Posts Tagged ‘performance coaching’

Who Needs a Coach?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I recently posted a video of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt talking about the value of having a coach. But does everyone need a coach? Who can benefit from a coach?

Senior executives & business owners. They often don’t have anyone to talk to, to share thoughts and problems with. After all, when you’re at or near the top you’re expected to have all the answers, so asking for advice or even for someone to bounce ideas off of can be seen as a weakness. That’s one reason why a majority of senior level executives have coaches.

New managers. I’ve coached a lot of new managers – people who are new to managing people. It’s become a coaching sweet spot for me as I’ve been very successful in helping people become better people managers. The typical coachee is someone who has been very successful in a somewhat technical position (salesperson, mechanic, software developer) so they’ve been promoted to a management position (sales manager, shop foreman, development team manager). But as you know, doing something that relies on specific skills does not mean that you will automatically be a good people manager. Managing people takes different skills from selling, repairing cars, or writing code. Fortunately, I’ve never met a person yet who can’t improve dramatically and become good people managers.

“Problem” employees. Another area that I’ve personally been successful with as a coach is helping “turn around” an employee who was under-performing. The majority of the time these employees are either allowed to under-perform and cause problems in the workplace, or they’re fired. Both of these end up costing the company huge amounts of money. One HR industry rule that I’ve seen referred to says that replacing an under-performing or problem employee costs the company the equivalent of three times that employee’s annual salary. Wow! That’s why a relatively small investment in coaching pays big dividends.

Of course, there are others who can benefit from coaching, but those are the obvious and most typical people that I’ve witnessed (firsthand, often) having coaching make big improvements in their careers. What’s interesting is how often the improvements changed a flat or declining career path to one that was heading to where the person really wanted it – upward.

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Not All Executive Coaching is Created Equal

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Executive coaching has become very popular over the past decade or so, and that’s for one reason: it works. But not all executive or business coaching is the same, though. Generally, there are five different types of executive or business coaching:

  • Leadership/Behavioral coaching
  • Career coaching
  • Leadership development coaching
  • Organizational coaching
  • Strategic coaching

Leadership/behavioral coaching can be focused on either performance correction or performance enhancement – either reactive or proactive. Generally, its purpose is to improve or enhance the performance of an individual – typically a supervisor, manager or executive-level person – or a team. Most often there is some change of behavior desired, and the coach uses a variety of strategies to accomplish this.

Career coaching is aimed at individuals looking for, considering, or going through a change in position or career direction. Taking on a new role, the individual may require new skills or behaviors; if the individual has reached a plateau in one organization he or she may need to look towards other opportunities; learning how to manage one’s career – one’s political capital – as he or she moves up the corporate ladder. These are all areas a career coach can assist an individual to be more successful in their professional life.

Leadership development coaching is focused on creating an environment and system for the development of leaders within an organization. This may involve helping senior level managers and executives develop coaching skills themselves, while creating and implementing a program for training more junior people in preparation for them to take on more leadership roles in the organization.

Organizational coaching is less focused on individuals, and more on the overall organizational success. It typically involves facilitating a process whereby the leadership team determines the organizational structure, or a re-structuring of the organization.

Strategic coaching is focused on leading or facilitating a leader or executive team through the process of strategic planning. A coach, whose purpose it is to ensure a successful result, but with no personal biases, provides the outside perspective needed to facilitate the strategic planning process.

Each type of coaching has it’s own place, and it’s practically impossible for one coach to be the best in all areas. The best coaches specialize in a certain area, or have a “sweet spot” for one or more.

And while some people are reluctant to have a coach work with them – because of the perception that only someone with “a problem” would need a coach – the most successful supervisors, managers and executives not only have coaches, but are committed to ongoing improvement. They see continuous improvement and learning as a key to their personal success, and the success of their organization.

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Performance Coaching and The Variety of My Job

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

I love the variety that my coaching “job” allows me. Actually, anything this much fun couldn’t be work, so I can’t really call it a job.

Two weeks ago I was coaching firefighters in the Seattle area, enhancing their on-the-job performance. A component of this training was aimed at driving, but ultimately what I was doing was helping these fire- fighters improve their performance in all aspects of the job. My presentation and training provided them with a number of “tools” that they could use to trigger great performances. If any job could use these performance tools, it’s firefighting.

A few days later, I was conducting a workshop for a car club in Boston. Again, they initially thought the presentation was focused on driving, but everyone walked away saying things like, “Wow! This applies to a lot more than driving. In fact, it applies to just about everything in life.”

A day later, I was in North Carolina at a meeting with some people from one of the largest leadership development and coaching firms in the world. Amongst other things, we talked about ways to integrate motorsport coaching with business coaching, and how what I do can be used as a laboratory for research and development of new leadership training methods.

Later that week, I was in Los Angeles doing something that I’d never done before: coaching a drifter. No, not a homeless person, but a driver who competes in drifting competitions. In 2006, he was the world champion, and now wants to improve his mental game, especially handling the pressure that is put on him to perform. I had never seen a drifting event, nor did I know anything about the techniques and skills the drivers need (well, I do know a little more now). My lack of knowledge of the techniques and skills was not a problem – I wasn’t there to teach or instruct him. I was there to develop a mental training program that would enable him to perform at his peak. It turned out to be a very successful 2.5 days of coaching, and I look forward to an ongoing coaching relationship with him.

Speaking of ongoing coaching relationships, from L.A. I flew directly to Australia to work with a driver I’ve coached off and on for almost 6 years now. Again, here is a driver who has the basic knowledge, skills and techniques, but every now and then needs work on the mental aspects of racing. Specifically, I spent 3 days coaching him at one of the most beautiful race circuits in the world, on Phillip Island, near Melbourne. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this island, do it. And for sure, go see the penguin parade, where the fairy penguins come ashore each evening – it’s one of those amazing scenes put on by Mother Nature.

This week I’ll be phone coaching one of my regular coaching clients, and then I’m off to Washington, DC to conduct a program for teens on behalf of a major insurance company – on “Good Morning America.”

Firefighters, car club members, leadership development groups, drifters, race drivers, teens, insurance companies… they all have one thing in common: they want to improve their performance. And I’m the lucky person who gets to help them achieve their objectives… and learn from them all so I can help others even better… so I can help them achieve their objectives… and learn from all of them…and on it continues.

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