30 Aug

The difference between training and coaching

The other day a friend mentioned that his business had brought in a training company to conduct some personal development programs with their staff. He commented that he was a little bit disappointed due to the fact that the trainer didn’t conduct any follow up after the training was completed.

Firstly let me say that I love hearing that businesses are investing in their teams, especially on personal development and soft skills training. I wish more businesses would do this.

Secondly, my response to him was as follows: That’s the difference between training and coaching. Quite simple.

So many businesses will do one or the other, but very seldom both. To get maximum return on your training investment, both disciplines, training and coaching need to be taking place within your business.

Training is all about teaching or introducing new concepts or skills. It doesn’t or very seldom alters the training delegate’s behaviour. They learn something new which can tweak their curiosity, but then the training ends and they go home. Perhaps there may be some altered behaviour change for a week or so after the training has taken place, but on the whole, most people will go back to their old habits.

To counteract this and to really get bang for buck I would highly recommend that coaching is introduced straight after every training initiative. Coaching is the safety net or the catalyst for change. The new skills are taught in training and the coaching is there to help reinforce these new skills after the training has taken place.

Naturally human beings find it very difficult to change a habit or implement a newly learnt skill straight away. It is even harder when that change is completed in isolation or not supported. We need help to stay on track and keep focused. This is the role of the coach.

A coach is there to help you define your habit change and then to support you through the change process.

To really set your team up for success, by all means give them the opportunity to attend training sessions, but then make coaching available to them afterwards.

Let them reinforce their newly learnt skills over time so they can then add the right value back into your business.

16 Aug

Coaching is not a swear word!

“I would like you to coach some of my team members, but I don’t want anyone to know”.  Wow, was my first reaction when I heard this from a manager last week. Besides my initial  surprise this request also made me feel sad.

I liken this kind of request to Richie McCaw doing an under the table deal with his head coach for coaching received or Usain Bolt carrying out undercover sprint coaching in the dead of night, so no one would know. Should I add a dark cloak, dark glasses and large brimmed hats to my business attire?

What is wrong with openly acknowledging the fact that you or your team members need help to improve?

I look at many of my clients and I see bright, intelligent and driven human beings who  want more out of their lives, jobs or businesses. They are prepared to look at their challenges and creatively think of ways to overcome the hurdles in their lives. It takes a special kind of person to do this inner reflection and coaching should therefore be celebrated, not hidden away as if it were a dirty secret.

Unfortunately this attitude is entrenched into the culture of many  businesses. There is an underlying expectation that every employee needs to be a specialist in all disciplines and heaven help you if you ask for help.

I am sure there are many reasons for this mindset, but I can honestly say it’s not helping anyone. By ignoring the need for coaching it causes frustration for both the team member and the business. Instead of employees growing within a business through coaching and training, they get frustrated and leave.

Think about your own team or colleagues. What would coaching do for them or what could it do for you? If coaching was part of your company culture, how would your business benefit?



31 May

Can you coach your subordinates?

Quite simple, the answer is no you cannot coach your subordinates. Why, you may ask?

A coaching relationship is seen as an equal partnership between two people and unfortunately whichever way you dress it up, you and your subordinates within the business environment are not equal parties. You are their boss.

It is therefore recommended that you take on a mentorship role, which is the type of relationship which works extremely well in this type of situation as the mentor’s job is to impart their knowledge, experience and learnings onto a less experienced mentee. The relationship is equal in respect, but not in status.

If however you want your team members to engage in a positive and impactful coaching experience then you must accept that you are not the right person for the job and that a colleague from another department or an external coach should be earmarked for the job.

You may have the most genuine of intentions to enter the coaching relationship completely open, unbiased and non-judgemental. You may even verbalise this genuine intent to your subordinates. However, a positive, trusting coaching relationship starts with the coachee feeling completely free to talk about their own experiences, feelings and goals and unfortunately doing this with their boss is not a winning formula. In their eyes, you are not an equal or an unbiased objective voice. They see you as the boss, the person who completes their performance appraisal. The person who they seek advice and guidance from during challenging times. You may merge some coaching techniques into your management style, which is extremely commendable, but it doesn’t make for a coaching relationship.

You may disagree, so for arguments sake let’s turn this scenario around and answer these questions.
1) How comfortable would you feel if you were being coached by your boss?
2) How truthful would you be about how you felt if you were coached by your boss?
3) How would you feel about your relationship with your boss outside of the coaching relationship? Would you be able to draw a clear line between boss and coach?
4) How truthful would you be in the coaching session, if your boss was your coach?

