Case Studies

Below you will find examples of each of my most-used services.

COACHING

Senior Executive Coaching Here is the story of two very different CEOs. Stephanie is an experienced executive, and Tom is not. Working with Stephanie, I act mostly as a sounding board; in the process of our regular discussions she figures things out. I also hold her accountable – in her position, no one else does this for her. Tom requires a little more structure and instruction to go along with his strong gut instinct. Like many top-level leaders, Stephanie and Tom don’t have anyone they can discuss tough subjects with. So, whether it’s something they need to learn everything about, or they just need an outside, objective, unbiased and un-invested viewpoint, I can help.

For both Stephanie and Tom, we began by establishing objectives together, and then we worked toward achieving them over a set timeframe. The formal coaching sessions occurred on a weekly basis, although Stephanie’s were conducted mostly by phone. With Tom, I was available at almost any time to help him deal with difficult issues.

Tom commented, Ross was able to give me real time advice for ongoing issues and I was able to use Ross’s advice right away. Many times, outcomes were much better than if I had done it on my own. This worked out so well that I became much more confident in managing people myself.”

New Manager Coaching Many managers come from a technical, doer background; they were high-performers who were promoted to management. That’s where Melanie came from. The challenge for her was that she wasn’t a people manager. I specialize in helping non-people people become people people; in helping doers become enablers or facilitators; helping people with technical skills become great at managing others. Over the course of a few months, Melanie learned when and how to delegate, how to elicit input from her staff, what motivated her employees, and how to bring out the best performance in her team. While I guided her learning, I was not the teacher – she was. By taking this approach, she owned what she learned. Most of this occurred while Melanie and I weren’t even in the same city – we met face-to-face once a month, had regular weekly telephone sessions, and communicated whenever she needed support, advice or help with a project or personnel issue.

Melanie had this to say: “Ross has been a great help in developing a performance improvement plan for both me and my staff. He provided an objective perspective, relevant insights and simple, easy-to-use management tools. He helped identify some specific areas to focus on and the results have not only shown up in individual performance improvements, but it has also impacted the overall performance of our teams.”

Under-performing Employee Coaching The company (my client) had set a date to fire Ron. He just didn’t seem to be able to meet the expectations of his boss and the company, plus he had difficulties getting along with co-workers. I was contracted to coach him for 3 months; if he showed improvement I would continue to work with him for an additional 3 months. Ron’s boss felt it was best to give him one last shot. After all, the cost of replacing him was far greater than the cost of my coaching (perhaps as much as ten times as much). By clarifying expectations, discovering his communication and working styles, understanding behavioral traits, providing feedback, and gradually changing co-workers’ perceptions of Ron, the results could not have been better. Today, Ron is one of the company’s superstars, and is looked at as a model of high-performance.

Business Owner Coaching Carlos is typical of many business founders and owners: Now that the business has become successful, what to do? He has good people in place running the day-to-day operations, and yet Carlos still knows the business and the industry like the back of his hand. Until I began coaching him, his staff had very mixed feelings when he walked in the building. On one hand they enjoyed his knowledge and passion for the business and his personality. But on the other hand, he stirred things up; he would provide just enough input to confuse people, and to begin a change in direction. And then he was gone again. And the worst thing was that Carlos didn’t even realize what he was doing, like most people in this situation. By focusing on what Carlos personally wanted to do with his life and his business, setting some goals, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and providing him with a formal platform to address his staff, things changed dramatically. Now, his staff only looks forward to him coming in.

Carlos said, “At first I was skeptical about having a coach. I anticipated more ‘touchy-feely feedback’ than practical advice. Ross was a pleasant surprise. For me, managing people is the most difficult part of running an organization. Unfortunately, simple training doesn’t provide much enlightenment. Coaching, on the other hand, has been a huge help and it’s because of both who Ross is and how he coaches. Ross’s experience, insights and wisdom have been instrumental in helping me stay focused in critical times. He has helped me see new ways of thinking about both problems and opportunities. Finally, Ross’s genuine care and enthusiasm about my success have boosted my confidence and increased the level of enjoyment I find in my work.”

CONSULTING

Performance Strategy Many companies talk about having a performance strategy because they have a performance management program. But to them, performance management consists of an annual performance review. That’s not a performance management program, and it’s definitely not a performance strategy. The performance strategy I developed and implemented for HordeCo involved performance reviews – quarterly, but even then they were probably different from what you’re used to – but it was much more than that. HordeCo had an overall strategic plan for the business. They had a marketing plan, a sales plan, and R&D plan, and even a human resources plan. But they had no plan to ensure their people performed well enough to execute any of these other plans. Execution had suffered in the past, but with a performance plan developed and implemented, things changed for the better.

Strategic Planning The strategic planning that I facilitated for Knight Alliance Ltd. had one major difference from the past: It was focused as much on implementation and execution as it was on the planning. And it was not a one-time event. The strategic plan was not a document that would sit in a binder on a shelf. Strategic planning is a process – its purpose is to determine a strategic direction for the business, and most importantly, a plan and process for implementing it. To achieve this purpose, working with the company’s strategic team, we developed a schedule of mini-planning sessions. In these sessions, the key players took ownership in the various milestones needed to reach the company’s goals. Most importantly, we built in the necessary steps to hold people accountable to the goals.

