If Your Boss Tells You to Get a Coach, Don’t Panic

coaching

 

How does it feel when you’re told that you need a coach, whether it’s your boss or someone else? For many managers it feels like a kick in the gut, a clear sign that you’re doing something wrong and your job might be in trouble. For others, who might be resistant to coaching in general, it raises questions about whether you really need the extra help.

Having worked with dozens of managers who’ve been in this situation, these reactions are completely natural, especially if the request to work with a coach comes as a surprise. In either case, before you get started with the coaching, you need to work through these feelings so that you can have a positive experience. Here’s how:

The first step is to recognize coaching for what it is: a fantastic opportunity for growth, development, self-insight, and career progression – and an endorsement that the company is willing to invest in you. After all, there are a number of reasons why your boss might want you to be coached, and some are quite positive. Your manager might think you have a great deal of potential and a coach would help you develop it. Your boss might also suggest coaching to fix a particular skill deficit. One of my clients, for example, was asked to work with a coach specifically to focus on presentation skills. Her senior manager planned to give her more exposure to the Board but wanted to make sure she had the confidence and capability to hold her own in that setting.

There are of course situations where coaching is given to a manager because of a performance issue – an inability to deliver certain results, poor project execution, or not getting along with other members of the team. But even in these cases, coaching is an investment, not a punishment. The boss isn’t giving up on you.

The second step is to understand the nature of your resistance or hesitation. Are you opposed to being coached because you’re not sure what you should focus on? Or because you don’t really understand what’s involved in the process? If these are your concerns, take control of the coaching process. Interview the potential coach (if it’s not going to be your boss) and make sure that there’s good chemistry between you two; if not, find someone else. Set clear goals with the coach about what you want to accomplish and how she can be helpful. Engage your boss in regular progress reviews so you get feedback about how you’re doing, and establish a time frame for the coaching (and the achievement of progress) so that it’s not an open-ended relationship. In other words, take the ownership away from your boss and make the coaching experience something that belongs to you. You can also talk to colleagues and friends who have worked with a coach and get a sense of their experience.

But if you still don’t think working with a coach is necessary, make a list of reasons why. For example, does your resistance actually stem from an underlying anxiety about what coaching will reveal? A common concern is that the process might uncover issues that people don’t know how to deal with or threaten their self-image. Or maybe these are the reasons running through your mind: “I don’t have time for coaching.” “I’ve been successful so far — why fix something that isn’t broken.” “Coaching often doesn’t work, I’d rather try another approach to development.” “What I really need is better feedback and guidance from my manager.”

Each of these might be a legitimate reason for not wanting to work with a coach. But before you try and make your case, ask your boss why she recommended coaching in the first place. If there are skills she wants you to work on, ask if she would be open to you pursuing a different development approach. For example, you could take a course, or tackle a stretch assignment, or pick up some new responsibilities. If time is an issue, negotiate a development schedule that works for you – or suggest a better time of the year to do the coaching, based on the rhythms of your workplace.

In the end, if your boss still thinks coaching is the best option for you, put aside your resistance and make the most of it. Use it as an opportunity to get more feedback from your boss, and from your subordinates and colleagues as well. Everyone has something to learn, no matter how successful they’ve been in the past and how much potential they have for the future. That’s not to say that coaching is the magic key to success for every manager, but it’s a tool that may be useful and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. The bottom line is to remember that coaching is an investment – and the more you put into it, the greater the chance that you (and your company) will get a positive return.

-Harvard Business Review

 

THIS YEAR, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers

This year, the “Millennial” generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Generation PopulationBoom generation as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the population projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month. Millennials (whom we define as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015) are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers (ages 51 to 69). The Gen X population (ages 35 to 50 in 2015) is projected to outnumber the Boomers by 2028.

The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks. Boomers – a generation defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II — are older and shrinking in size as the number of deaths exceed the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.

