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?

 

 

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!

13 Apr

Let’s get back to business basics

To stand out and be seen in today’s business world, sometimes we can feel pressured to spend a lot of time, money and energy on marketing, brand awareness and trying to shout louder than all our competitors. We focus a lot of time on trying to paint a picture of being bigger or better than everyone else.  Don’t get me wrong, marketing and brand awareness initiatives are very beneficial and obviously a very important component of any business. However, it is not the only component of a business. Unfortunately, too many businesses fall into this trap and lose sight of this. They lose sight of the basics. When last did you look at the foundations of your business?
So what are the basics or the foundations of a business? Besides confirming what your business stands for, it’s purpose, mission and values, a huge component of your business’s foundations would be it’s people. This is not just the team in your business, but it includes you the business owner/operator as well.
 When last did you buy into a fabulous offer to be terribly disappointed at the end result? This all comes down to the team and business owner of that specific business. They are the ones who need to ensure that the business is delivering on the promises, which have been made in the latest marketing campaign. Sadly, there are too many occasions where there is a gap between the promises businesses make and the outcomes that the customers receive.
So here are a few questions you can ask yourself before you spend hundreds of man-hours promoting your business.
1) Are you and your team trained correctly? This might be a simple question, but actually if you had to answer honestly, would you be ticking off all the boxes and deeming all players 100% competent?
If the answer is no then what would be required to get your team or yourself up to speed? Have you built that timeline into your marketing strategy?
2) Are you and your team aware of the importance of customer service? Does excellent customer service feature as one of your core business values? If everyone is aware of good customer service, are you seeing evidence of this taking place in your business?
It’s all good to have the knowledge, but is there evidence of good service practises, and are they part of the business culture?
3) Lastly and probably the most important question of all. Are you and your team motivated enough to continuously deliver on the business promise? People can be 100% competent to carry out the job, but do they have the will and motivation?
Be the business who sets itself up for success. Be the business who under-promises and over-delivers. If you really want to stand out and be seen above the crowd, invest the time and energy into building the basics. Build a strong team that can deliver. That is how you get noticed, that is what makes you different.
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.

31 Mar

Even coaches need coaches

I like to consider myself a runner. Not a very good runner, I am a realist, but a person who enjoys the freedom of being able to go for a run. I started off with a simple objective, I wanted to get fit and comfortably run a few trail runs. After two years of running I found myself no longer progressing, so I decided to get a running coach. I now attend a running clinic once a week.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as a professional coach myself, this role reversal from coach to client was a huge confirmation and reiteration for me, that good coaches are actually damn awesome and can add so much value to your life (personal or business). Everyone needs a coach!

Over the past couple of weeks Dillon, my running coach, has re-inforced a few coaching lessons I would like to share with you. Even though he and I work in different coaching worlds, the following principles would fit into any coaching practise.

1. Show up and be focused

Well done, you joined a coaching group or you signed up for one-on-one coaching. That’s just the first step and unfortunately change or improvement doesn’t just happen via osmosis. You need to show up to the sessions with focus and determination to change your unwanted behaviours. What you put in, is what you get out.

2. The coach cannot do it for you

The only person who can make the necessary changes is you. The coach can help you clarify goals, opportunities, ideas and perspectives which you may not have had before, but the only person who can actually implement the change is you. You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” 

3. Practice, practice, practice

The biggest change takes place between the coaching sessions, not during. Outside of the sessions you get an opportunity to mull over or process what you have learnt. To slowly start implementing certain changes and becoming comfortable with new concepts and ideas which you have discussed in your coaching session. If you are not putting thought into your change or actioning change between sessions, you will become frustrated and disillusioned.

4. If you think it’s going to change over night, you are mistaken

I’ve spoken about the dangers of instant gratification before, and I don’t believe I can over-emphasis the damage it can do. Change doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, patience, practice and determination in order to move forward, permanently. Get comfortable with that realisation.

5. Training your brain

This goes hand in hand with practice. By focusing on the new behaviours and mindfully putting them into practice you start training your brain to think and act differently. In the beginning you need to concentrate and put in a lot of energy to change your actions, but after consistently putting in the efforts, your actions will become automatic and new habits will emerge naturally.

6. Be ready for change

As a coach, this principle is probably the most important. By being ready, it means you have acknowledged that something needs to shift. You are not perfect and something needs to be improved and that’s okay. Once you let go of that “I don’t need to change, I am perfect just the way I am” or “ It’s not me, it’s them” mantra it becomes easier to open yourself up to different thoughts, suggestions, ideas and feedback.

So if you want to lift your game and become a more focused and motivated individual in either your business or personal life, try working with a coach, they could change your life!