4 Warning Signs that Your Company Has Lost Its Mojo

Our business world is changing faster than ever, and the ability to grow and innovate is what drives successful companies. However, many businesses find that their growth slows or stalls after a period of great success. There are many warning signs that foreshadow one of these slow downs, and if you pay attention to the signs, you may be able to keep your company’s mojo going.

Ignored Feedback

 

One of the most immediate signs of lost mojo is a lack of meaningful criticism. Whether the feedback comes from customers or the lowest rung of the employee ladder, no business can survive if it doesn’t actively listen and respond to feedback. Every company will receive criticism, but when the critiques are powerful and consistent, pay attention. Failing to do so can so serious harm to your business.

On one hand, you’ll be unable to address critical shortcomings that can eventually lead to stagnation. You may lack strong customer service or consistency in product quality. Whatever your weakness, if you’re resistant to change, you’ll inevitably run into a major roadblock. On the other hand, if you ignore the feedback and suggestions of your employees, you run the risk of discouraging innovation. Your staff will no longer feel motivated to improve the company, and without someone championing your cause at every level of the organization, you won’t be able to maintain your desired level of growth.

Loss of Innovators

 

With that in mind, innovative thinkers are often drawn to businesses that are open to change and creativity. If your company is losing its mojo, you’ll begin to see these key innovators leave in droves. If they aren’t challenged in their work and their creative talents aren’t put to use, they will move onto greener pastures, leaving your organization with a limited talent pool. This is a major indicator that you aren’t pushing boundaries or exploring innovations in your industry.

Quantity Over Quality

 

Pay attention to the mindsets of upper management. If they become solely committed to the numbers, your company may be in trouble. Focusing on the bottom line rather than the future vision for the company can be a death sentence. Innovation and transformation are what drive success, and if you’re only concerned with numbers, you’re failing to leverage valuable opportunities to advance your brand. Whether it’s investing in more feature-rich software or seeking out creative talent, you should be open to new opportunities for growth. Don’t get mired in tradition or by-the-books business practices. Embrace new technologies or methods to encourage growth for your business.

Unsustainable Growth

 

On the flip side, it can be dangerous to focus solely on growth. It’s better to achieve vibrancy through gradual, well-planned growth than to aim for a meteoric rise to success. Growing too quickly can burn through your resources or result in a workload that overwhelms your staff. In turn, you may find yourself hiring second-rate employees to keep up with this growth, which can often be counterproductive. Instead, to synchronize growth in every aspect of your business, focus on building your infrastructure gradually.

Pay attention to the warning signs, and you’ll ensure that your business maintains its mojo and its competitive foothold in the marketplace for years to come.

How does your company keep its mojo going?

3 Ways to Use Collaboration to Accelerate Ideas

For generations, American culture has prioritized the individual. Employees were encouraged to look out for their own interests and find the best possible way of getting ahead in their industry. However, this “it’s all about me” focus has negative impact on the company, co-workers and particularly innovation.

Teamwork and collaboration has been proven to be the key to generating new ideas and sparking innovation. Here are three ways companies can use collaboration to accelerate ideas within their industry.

Encourage an Open Dialogue

A culture of collaboration creates an environment that nurtures ideas and innovation and improves employee satisfaction. There are many ways to promote collaboration, from encouraging employees to share their opinions with upper management to company town hall meetings to organizing regular brainstorming sessions. This opens avenues of communication between team leaders and various departments of the organization, allowing for a more effective implementation of ideas across the company.

Throw Out the Book

Following the rules can get in the way of innovation. In many companies, there’s a lot of unnecessary red tape, so collaborative “rule-breaking” with other departments may be necessary to simplify business practices. During your next staff meeting, ask your employees:
• Which policies are getting in the way of their creativity?
• What is hindering their ability to perform their tasks effectively?
• Do you hold too many meetings?

It may be as simple as a more relaxed dress code or as complex as whittling down the layers of communication required to implement a new idea. Collaborate with your staff to simplify your rulebook and keep only the essentials in place.

Hold Intensive Training Sessions

Innovation is a skill that takes practice to be mastered, and one of the best ways to do that as a team is through group training sessions. These can be in-house events or company retreats designed to facilitate creativity and forward thinking. You can focus on themes such as idea generation and implementation, effective teamwork, and individual creativity. Effective trainings can not only help with critical skill-building, but they can also help reinforce the idea that each employee has the opportunity to affect the direction of the company. Your team will be more cohesive and better able to tackle unique challenges as a result.