Remember, coaching is not about what you or the business wants for the coachee or what you think is best for the coachee. It’s about them and what they want. Doing what’s best for them, may just include the option of bringing in an external coach.

26 May

What makes a good coach?

Recently I was asked “What makes a good coach?”

There are literally a hundred different answers to this question. There is also no exact right or wrong answer, as it depends purely on who is asking and what they are actually looking for in a coach at a particular time.

Different characteristics will mean different things to different people. Certain personality traits may be higher on your list of importance when it comes to selecting a coach than on someone else’s list. However the one trait that I believe everyone should see as key to what makes a good coach, and that should be on the top of everyone’s list when in the coach selection process, is trust and the coach’s ability to instil trust into the coaching relationship. Here is why I say that:

  1. Trust is first and foremost the most important component of any part of the coaching relationship. The coaching partnership is built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect.  Without trust, there will be no true relationship and the coaching results would most probably be poor.
  2. As a client you are trusting someone to keep your coaching sessions private and confidential.
  3. As a client you are trusting that the coach has got your best interest at heart. There shouldn’t be any hidden agendas or commission kick-backs down the line.
  4. You are trusting that the coach is holding a non-judgemental safe space for you to work through your goals. You need to feel comfortable in your coaching sessions with no fear of being judged.

So the next time you are investigating the services of a coach, don’t just think about what personality traits would work well for you. Ask yourself two vital questions. “How will this coach instil trust into this potential partnership?” and  “Can I trust them?”

Need professional coaching assistance? Contact Nicole nicole@tikumu.co.nz

12 May

What is the ROI for coaching?

An interesting question came up the other day. “By investing in coaching for your team members, how do you measure your return on investment? “ 

This is a really good question and it depends on the expectations of the person asking the question. If your business is looking for a quick result or wanting to get profits up with very little work, then implementing  a coaching programme within your business will not be the answer.

Coaching is not a quick fix and a coaching programme should never be started in a business if there is an expectation of a speedy outcome similar to that of a quickie month-end promo to boost sales.  If this is the case, then the coaching programme will fail as it has been implemented for the wrong reason. Coaching initiatives need to be given time, especially if it involves all team members within the business.

With a quick-turn-around-sales-boosting expectation in mind, some companies choose  not to implement coaching, as they say it doesn’t work. Sad and short-sighted.

So coming back to the original question. “By investing in  coaching for your team members, how do you measure your return on investment? “ 

The best way to answer this question is to provide you with some feedback from business owners and managers who have actually invested in their teams and therefore their business by implementing a coaching programme.

  1. Employee retention – Happy, focused and motivated employees don’t look for alternative employment. Engaged employees who understand what their role is and who understand that they are valued are focused on their tasks and looking for ways to move up within your business, not ways to move out of the business. These are loyal and driven individuals who you want on your team.

    If you want to talk costs, then think about this – If you are constantly employing, training and inducting new people into your business, it is costing you precious time and recruitment costs. Depending on the job, a new person can take up to 9 months to become 100% productive in their new position. I won’t get started on the negative impact it has on business morale when there is constant change of team dynamics going on, that’s for another blog post.

  2. Decrease in customer complaints – Happy, focused and motivated employees understand it is in their best interest to look after the customer. They understand  consequences to their actions. As complaints go down, we see compliments go up.
  3. Business image – You just need to look at the top companies to work for in the world. The best employees aspire to work for these companies and customers are attracted to do business with them due to the work ethic and energy of these businesses. These companies are also rated as the best companies to work for by their employees as they invest in the teams.

The net result of the above is that there is actually a financial benefit to coaching. With these solid foundations in place your bottom line will look after itself. Now that’s a great return on investment!

20 Oct

5 ways to improve mental health in the workplace

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Leadership seminar and one of the speakers was Jimi Hunt. Besides being responsible for constructing the worlds biggest water slide, sailing a lilo down the Waikato and simply enjoying doing random stuff, he is also an advocate of increasing mental health awareness.

What does mental health mean, why did it get my attention and why would it have such relevance within the business world? According to the World Health Organisation,  “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Looking at the world today, it is obsessed with physical health and wellness. Being fit, looking good and eating well. People have become far more open with admitting they are “unfit” or “eat badly” and on the receiving side people are more forgiving if they hear someone admit their unhealthy physical lifestyle status. This type of compassion and understanding displayed for physical health issues is not at the same level as that exhibited for mental health issues. Therefore, people don’t readily admit they are battling mentally, for fear of being told they are lazy, that they can’t handle the pressure or being alienated by their colleagues.  Therefore most people will rather remain silent, resign, become a disrupter or a disengaged employee, rather than admit to having mental health issues.