FT_generations-definedGenerations are analytical constructs and it takes time for popular and expert consensus to develop as to the precise boundaries demarcating one generation from another. The Pew Research Center has established that the oldest “Millennial” was born in 1981. The Center continues to assess demographic, attitudinal and other evidence on habits and culture that will help to establish when the youngest “Millennial” was born or even when a new generation begins. To distill the implications of the census numbers for generational heft, this analysis assumes that the youngest “Millennial” was born in 1997.

Here’s a look at some generational projections:

Millennials

  • The Census Bureau projects that the Millennial population was 74.8 million in 2014. By 2015 Millennials will increase in size to 75.3 million and become the biggest group.
  • With immigration adding more numbers to its group than any other, the Millennial population is projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million. Thereafter the oldest Millennial will be at least 56 years of age and mortality is projected to outweigh net immigration. By 2050 there will be a projected 79.2 million Millennials.

size of each generation Millennial Baby Boomer Gen XGeneration X

  • For a few more years, Gen Xers are projected to remain the “middle child” of generations – caught between two larger generations of the Millennials and the Boomers. They are smaller than Millennials because the generational span of Gen X (16 years) is shorter than the Millennials (17 years). Also, the Gen Xers were born during a period when Americans were having fewer children than later decades. When Gen Xers were born, births averaged around 3.4 million per year, compared with the 3.9 million annual rate during the 1980s and 1990s when Millennials were born.
  • Though the oldest Gen Xer is now 50, the Gen X population will still grow for a few more years. The Gen X population is projected to outnumber the Boomers in 2028 when there will be 64.6 million Gen Xers and 63.7 million Boomers. The Census Bureau projects that the Gen X population will peak at 65.8 million in 2018.

Baby Boomers

  • Baby Boomers have always had an outsized presence compared with other generations. They were the largest generation and peaked at 78.8 million in 1999.
  • There were a projected 75.4 million Boomers in 2014. By mid-century, the Boomer population will dwindle to 16.6 million.

– Richard Fry is a senior researcher focusing on economics and education at Pew Research Center.

Food For Thought

The Jenks Group, Inc

“Your difficulty is not contained, primarily, in the situation
which gave rise to it, but in the mental state with which you
regard that situation and which you bring to bear upon it.”  –  Byways of Blessedness. By James Allen. The James Allen Free Library

food for thought

It is one of the hardest lessons to accept, understand and learn.  Circumstances are not negative or positive, circumstances are neutral.  It is our thinking, our mental state, our perspective, that makes a circumstance positive or negative.

Bob Proctor does some of the best teaching on this subject, using a universal law he refers to as the Law of Polarity.

“Everything in the universe has its opposite.  There would be no inside to a room without an outside.  You have a right and left side to your body, a front and a back.  Every up has a down and every down has an up.  The Law of Polarity not only states…

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Food For Thought

“Your difficulty is not contained, primarily, in the situation
which gave rise to it, but in the mental state with which you
regard that situation and which you bring to bear upon it.”  –  Byways of Blessedness. By James Allen. The James Allen Free Library

food for thought

It is one of the hardest lessons to accept, understand and learn.  Circumstances are not negative or positive, circumstances are neutral.  It is our thinking, our mental state, our perspective, that makes a circumstance positive or negative.

Bob Proctor does some of the best teaching on this subject, using a universal law he refers to as the Law of Polarity.

“Everything in the universe has its opposite.  There would be no inside to a room without an outside.  You have a right and left side to your body, a front and a back.  Every up has a down and every down has an up.  The Law of Polarity not only states that everything has an opposite — it is equal and opposite.  If it
was three feet from the floor up to the table, it would be three feet from the table down to the floor.  If it is 150 miles from Manchester to London, by law it must be 150 miles from London to Manchester; it could not be any other way.

Bad attitude
“If something you considered bad happens in your life, there has to be something good about it.  If it was only a little bad, when you mentally work your way around to the other side, you will find it will only be a little good.”

So every circumstance can be viewed two ways.  It’s the way we view a circumstance that determines its impact on our thinking and mental state.  And we know from James Allen’s teaching that that determines the quality of life that we live.