Without collaboration, innovation is impossible. But collaboration isn’t simply a machine that creates new concepts—it also improves communication and the overall efficiency of your team. By implementing these three collaboration tips, you’ll help your staff become more cohesive, productive, creative and innovative.

What are you doing to drive collaboration at your company? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

Happiness in the Workplace

“The lens through which your brain views the world shapes reality—and if we can change the lens, we can change reality.” –Shawn Achor, TED Talks

Everyone knows that success breeds happiness—or does it? According to some recent research, it’s actually the other way around: happiness breeds success.

In a recent TED Talk, psychologist Shawn Achor explains why working to achieve happiness is a game that’s impossible to win. Instead, we need to be happy first, and that will lead to better work and higher productivity.
Here’s what Achor and his team found through an eight-year study of happiness and its ties to success, and how you can create happiness in the workplace that propels your team to productive and successful new heights.

Beyond the “Cult of Average”

Early in the talk, Achor discusses the traditional foundations for professional research. First, a question is posed that requires a researched answer. The question might be something like, “How long does it take an employee to learn Task A in Setting B?” The researcher will automatically alter the question slightly, and set out to discover “How long does it take an average employee to learn Task A in Setting B?” The resulting research will focus on the average performance, and will discount the “outliers”—subjects who performed far above or far below the average.

In this happiness study, Achor decided to escape the cult of average. Since the goal was to discover what factors resulted in above-average performance, productivity, and success, the study focused on the outliers instead of the “normal” performance bracket.

During his speech, Achor stated, “If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.” Therefore, the goal of this research was to elevate the average and bring everyone above the curve, instead of conforming to average expectations.

Finding a Happy Place

Achor and his team carried out most of this eight-year study at Harvard University. Harvard is a world of the privileged and elite—the freshman dining hall looks like a scene straight out of Hogwarts University from the Harry Potter films. During the talk, Achor said people would often ask him why he wasted his time studying happiness at Harvard, when the students there had nothing to be unhappy about.

The key to the answer, Achor said, lies in the question—which assumes that the external world is predictive of happiness. The study found that external factors only account for 10 percent of long-term happiness. The other 90 percent is dependent on the way an individual’s brain processes that external world.

For the majority of students at Harvard, no matter how happy they were about the privilege of being accepted to the school, “…two weeks later, their brains were focused on the competition, the stresses, the workloads, the hassles, the complaints,” Achor said.

The Solution: Happiness First

Most of today’s organizations, including schools and businesses, follow the same formula for success. Achor states this formula as: “If I work harder, I’ll be more successful, and if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.” But his research has shown why this formula only makes success harder, and even elusive.

Each time a person succeeds, their idea of what success looks like also changes. If they’ve landed a good job, they have to get a better job. If they’ve hit a sales target, they have to aim for a higher target. “Success” is always just around the corner—and because happiness depends on success, no one ever gets there.

By turning the formula around and supplying happiness first, you can foster success. If you can raise an individual’s level of positivity in the present, that person experiences what Achor calls a “happiness advantage.” A mind at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral, or stress, with increased intelligence, creativity, and energy levels, and achieves a productivity boost of up to 31 percent.

The study found that placing happiness ahead of success improves every business outcome, from job security and loyalty to productivity, resilience, sales performance, and more. So the secret to having more productive employees is to make them happy first.

Create a workplace culture that is positive, motivational, and promotes happiness, and your organization will achieve the “happiness advantage.” Happiness will drive your success—instead of the other way around.

What are you doing to create happiness in your workplace?

5 Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback

For most professionals, the idea of giving or receiving feedback is uncomfortable at best, and may even be downright cringe-worthy. There’s also a prominent line of thought that all “feedback” is negative—especially among those who work for or with people who only communicate when there’s a problem, and never provide positive feedback.

However, feedback is critical to a high-performing organization. Studies have shown that a lack of communication contributes to 80 percent of issues in the workplace.

If you’re one of the many who struggle with feedback, here are five tips to help you give and receive feedback that’s positive and worthwhile for yourself, your team, and your organization.

Make feedback a daily habit

Feedback is often associated with annual reviews or performance reports, but it doesn’t have to be formal—and it shouldn’t require a stack of forms or a permanent file. Offering casual feedback on a regular basis is a great way to improve your ability to give and receive it, as well as an excellent opportunity to make positive changes in your company.