So think about your own mental health and then take a look at the people around you. How open and honest are you or the people that you work with about your own personal mental health and wellness?

What do your employee turnover figures and absenteeism statistics look like?

When your team members are at work how productive are they? Are they reaching their weekly and monthly targets and goals or do you have a case of presenteeism in your business? Your team are physically there, but not mentally focused and productive. Like a team of rowers without any oars. Completely useless.

To help with improving your team’s mental health, think about implementing the following into your business:

  1. One-on-one coaching initiatives
    • This allows for specific, measurable, realistic and attainable goals to be set and delivered at an agreed upon deadline.
    • The team member is then in control of their own goals and work flow
    • coaching provides a non-judgemental space for the team member to share their concerns and to then create and work through an action plan to improve their situation. By just allowing the team members to have a place to share, bounce off ideas and to “think” out loud will greatly assist in improving their mental health and well being.
  2. Creating  an “it’s okay to take a break” culture. Encourage your team to take their lunch breaks away from their work, to engage in mindfulness practises or any other relaxing and energy rejuvenating activity.
  3. Can you business allow for flexitime? In todays world this type of arrangement would positively assist the drive for attaining work/life balance.
  4. Improve communication within the workplace. Work off one strategic plan, one set of goals and one set of values. If everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet it dramatically lowers confusion amongst your team members, eliminates mixed messages and lowers frustration and anxiety levels.
  5. Understand that you have human beings in your business. They are not robots. Your team members have dreams, aspirations and feelings. Get to know them, learn to listen to them. Show your appreciation towards them and aim to build a strong corporate culture where mental health awareness is as important as the company athletics day.

Want to engage an external coach to work with your team. Contact me nicole@tikumu.co.nz for assistance.

22 Sep

Is there a bully in your business?

If you think back to your school days, was there a class bully who ganged up against the little guy and stole his lunch money? Or can you think of a bullying incident that took place in your office? Most of us have been bullied at some point, or know of someone who has been bullied. Bullying is rife in our communities and its not just something that goes on in school playgrounds, it takes place in our working environments on a daily basis. According to the latest survey completed by Statistics New Zealand for Survey of Working life, 10 percent of employees have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work in the previous 12 months.
The difference or the problem between the school yard bullies and the office bullies is that the school bully uses more physical intimidation tactics to get his way. Whereas the office bully uses a more subtle approach. They use their position, their influence and their power to intimidate their peers, colleagues and subordinates. According to Work Safe New Zealand, bullying behaviour in the workplace can range from direct bullying such as belittling remarks, ignoring co-workers, physical attacks and then the more underhanded indirect bullying, which is setting unrealistic goals, lack of credit and constant criticism.
What I find scary is that this type of bullying behaviour, is so often passed off as the person being “strong-willed” or that they “just have” an autocratic leadership or management style, and everyone else is expected to work around it or accept it. This might be possible, but they might also just be a big bully.
What is of particular concern though, is that many bullies don’t even realise that they are behaving in this unacceptable manner. To them, it is how it has always been and sadly, in many cases they were managed in this style by a previous manager, so they picked up on the behaviour and naturally repeat it.
As a business owner or manager you are probably thinking about your own office environment at the moment. Running through your team members and thinking about their behaviour styles. If you aren’t doing that then I suggest you do.
While you are re-evaluating their management styles ask yourself the following:
1) If I had to run a peer or staff evaluation survey within the office, what would the result show about the individual team members?
2) What are the employee turnover figures for the business? Is the business losing too many staff members?
3) Why are employees leaving the business, what do the exit interviews say and in some cases not saying?
4) As a business owner or manager, how often do I observe how the team members engage with each other?
5) What is the corporate culture like within the business?
Be curious.
Work Safe have compiled an excellent set of best practise guidelines, which can be utilised in the workplace to assist with combating bullying. Together with coaching and a strong drive to eradicate this behaviour, these guidelines could make a huge difference in your business.
Need some assistance? Contact me nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.
11 Aug

It Doesn’t End at Recruitment

Businesses spend a huge amount of time, energy and money on recruiting the right people. There is either a specific person or even department assigned to this function, or for some the recruitment task is outsourced. Either way, a lot of resources are dedicated to finding the perfect people.