After the first meeting, Knight’s CEO commented, With Ross facilitating our discussion, we progressed through a thorough discussion of strategic issues and the result was a detailed plan with specific objectives for our team to accomplish over the next 90 days. Since our meeting, Ross has remained engaged to help me keep the team focused on executing the plan.”

Business Plan As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I’ve developed business plans to attract investment, to understand the viability of the business, to work out the bugs prior to opening the doors, and I’ve put them together for businesses that have been operating for many years. So, while there are many different objectives for a business plan, my experience tells me that most are either not well thought out, they’re biased, or they’re unrealistic. Having a consultant who can face the brutal facts head-on, and who can look at the business through detached eyes, can make the difference between success and failure.

Team-building Improving team performance is one of my favorite tasks, and as my experience with WorkGroup Inc. showed, an extremely valuable one at that. Each team is unique, and so should any team-building or team-development program. I began the team-building at WorkGroup by assessing the current situation, and then developed a customized program that gets to the key issues. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so is an organization. A team is like a chain, but it also has the added challenge of making sure each link is not just strong, but pulling in the same direction. I have a menu of team-building activities, each designed to dig to the core of a specific issue. By pulling the appropriate items from this menu I was able to design the perfect program for WorkGroup and improve the overall performance of the team.

Performance Surveys Being an objective and anonymous third-party, I’m often contracted to survey employees to drill down to the core of performance challenges in the workplace. I custom-design surveys to meet the objectives of companies like Aldarac Inc.. In this case, it was for one specific department and for one specific issue the executive team felt was there. But in other cases, I’ve conducted company-wide surveys, both in person and online. The key to each survey is taking the time to identify its real purpose and focus, and then designing the questions in a way that will get to the appropriate answers without biasing participants through the questioning process.

PRESENTATIONS

Performance Rules! A group of senior executives invited me to speak about performance. It seems they had heard many talks about leadership and strategy, but they recognized that in these economic times, everyone in their organization performing at their best was critical – not only to do well, but to survive. Fear of failure, pressure, focus, risk, tough decision-making… These were some of the challenges that they and their organizations were struggling with on a daily basis.

Performance, from the boardroom to the front lines of the organization, is what matters. Performance leads to results, so I spoke about the keys to managing these challenges in a productive way, and about how to maximize the performance of their people – about how to bring out the best performance in their people. The executives in my audience left the presentation with tangible tools that they could use to maximize their own performance, of those around them, and of their organization.

Driving Lessons I’ve spent much of my life focused on the art and science of driving race cars at the very highest levels. I’ve discovered that the lessons learned on the race track, and those we all learn every day behind the wheel of a car, can be applied to enhancing the performance of our business lives.

My audience for a recent talk had few racing enthusiasts, but who hasn’t driven a car? So, I used the lessons learned from driving to inspire and drive home messages about focus, commitment, teamwork, personal responsibility and communication in a way that everyone could relate to. By using racing as a metaphor and relating it the client’s business, I was able to entertain and communicate – and in a way that my audience would remember for a long time. As they were truly related to the client’s business, my messages motivated the audience

Coaching in the Workplace I was recently asked by the president of a division of a major aircraft manufacturer to speak at their management retreat about coaching in the workplace, as it was a key initiative for their management. Obviously, that was right up my alley, but I made sure to tailor it for them by using real-life examples and working in their own messages.

The president of the division commented, Ross was a fabulous presenter. Just seeing the positive results from such a diverse set of coaching experiences reinforced the value of effective coaching!”

TRAINING

Managing for Performance This is the most popular training program I offer. Typically, it’s a series of 1.5-hour sessions, held once per month at the client’s location; however, they can be adapted to suit your scheduling needs. The focus is very simple: Helping managers bring out the best performance in their employees. Managing people may just be the most challenging task anyone faces in business, and yet it’s usually left to the individual to figure out how best to do it.

The president of Thunder Sales said: “The Managing for Performance workshops have been a surprisingly effective program. I thought our management team was doing a good job, but I’ve seen a big improvement in how they are currently managing their direct reports. And I’ve learned a lot myself. In these tough times, it’s critical that every employee performs at their very best, and Ross’ program is helping make that happen here.”

Coaching for Managers Coaching has become a popular buzzword in today’s business world. Why? Because it’s critical that all members of an organization perform at a high level, and coaching can help make that happen. Without it, rarely can an organization be successful in achieving their goals. But simply talking about it does no good. An executive who contracted me said that coaching was a major initiative for all senior managers, but that they were struggling to use it. When I asked what training these managers had in coaching, he said, “None.” You can’t expect managers to coach their employees to great performance without some understanding of what coaching is, and how to use it. This workshop provided his managers with specific strategies and tools to help them bring out the best performance in their people and teams. The Coaching for Managers workshop helped those who bring out the best in others take that skill to an all-new level. For those who struggled in the past to help others perform well, the workshop provided everything they needed to become great people managers.

Personal Performance One sure way to improve your chances for moving up the corporate ladder, getting a raise, and protecting your job is to perform better than ever before. Participants in the Personal Performance workshop walk away with hands-on tactics that result in performing at an all-new level; an understanding of what impacts their performance, both positively and negatively, and how to manage it. They also leave with an awakened sense of responsibility about their personal performance. Typically hosted by human resource departments, the Personal Performance training program is for people they want to perform in the state that athletes refer to as “the zone” more often.