No matter how bad the circumstance appears to be, taking another look, from another perspective, reveals to us the good.  Or as Napoleon Hill, author of the classic “Think and Grow Rich,”  wrote, “Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”

And that’s worth thinking about…….Your thoughts?

Improve Your Presentations in 60 Seconds or Less

Presentation-Public-Speaking-Performance

Most of us aren’t naturally gifted public speakers. In fact, many avoid speaking in front of groups whenever they can. However, this fear of presenting can have adverse effects over the course of your career.

David Blum*, a communication skills trainer at Well-Spoken Joe, explains that people who are uncomfortable with public speaking are at a disadvantage in the workplace.

“It does very little good to be a ‘technical expert’ or marketing master’ if you cannot effectively communicate your ideas to an audience,” says Blum.  Skilled presenters are usually the ones who get the job offer, who get the plum project, and who get the promotion. In fact, one study found that people who present at work earn $9,000 per year more than their counterparts who don’t present.

Blum suggests making five small changes that will greatly improve your public speaking skills

Show your passion

Like any good story, a presentation is only as interesting as the person who is presenting it. Even if you’re just giving your weekly status report, find something to speak about that’s meaningful to you. Your audience will only be as engaged in a topic as you are. If you’re bored they’ll be bored too, says Blum. Let them see your energy and passion! Having trouble getting your energy levels up? Check out Tony Robbins’ pre-speaking ritual which includes incantations, affirmations, and a ton of energized movement.

Fake it till you make it

Whether you’re negotiating your salary or presenting to an audience, experts agree that confidence is essential to communicating persuasively.

“Speak confidently, loudly, and clearly. Let your audience see and hear that you believe what you’re saying,” says Blum. Public speaking, like any other valuable skill, requires practice. The more you present, the more confident you’ll become.

Take a deep breath… and slow down

The average person speaks 125 words per minute. If you find yourself racing through your presentation at a much faster pace, pause, take a breath, and slow down. When you speak too quickly, the audience will assume you’re nervous and won’t receive your message. Speaking more slowly will also help you establish credibility with the audience. According to Blum, a young professional who slows down a fast-paced speaking style can instantly sound more authoritative. Need more help slowing down your motor mouth? Check out these presentation tips by Diane DiResta, author of Knockout Presentations.

Use your hands effectively

“Most people use their hands when they speak, but very few use them in a way that supports their words,” says Blum. He suggests looking for opportunities to gesture while you’re thinking through and rehearsing your presentation. For instance, are you describing something big or small, expanding or contracting, over here or over there? Use your gestures to help drive home your points. Check out these hand gesture tips by Matt Abrahams, author of Speaking Up without Freaking Out.

Have mini conversations

Do you have a fear of speaking with people one-on-one? For most people, the fear of public speaking only creeps up when your audience involves a group of people. To combat this anxiety, Blum suggests having “mini-conversations” during your presentation. Instead of speaking to “the room,” direct your presentation to specific individuals in the room.

“Having these few-second mini-conversations will calm your nerves, improve your eye contact, and engage your audience,” says Blum. Still having trouble making eye contact? Try staring at the foreheads of individuals in your audience. It will still look like you’re making eye contact without causing you to feel more nervous.

Have a tip that’s worked for you? Share it in the comments section below!

Clarifying Your Core Values

Values

 

A key element of “knowing thyself” is sorting out what’s really important to you. Without a clear sense of your personal principles and priorities, it’s almost impossible to bring the picture of your preferred future sharply into focus. Investing the time and effort to uncover and articulate your personal principles has many important benefits.

You’ll have a strong foundation to build your leadership upon. James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s study of credible and effective leaders led them to conclude, “Values are directly relevant to credibility. To do what we say we will do (our respondents’ behavioral definition of credibility), we must know what we want to do and how we wish to behave. That’s what our values help us to define.”

