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?

 

 

30 Nov

Benefits of networking

I was at a networking dinner the other evening and seated next to me was a young lady fresh out of university. Half way through the evening she asked me a really interesting question. “What are the benefits of networking?”

My abbreviated answer to her was, “to connect with people”. She replied by saying that we could do that via social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and other digital platforms. We didn’t need to waste our time attending functions and physically meeting people, we could very easily connect with people online in the comfort of our own homes (and probably in our pyjamas I thought).

She was partially right and also very wrong for many reasons I believe. These days we are so connected with people around us, but yet we are so very disconnected. People will boldly state that they have over a thousand contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, but what does that actually mean?

I may be old fashioned, but I believe that face-to-face networking cannot be replaced with online platforms. They should be used in conjunction with face-to-face networking, but never be a replacement. Have we gotten lazy with all of these alternatives?

So what are the benefits of networking? Actually let’s change that and ask, “What are the benefits of good networking?’

Networking in a face-to-face environment makes you focus on a number of key areas, which in turn benefit your business.

  1. Your mindset – Networking is not about you and how many business cards you can hand out or receive. It’s not about what other people can do for you, but what you can do for others. Going in with a “taker” mindset will set you up for failure right from the beginning, I can promise you that. Try to go in with a “giving” mindset. “How can I help these people?”How does that benefit your business? People like to work with people who care about others. Clients like to know that it’s about them and not about you.
  2. Your presentation – How you dress and present yourself to the crowd will determine how well you are accepted by the other party. Whether you like it or not, people will start developing an impression of you the minute they see you, even before you open your mouth. Make sure your dress code and non-verbal cues are showcasing the right message about you.How does that benefit your business? Creating good first impressions will start to build trust and eventually loyalty with your potential clients. Remember you are constantly on stage and how you present yourself will either attract new business or have them turn away.
  3. Your pitch – What’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth when introducing yourself and your business? If you cannot describe your business or the benefits of your business, you lose their attention.How does that benefit your business? Understanding your own business and confidently talking about the benefits, shows your potential client that you are confident, capable and genuinely passionate about what you do. That can be difficult to authentically showcase online.
  4. Your weaknesses – Attending a networking event can be extremely nerve-racking and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know anyone. Networking pushes you completely outside of your comfort zone into a a world of unknowns. There is no place to hide when attending a networking event, unless you spend the entire time in the loo. There is no screen to hide behind or virtual world to pretend in. Face-to-face networking builds your confidence and can set you apart from your competition if done correctly.How does that benefit your business? Finding ways to grow and develop your own skills and competencies will only benefit your business. The more you stretch yourself the better you become and the stronger your business becomes.
  5. The follow up – Networking doesn’t end when you leave the event. It has only just begun. What is your follow up strategy after the event? How will you re-inforce that first impression?How does that benefit your business? You start to build your own network of people who you admire, trust and support.

Nothing beats the good old fashioned face-to-face contact. If you want to grow your business and to create an everlasting impression, move away from behind the screen for a few hours and go and enjoy a cup of tea and some canapés with some other human beings. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier.

18 Aug

Choices

There was once an alcoholic man who had two sons. When the sons grew up, one become an alcoholic just like his father and the other became a teetotaller. When the sons were asked why they had chosen those specific paths they both answered. “You know my father was an alcoholic, isn’t my life path choice obvious?” 

I love this story, as it shows how we all interpret life so differently.

These two sons show me that life can be one of two things to us:

Firstly, we can have the mindset that life has already been mapped out for us, and we have to graciously accept the lot we are given, like the alcoholic son. His father was an alcoholic, so it meant he would be one as well.

Or, secondly we can chose to see life as a blank canvas, and what we make of it will define our success and happiness, whatever that means to us.

In life we have choices. No-one controls you, no-one tells you how to live your life, run your business or raise your children. There are lots of experts out there with great advice, but when all is said and done and the experts have gotten back into their boxes to preach another day, you stand alone with a decision to make.

You choose what’s best for you. Just you and no one else. How do you choose?

06 Oct

Good Conflict vs. Bad Conflict

I once worked with someone that enjoyed conflict. He enjoyed vigorous discussion and debate and got genuinely energised from conflict situations. He always said that it was boring for everyone to agree on business issues all of the time. He would say that it “dampened his creative juices”. Thinking back now I’m glad he enjoyed conflict, as we used to bump heads quite often.
You may be thinking “who in their right mind would actively seek out conflict?“ Most people try and avoid conflict like the plague and their aim is to keep the peace at all costs. What set him apart from those conflict-avoiders and probably his greatest strength in a conflict situation, was his mindset.
He was never too precious about his own opinions to the extent that he held onto them at all costs, causing him to be blinded to alternative views. He never placed his own views above other people’s. What he did place first, was the business and what was best for the business.
The minute your views become more important than the business, when you become caught up in your own opinion, is the minute you lose your impartiality.
Having the right mindset towards conflict changes the business stage. You become more welcoming towards listening to alternative viewpoints and new ideas. Your business doesn’t become over-shadowed by your ego. You don’t have to try and justify yourself all the time to save face.
Recalling some of the conflict situations with my ex-colleague, the one thing that stood out for me was how I felt after a discussion with him. I never felt annoyed or angry. I felt heard. I felt like I wasn’t just being humoured or ignored. I felt I had added value.
Yes, there is such a thing as good conflict. Take a leaf out of my ex-colleague’s book. Make your business and it’s goals the most important entity in the room and put your ego second. Be bold enough to accept somebody else’s ideas as better than yours and celebrate that the only thing that comes from good conflict is stronger, better and more successful businesses.
 Need some assistance? Contact me nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.