Hidden Recruitment Costs

The costs don’t end there. Once the person has been hired there is training time needed to get the new hire up to speed, and they are never 100% productive from the outset. It takes months for the person to reach their full potential. In the mean time there is pressure placed on the existing team to carry this person whilst they learn the ropes. These hidden costs are rarely quantified in dollar terms, but they are still costs which need to recognised.

State of the Art Recruitment Processes

I’ve seen the rigorous selection processes which some businesses utilise when recruiting new talent. Candidates are expected to jump through hoops in order to make it through the first, second, third, fourth and in certain situations final panel interviews.

My question is, do you spend as much time and are you as attentive with these new hires once they have been brought into the fold as you are when following the recruitment process?

People can be wooed with talk of a bigger pay check, a romantic story of a dynamic corporate culture and awesome benefits, but after the honeymoon period has worn off, what is making them stay?

 It Doesn’t End at Recruitment

To receive a good return on your investment, you must acknowledge that the work doesn’t end once you’ve recruited the new employee. If anything, you should be spending more time and energy thinking up ingenious ways of how to retain your talent.

Questions to Think About
  1. What does your employee development plan, retention plan or employee engagement plan look like?
  2. If the business has one, how active is it?
  3. What makes your business unique and why should people want to be working for your business as opposed to the competition?
  4. Is your business as invested in these types of initiatives as they are with recruiting the next employee?
  5. How often are the managers engaging with new hires?
  6. Do you believe your new recruits and existing team members feel supported in their current positions?
  7. Do you believe your team members feel as though they can develop within your business?

As a business owner or manager, your job only really begins once the right people have been hired for the job. Dusting off your hands and walking away after they walk through the front door on their first day is a sure sign that they won’t be staying long.

Need some assistance? Contact me. nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.

22 Jul

When does change happen?

“So when does the change happen?” – A question I get asked a lot. And its often asked in the same manner as someone would ask “When will we be eating dinner?” It seems many people assume that with coaching there is an immediate change, in the same way there is an instant change from being hungry to being full after meal time.

The results of coaching are not instant and it does take a fair bit of time before the desired results can be seen.

When you start off with the coaching process, first you are invited to explore  alternative options and views, which you probably wouldn’t have looked at or even considered before. Deep down inside however, there may still be a desire to stick with the status quo. You may logically know that the change is best, but you are still hesitant to committing to the new way. Rightly so, new is unknown, untrialled and potentially risky. Old habits do definitely die hard and it takes courage to move outside of your comfort zone and make the choice to alter your current situation for the better.

So when does the change happen? Change starts to happen when you stop just saying you are going to change, and you actually do it. When you stop observing the alternatives from a safe distance. When you choose to include those alternative views and habits into your life. When the “new way of doing things” becomes the norm. When you stop looking at the change with fear.

So how do you get to this stage of being comfortable with your change decision and actually doing it?

This is a tricky question and is different for every person. Some arrive at change faster than  others. The following questions may assist or prompt you to act.

  1. What is your biggest motivator for this change? Is your motivator intrinsic or extrinsic?
  2. If you didn’t make the change and everything remained as is, how would it affect your life?
  3. How often do you put off thinking about the possibility of change?
  4. Have you set yourself a deadline?
  5. Who is supporting you with your decision?
  6. What resources do you have to assist you in facilitating this change?

And lastly, what does your gut tell you?

Need some assistance? Contact me. nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.

15 Jun

Something to consider when promoting your team members

For most employees, a promotion would be seen as a fantastic achievement and opportunity.

However for some, the thought of been promoted is equivalent to their worst nightmare coming true. And often it’s not the extra work responsibilities, the potential longer hours or having to report to a different manager that freaks these people out. It’s the fact that with promotion comes the real possibility of having to manage someone or a team.

As a business manager or owner, do you take these thoughts into consideration? That this newly promoted person may need to manage another person or a team? On average there tends to be more of a focus on the measurable more tangible outcomes and targets of the job, the key performance areas, as opposed to the fact that this newly promoted  employee may be the next office ogre.  How often is the question asked, “Does this person (soon to be promoted) know how to manage people?” Actually, I should rather say “successfully” manage people.

It’s not about giving instructions, chairing a meeting or ticking off an annual performance appraisal, its about that new promotee being able to manage another person or team in such a way that they perform to their optimum with a smile on the faces.

People can be brilliant at their jobs, they can tick all the boxes, but it doesn’t mean they are ready to be promoted and run a team of people or even manage one person. Before they make the move it is vitally important to assess their management skills and then provide them with the correct mentoring, training and coaching in order to pursue their new position successfully. Set them up for success, not failure.