Clear personal principles give you a much stronger sense of your personal “bottom-line.” Knowing where you stand clarifies what you won’t sit still for.

It’s easier to make choices between conflicting opportunities that arise, where to invest your time, what behavior is most appropriate, and where you need to concentrate your personal improvement efforts.

You’ll be much closer to finding your personal energy source and developing that critical leadership passion.

Your self-identity, self-confidence, and sense of security will be strengthened.

Your principles will provide the stable and solid core you need to transform the rapid changes coming at all of us from terrifying threats into exciting opportunities.

You can more clearly see to what extent your personal values are aligned with your team and organization’s values.

To clarify your core values, develop a comprehensive list of all your possible values. Now rank each one as “A” (high importance), “B” (medium importance), “C” (low importance). Review your A and B values. Are there any that you feel are essentially the same value or one is an obvious subset of the other? If so, bring them together and rename it if necessary. Rank order the remaining list from highest through to lowest priority. You should now have your top five core values.

FOCUSING ON YOUR CORE VALUES:

Ask yourself whether these are your true, internal “bone deep” beliefs or an external “should” value. We often don’t recognize a lifetime of conditioning that has left us with other people’s belief systems. Replace any “should” values with your own.

Examine each core value to ensure that it is your end value and not a means to some other end. For example, wealth is seldom a value in itself. It’s usually the means to status, power, security, recognition, freedom, accomplishment, pleasure, helping others, or some other end value.

Write out a “statement of philosophy” that outlines and explains each of your core values. This is for you own private use, so be as honest and candid as you can.

These exercises are rarely done quickly. It could take you dozens or even hundreds of hours to sort through the “shouldas”, “oughtas” and “couldas” and get to your basic, core principles. The more meditation, contemplation, and writing time you put into this, the truer and more energizing your core values will become.

“VALUING” YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS

Your values largely affect how you behave and how others perceive
you. Identifying them is important to understanding what makes you effective, satisfied and personally successful. Once you are aware of the dominant attitudes contributing passion and purpose to your life, you will be able to clarify what drives your actions, as well as what causes conflict. For example, if you are currently questioning whether you are in the right career, knowing your attitudes will help you decide. In addition, applying an understanding of attitudes to your relationships with others will deepen your appreciation of them and clarify the “why” of your interactions.

Another way to learn more about your “values” which are your intrinsic motivators, you can take an assessment. To learn how visit http://www.thejenksgroup.com or call 858 525-3163.

 

CEOs Are Hired to be Fired, an excerpt from CEO Point Blank

CEO Point Blank

CEOs, like football coaches, don’t retire.  They always get fired.  Let me qualify that: For those of us unafraid to lead change in aging institutions, who must grapple with people in key positions who have tenure all their own, and are willing to take on the challenge of financial deficits and uncooperative teams, know this: in the end, we go out as we came in.  We get fired.  Everyone loves us on the way in because we’re going to fix things up and make their future more secure.  But once you do that, and in the process begin to demand productivity and accountability, you’re just a pain in the ass to people and they are not afraid to speak up about it.

So, no matter how anxious you are to jump in and get started at your new job, wait until you’re operating under a contract that protects your interests now and in the future.

There are many things to consider and I strongly suggest you get yourself a great human resources attorney to help you.  You want someone who works on the other side of the corporate line–the kind of attorney who, in other circumstances, might be asking you some tough questions.  I far prefer and recommend you hire an ass-kicking female attorney as in almost all the human resources litigation battles I’ve been in, opposing counsel invariably is female.  They seem to talk the talk better and also, in the majority of cases, they are talking to corporate human resources which, in my experience, is predominately where you find female executives.

Every CEO should have personal counsel that stays with you throughout your career.  He or she should understand your motives, your idiosyncrasies, your style and should help you in crafting an employment agreement that works.  Once you engage, your attorney should be kept up to date with any compensation and/or performance reviews (or the lack of same), and any other correspondence that you feel may at some point come back to harm or question you.  When you get in a jam, and you will, you don’t want to be playing dialing-for-help or worse, trying to convince a new attorney that you’re a good guy or gal.