The best time to give casual feedback is immediately after the action that prompted the feedback. This includes both positive and negative actions, whether it’s interrupting a meeting inappropriately or a particularly great customer service activity.

Don’t classify feedback as “positive” and “negative”

While the actions of employees or co-workers may be helpful or poor, you can provide better and more balanced feedback by viewing it as simply feedback—neither positive, nor negative. If you see feedback as a neutral, almost journalistic action, you’ll be able to get your point across clearly without offending the receiver of the feedback.

You can apply this same idea to receiving feedback yourself. Even if the person offering feedback frames the message in positive or negative terms, remind yourself that it’s simply information that could be useful. This helps you avoid responding emotionally, and ensures you get the most value from the feedback being given.

Consider your feedback goals

Before you decide what to say when giving feedback, you should understand why you want to say it. Having a goal helps you deliver feedback that is relevant, useful, and helpful to the person receiving it.
Ask yourself questions like, “What kind of information do my employees need? What would help them succeed in their jobs?” The broad goals of any feedback should be to let employees know how they’re doing and to encourage positive, productive behavior in the future.

Assume the best intentions

If you’re offering critical feedback to an employee, approach with the assumption that their actions had a positive intent. Assume that your employees want to perform positively and effectively—and you’re simply offering feedback that will help them accomplish those positive goals. In truth, most people are looking to do better, and will appreciate suggestions that will help them succeed.

Get specific

Particularly when it comes to critical feedback, it’s important to talk about specific examples of actions and behaviors that should be improved, rather than making general, broad statements. For example, if you notice an employee walking past a customer who’s clearly in need of help, state that in your feedback—rather than accusing the employee of being insensitive to customers’ needs.

And if you’re receiving feedback, seek out specific details when they’re not given. Remain non-defensive in your tone and body language, and ask for details about the situation, such as a specific example that the person giving the feedback might have observed.

Giving and receiving feedback doesn’t have to be painful or uncomfortable. When you make feedback a habit and approach with the viewpoint of using it as a helpful, effective communication tool, great feedback can benefit your entire organization.

6 Ways to Ace an Interview

Resumes are important tools for your job search, but interviews are the key to moving from job seeker to happily employed. Right now, millennials in the job market are facing tough competition from both their peers and an older, often more experienced workforce—so knowing how to ace the interview is crucial.

Here are six ways you can make a strong, positive impression at your next interview, and land that perfect job.

  1. Do Your Homework

Career expert and Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel states one of the biggest problems employers have with millennials is that they aren’t prepared for interviews.

Thorough research is one of the best things you can do to prepare for job interviews. Find out as much as you can about the company and the person you’re interviewing with ahead of time by reading their website, searching them on Google, connecting on LinkedIn, checking out company reviews on sites like Glassdoor, and talking to current and former employees.

While you’re researching, think about how your skills and experience will benefit this company in particular.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Did you drive perfectly the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? If not, why would you go to an interview and expect to be amazing if you’ve never done it before (or you’ve done it once or twice, but not very well)? Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to interviewing.

There are several ways you can practice interviewing before you go for the real thing. Mock interviews with a professional can not only help you get some interview time in, but also provide you with feedback to improve your interviewing skills. You can also try practice interviews with a friend, or video yourself answering interview questions so you can review and analyze your performance.

  1. Bring a Business Card

To most millennials, this advice might sound archaic. After all, everything is online these days, and no one carries around those little rectangles of paper with printed contact information when you can just text or email.

In an interview with Business Insider, Schawbel recommended that millennial job seekers can benefit from having a business card to hand interviewers “because people don’t expect you to have that.” Where business cards used to be an expectation, they’re practically a novelty in the digital age—and employers will remember you for having them.

They’re also very affordable, with sites like VistaPrint.com offering 100 custom business cards for around $10.

  1. Bring Samples of Your Work

Chances are, you’ve already sent potential employers a link to your online portfolio or other samples of your work when you submitted your resume. But if you’re looking to ace the interview, bring copies with you—especially if you’re applying for a creative position like marketing or design.

Directing employers to a link or website during an interview can be awkward, or even annoying. Instead, have a thumb drive you can hand to the interviewer with your work pre-loaded, so your accomplishments can conveniently speak for themselves.

  1. Ask Great Questions

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an interview is to come up with great questions to ask your interviewer. Use all that research you’ve done on the company to formulate interesting, well-informed questions that demonstrate your knowledge, and prove you really want to work for this company.

