Capacity form the bridge to organization success and sustainability. What do you think?

Diminishing Return?

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Recently President Obama announced a change in Labor Laws so that more people would qualify for overtime payment. On many le11840859_blogvels this is a good thing, but it also points to the bigger question as to why, particularly Americans, place such emphasis on overtime and whether at some point, more actually becomes less. When you think about it, overtime was essentially designed as a contingency for completing a task on time when something has gone wrong. However in many cases it has become the new norm (hence the law change) and people are just working more hours.

However, it points to a simple question of whether working say an extra 10% hours will actually result in a 10% increase in productivity. Most people would typically answer not necessarily. There is a theory that work expands and contracts to the time that is available. People can always look busy but how productive are they really? In addition, the more people work, the less rested they are, personal life can become affected and consequently they may not be 100% “fit” when they come to work. So is overtime really a waste of time?

In Europe it has been widely broadcasted as to how in France the normal work week is 35 hours, in Italy they have 4 weeks’ summer vacation and yet these economies are still productive. But more importantly, and this is been seen in many of the newer ventures on the US (Google, Zappos, etc), that performance is no longer viewed in productivity terms, (Output / Time) but rather in attitude, team work, behavior, coaching and problem solving skills. Where employees have these attributes, things happen and results get realized. Is putting in more time an easy answer, but ultimately the wrong answer?

In the long term, with a focus on providing more skills rather than more time, productivity will increase and people will be fresh to meet these demands because they will have had the rest to give of their best in the actual time allotted. In reality, though there are always some exceptions, overtime eventually reaches a point of diminishing return. What do you think?

Clarity and Mystery

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While viewing a TedTalk recently, the presenter, a graphic design artist, described the contrasts of clarity and mystery as it pertained to his work in creating layouts for book covers. This got me thinking about how in our daily interactions with people there is often quite a propensity for clarity and mystery relative to the conversation and general interactions we engage in.

flowerIn truth clarity is the antidote to mystery. If you meet somebody for the first time, there is some mystery but time can provide clarity relative to better understanding the individual. When messages are conveyed, there can be mystery relative to the tone, the timing, even the messenger, and in the absence of some clarity, the message can be largely misconstrued. Within our everyday lives whether it’s the news media, politicians or business leaders, there is an element of mystery as we try to better understand biased agendas and uncover the real truth.

When we are in a place of clarity, the mystery is absent and we feel confident. We become informed which ultimately leads to making better decisions. Yes mystery has a place in books and movies but in everyday living, clarity is the epitome of where we want to reside.

So when looking for clarity, what are some key skills that you can employ:

  • Questioning is by far the most obvious, however it must be done correctly so as to solicit the truth. An incorrect answer still leaves a mystery even though you may not realize it. Ask so that it engages the other person.
  • Listening consequently becomes equally critical so that you can analyze what is being said, thus leading to additional questions to get to the core
  • Acknowledgement builds rapport (they are being heard) and consequently will make somebody more inclined to trust and tell the truth

This spiral interaction from Questioning to Listening to Acknowledging and then back into Questioning again is where a mystery can become unraveled and true clarity emerges. Years ago when trying to resolve production problems, the Japanese came up with the concept of asking Why 5 times to ultimately get to the root cause (aka clarity). So as a leader, parent, teacher or coach, when somebody presents you with what seems a mystery, work through the 3 step process above and eventually the clarity will emerge.


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changeMuch has been written on the topic of change whether it’s around resistance to change, the need for change, the impact of change or something else. However you look at it, there is certainly an inevitability associated with it, so why not embrace it and take greater control of its impact?

As with many situations one can be either be at the cause or effect of some “change” event, or perhaps be the player or the victim. All too often people take a passive role and let life pass by rather than take the perhaps riskier position of being proactive and seeing change for all the positivity it can present. In the famous works of Gandhi, we should “be the change you want to see”.

To embrace change in this manner, the following 6 drivers might be helpful.

  • Awareness – this is where everything starts relative to the people and environment around you and, being mindful of where you are at in that moment, is also critically important.
  • Readiness – one needs to be willing and able to embrace whatever is about to happen and have dealt with all possible internal resistance.
  • Opportunity – with every challenge comes an opportunity, and seeing it through the lenses of positivity is critical.
  • Confidence – this is necessary in order to forge through the inevitable external resistance that will be encountered.
  • Energy – though the intellectual capacity might exist, the real drive will come from with within in terms of engagement, commitment and motivation.
  • Worth – make it impactful rather than “change for the sake of change”; then the next time there will be far less resistance.

Think about a change event you are considering, and assess what it means in terms of the above. What is you awareness level relative to its impact (for you and others)? How ready are you? What is the possibility that might result from this event? How confident are you? How driven are you to see it through? And finally, does the outcome really justify the effort?

Every day we deal with change and when you embrace it can be a true gift. That is not to say that all change is good but if you choose to embrace it (player/cause) rather than let it control you (victim/effect), it will serve you well. What do you think?