If you’re going into a hostile environment, or if you’re going into an environment hostilely, you want a contract that basically says, hey, we all understand this is already hostile so you can’t come back later on and whack me when someone gets upset.  There are always people in organizations who are upset about change.  Where your predecessor might have let them slide a bit on meeting objectives, or let them take Friday afternoons off, you don’t; therefore, you eventually will become a thorn in someone’s side.  This can come back on you later and you want to be protected against these kinds of issues or potential allegations that come with the territory.  Your help and decisiveness that everyone loved the day you walked in are often soon forgotten.

You also need to think carefully about a parachute of some kind that keeps you going if someone pulls the plug on you.  Most contracts for the top executive will carry some sort of buyout clause.  People get sick of you, the board gets sick of you, whatever, you need to establish how much cash you have to have in order to complete the timetable of transition.  There are several tricks here.  Most attorneys will want a two-step out; the first for “good reason” or “no cause,” and the second “for cause.”  If you think you ever get a shot at the former, good luck and God bless you.  Boards always want to terminate you “for cause” and if they can get something that sticks, you lose your ability to negotiate a safe exit and you’ll wind up fighting them in court or in arbitration.   Your contract should maintain the same financial deal whether you go happy or you go being dragged down the hall on your ass.  Setting the stage up front while everyone is thrilled to be bringing you on board is a lot easier than it is when the chips are down and you are, too.  Remember, on the day they hired you they made the best decision of their lives, and that enthusiasm should work to get you the best deal for your exit on the day you start.

Another key point is to establish a travel and expense policy that meets your needs.  Write it yourself, take it to the board, have them ratify it and publish it with human resources, the controller, your executive admin, and your audit team.

Your company travel and expense policy needs to be written in accordance with your needs, which is the reason you must write it yourself.  No one in the organization understands what you do every day and also what you can’t do in order to do your job.  For instance, it is not the best use of your time to be sitting in coach, trying to find wi-fi and unable to open your laptop all the way because the guy in front of you put his seat back and is snoring happily away while you’re trying to get down the terms of a deal you just agreed to.  I always expected, both of myself and the executives who worked for me, to use flying time as work time.  There is a reason why they created first-class seats.

Make sure that the board expects the best from you and also for you.  This means you don’t always have to say who you had dinner with or who you met with in Los Angeles.  There are so many examples of how this seemingly small issue can really hurt an organization that it’s critical to your success, and the board needs to understand why.

To emphasize my advice: At one point I was actively interviewing candidates to replace two board members that had far outworn their contribution to the organization.  I had polled my executive team to discern their thoughts and we were all in complete agreement.  I set off on a journey to find suitable candidates. This required both travel and dinners, which at that level were not at McDonald’s.  Through some condition of fate, the board became aware of my actions and before I could act, they did.  In my exit interview, one of their claims “for cause” was that I failed to accurately record who I met with and where I met them.  In the interview, I refused to name the folks I talked to or where I was.  They called this insubordination and added it to the list of “for cause termination.”

In one job I had, in a company with a commodity-driven product, where I went and who I met with had the potential to move the market, and not always in a positive way.  Keeping my travel quiet and not always telling everyone where I was going was critical to my success.

Be sure your travel and expense policy allows you to move with stealth, and act to your station which may mean expensive nights out with potential execs, or flying first-class with the folks you’re making a deal with, or buying someone an expensive gift or a bottle of wine.  In short, if your board trusts you, you need to spend what you need to spend to get the job done.  Having such a policy in place helps the board remember the agreement when it comes time to part ways.

When that time comes, try not to wallow around too much in it and never allow the mud to stick to your feet.

– Ed Jenks is Senior Consultant and Chief Strategist of The Jenks Group, Inc. is a well-known and nationally recognized business professional with more than twenty-five years as a C-Suite Executive. You can follow him on http://ceopointblank.com/