Virtually every interview is guaranteed to end with the interviewer asking whether you have any questions for them—but don’t save your questions until the end. Keep an ear out for strategic, relevant openings during the interview to ask your questions, and pay close attention to the responses.

Some sample questions you might ask your interviewer include:

  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • What is the workplace culture like here?
  • How would my performance be evaluated?
  • What challenges are facing [the department you’re interviewing for] right now?
  • Does the company encourage collaboration and innovation and how?
  1. Know Your ROI

When it comes to hiring, nearly every employer is looking for a return on their investment. When you arrive at an interview, be prepared to show them the numbers.

Your resume should contain this information as well. Make sure you can demonstrate ways you’ve been able to decrease costs, increase revenues, improve processes, or boost returns for past employers. If this will be your first job, have some prepared ROI statements for school accomplishments or personal projects.

Keep in mind that an interview is your chance to show an employer why they can’t afford not to hire you.

The Power of Thanks

You know how much you appreciate your employees, but do they know? Every workplace can get hectic and it’s easy to take things for granted, including the great work your employees, co-workers, supervisors and even clients do. But if you make a conscious effort to say “thank you” more often, you’ll realize powerful results.

Research from advisory services firm Bersin & Associates has added numbers to the common-sense idea that saying thanks is good for you, and your business. The Bersin study found that companies with excellent employee recognition skills are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results than companies that don’t.

The specifics of thanking employees

According to Bersin & Associates, businesses that focused on rewarding their employees realized a 14% improvement in employee engagement, productivity, and customer service. The study looked further at these gratitude-prone companies, and found that they all share three common traits:

  • Focused recognition programs that include feedback and thanks from both managers and peers
  • Recognition that ties directly to business goals and company values to reinforce strategy
  • Open and transparent access to the recognition program, allowing employees to recognize anyone, and see who else is being recognized

 

Here are some tips on the best ways to thank your employees, co-workers, customers, or anyone in your business environment—and boost your productivity and profits.

Don’t just say thanks—mean it

People can tell when you’re not being sincere, and offering empty praise just because you feel like you should can backfire. Thank your employees when they do something you appreciate, in a general and heartfelt manner.

Include the why

The best thanks are specific. A lot of employees have heard “great job” or “keep up the good work,” but this vague praise really doesn’t mean anything. Instead, spell out exactly what you appreciate—you might say “thanks for handling that difficult customer in a tactful way,” or “I appreciate you staying late at the office yesterday, we wouldn’t have finished that project on time without you.” Get in the habit of starting your gratitude with “thank you for…”.

Break out the stationery

In a world brimming with texts, emails, posts and tweets, a handwritten thank-you note is really something special. Written thanks, whether presented on a nice sheet of paper or a simple thank-you card, can mean a lot to the recipient. They’ll not only appreciate that you took the time to write a thank-you note, but they’ll also have something they can show others—concrete proof that they’re appreciated.

Make your handwritten thanks personal, and vary your message so you aren’t writing the same thing to everyone. Here are some example thank-you note starters you can use:

  • We really appreciate your help with…
  • I’m so grateful for…
  • Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to…so thank you.
  • I’ve learned so much from you…
  • I think others will benefit from your work. Can I share it with…
  • You always give 100 percent, and I really appreciate it…
  • We’re so lucky to have you as part of our team…

 

Don’t wait to start saying thank you more often in the workplace. The more often you offer your genuine and heartfelt appreciation, the happier your employees (and clients) will be to work with you—and they’ll work even harder to keep receiving thanks.

5 Surprising Benefits of Manager Employee Interactions

Employee motivation is the key to a happy and productive workplace. But unless your managers are interacting with your employees, the potential for motivation is slim.

It’s important to remember that money isn’t the only motivator—it’s not even necessarily the biggest. Motivation is often personal, driven to a large degree by individual circumstances, but there are some universal motivators that can fuel any employee’s performance. Among them are recognition, non-financial rewards, increased autonomy, and simple human connections, all of which can be achieved through greater manager-employee interaction.

Here are five ways managers can interact more with employees, and the motivational benefits these interactions achieve.

  1. Make Interaction a Daily To-Do

In the business world, nothing happens unless it’s a priority. Managers are often pressed for time and will focus on work-related issues before less urgent matters like talking with their staff.