Performance v’s Feedback

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timeFor those working in supervisory or management positions, the reminder of conducting Performance Reviews is most always met with, “oh, do we have to?” Similarly for the person on the other end of this process, there is an equal level of trepidation. Why has a fundamental form of feedback lost its intended purpose and become relegated to the lower echelons on one’s To Do List.

There are a number of factors contributing to its current status. One has to do with the frequency in that it has become this annual event; surely if it was important, it would happen more often. Secondly, it is viewed as an administrative activity and, for some unknown reason, important to have in the individual’s file. The third is because HR needs it done and while it might hold relevance to them, its value to those performing it has become lost. Finally, all too often it is linked to pay, and performance can be quickly forgotten in the discussion if there is some dissatisfaction with pay. After all whoever feels like they are being paid enough?

This discussion is quite ironic because everything done in business is about optimizing performance; whether it’s higher sales, new product introductions or improved operational efficiencies. People however are not quite as tangible and unique talents and qualities often make it difficult to assess their contribution. Notwithstanding, there can be no denying that employees need to receive feedback relative to their performance. In order to make this process more effective and embraced by all, the following might help.

  • Performance should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. If something really good or bad happens, let the person know there and then and, if appropriate, let their file reflect it.
  • “Good” is something to build on and “Bad” is an opportunity to learn from – professional development and coaching is therefore key to managing and enhancing performance
  • Ensure the above is consistently happening throughout the organization. It can never be the responsibility of HR to ensure people performance is managed; that makes no sense. Equally it cannot be the remit of selective members of management; it needs to be a cultural expectation.
  • While pay and performance are intrinsically linked, they should not be part of the same conversation. Per 1 above, performance is an ongoing discussion, pay should be annual.

Performance and feedback are intrinsically linked. By doing it often and adapting accordingly, the performance trajectory can only be upwards and that’s all that matters.


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In a recent HBS article, Jim Heskett presented some initial thoughts on the whole concept of self-management, where traditional management is removed and people essentially manage themselves as part of teams or “circles”. He cites many companies such as Taco Bell, Google and more recently, who have gone down this path with mixed success.

It’s probably safe to say that where good managers (or leaders) exist, things will go well and the traditional hierarchical structure cannot be argued with. However management comes at a significant cost and much of it is either top heavy, ineffective or simply not adding value. Mindful of this, there is an opportunity for a greater level of self-management certainly in lieu of poor or ineffective managers. Compounding this thought process are the millennials who are beginning to dominate the workplace. They are perceived as having more confidence and non-traditional work habits, and less concern about security and authority; all of which is consistent with more self-management.

One solution to this is to have fewer management dealing with more people but functioning as a coach rather than a traditional manager. Within this model lies the possibility of the coach / manager laying out the strategy but ultimately it being “up to the players on the field” to execute. A scoring system needs to be established and where performance is not up to par, there must be consequences that are fully understood. Though this is a model that we are more familiar with relative to sports, perhaps there is something to be garnered from it within organizations.

The key to be any great coach is having the interpersonal skills to optimize the talents and motivation of the team. Once you achieve this, then with a focus on execution, self-management can kick in, with team members taking responsibility, acting with authority and confidence, and ultimately being accountable to each other.

In conclusion, it is my belief that a hybrid must exit in that self-management can only function effectively in the presence of a coach, who provides the context (overall strategy) and has the ability to lead (communicate and motivate).

What do you think??

Real Hobbies are not “Pass-Times”

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golf 2Though many people find the idea of chasing a little white ball around a golf course for 4+ hours as being something close to madness, the reality is that this is more than an activity to just “pass time”. It challenges your skill, patience, perseverance, mental resolve and not alone do you compete with others but you also yourself. People come off a golf course with a wide range of emotions from elation to total frustration and every conceivable feeling in between. At a basic human level it actually fulfills a fundamental human need.

The late Robin Williams is famous for his sketch about golf (click here for great laugh!). Though not for the faint hearted due to his unique style, he takes on the Scottish accent as he hilariously describes the origin of the game. As he does you can see many metaphors about life, it terms of the tools we are given (golf clubs, balls, etc), the challenges we get presented with (trees, bunkers, tiny hole to put ball into, etc) and then the expectations in terms of results (strokes, scorecard, etc). This sounds pretty similar to what happens every day we go to work!

Golf is also about performance and the positive energy that comes from doing something you love. You typically play in front of 3 other people, there might be money on it or it could be a tournament and so the outcome has a consequence. Most golfers are very nervous on the first tee; “oh please just get me to the fairway or I just don’t want to “duff” my first shot”, are pretty common thoughts. Because of this somebody even came up with the idea of having a “mulligan” to offset the first tee nerves. Of course the reason for this is that we all want to do well, experience success and, most importantly, feel good about ourselves.

And finally, the most critical aspect of golf is its social capacity. You get time to spend quality moments with other people and hear about the work, their families and more. Four to five hours with 3 people is a long time and can create many moments of conversation; it is this basic need for community and belonging that is at the very root of our human existence.

I am not suggesting that you run out and buy a set of golf clubs. Rather take a look at your hobbies or things you love to do and make them a key part of your life. These activities are not intended to “pass times” or be gap filers. In truth, they are as critical as everything else you do.