Employee interaction can become a priority if managers realize that it truly is a work-related issue. Talking with your employees daily helps you build rapport, get to know them better, and lets them get to know you—so that “open door” policy you have truly feels like an open door.

It doesn’t take much. Simply greeting employees at the start of the day, saying goodbye at the end, and working in a few quick conversations about your employees’ work projects, personal life, or even weekend plans can go a long way toward building a happy and productive work environment.

  1. Help Employees Manage Themselves

Autonomy and a sense of purpose can be powerful motivators. Managers can help to build these motivational tools by empowering their employees to self-manage performance, development, and career progression.

Ask each of your employees to draft a yearly set of goals and development plans, and make the time to sit down with them individually for discussion and refinement. When your employees play an active role in their own career performance, they’ll be more motivated to deliver—and less in need of direct management.

  1. Reward Employees on a Personal Scale

Financial rewards for great performance is standard and accepted, but not all of your employees may need, or even want, extra money. Instead of defaulting to monetary rewards, ask your employees directly what they’d like or appreciate in return for recognition-worthy efforts.

Some may still want money. Others might prefer an extra day off or flexible scheduling, branded items or company stock, or even public recognition. Personalizing rewards and recognition for your employees demonstrates that you care about their interests and truly value their contributions to the team.

  1. Take the Time to Talk Shop

You may be surprised to discover that your employees can have valuable business insights that may benefit your department, or the entire company.

Employees are the closest people to actual work processes—and the customers you serve. They’re often able to identify the best opportunities for improvements, innovation, and increased customer satisfaction. So turn your small talk into shop talk, and stay tuned for important insights into your organization.

  1. Make the Little Things Count

No matter what kind of overall environment your company has, it’s the little things that make the difference. When interacting with employees, keep in mind that small, day-to-day actions—from the way you manage performance in general to the tone you set by greeting (or not greeting) employees each morning—can have the greatest impact.

Often, all it takes is a heartfelt “thank you” to restore disengaged employees and spark motivation. The more effort you put into manager-employee interactions, the more your company will benefit from happier and more productive employees.

 

What creative ways have you discovered to motivate and recognize your team members?

The #1 Most Important Communication Tool

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “communication tool”? Most people might think of phones or email, or apps that streamline communication. Some might even think of speaking or writing as basic, essential tools for communication.

But in reality, the most important tool we have for communication is our ears.

Listening is the key to effective communication. The ability to truly pay attention to what someone else is saying improves not only the quality of what we hear and understand, but also the enthusiasm and engagement of the other person involved in the communication.

Here’s why listening is crucial, and how you can improve your listening skills to significantly increase the effectiveness of your communication.

Being present in an age of distraction

Everyone has tried to hold a conversation with someone who’s busy texting, checking their messages, or using an app on their mobile device. Smartphones and tablets are fully integrated into our culture—so firmly that many people aren’t even aware of their reliance on these devices, or how often they’re using them.

If you’re used to multi-tasking, the first step to improving your communication is teaching yourself to listen without distractions. This means putting the phone down while you’re talking to someone, whether you’re at work, at home, or out and about. Implementing this practice yourself can also encourage others to ignore their devices and be more present, which strengthens your relationships.

Catching non-verbal cues

When you’re truly listening, you’re able to interpret non-verbal cues that can be easily miss if you’re distracted or not paying attention. Communication experts say that up to 85% of communication is non-verbal—including physical movements, eye contact, posture, and physiological presence.

Non-verbal cues can help you understand what someone is really saying, even if the context isn’t clear. Another important part of active listening is paying attention to your own non-verbal signals, and making sure you’re demonstrating your interest levels through good eye contact, attentive posture, and a lack of distracted gestures.

Speaking in listening mode

Great listeners are able to demonstrate their attention through verbal as well as non-verbal cues. Verbal listening strategies include extending an open invitation to talk, encouraging the other person with a few brief words, and asking open-ended questions.

Inviting someone to talk can be as simple as reading their body language and asking about it. For example, if a person seems upset, you might say, “You look like something is bothering you. Want to talk about it?” Or if someone seems happy or excited, you could say, “It looks like you’ve had some good news. Do you want to share?” Once you’re engaged in a conversation, you can use short, encouraging phrases like “I see,” or “Go on,” to indicate that you’re listening and want to hear more.

Finally, great listeners use questions to connect and engage with others. They ask an open-ended question—one that invites a more thorough answer. For example, instead of asking, “Are you worried about the meeting tomorrow?” a good listener would say, “How do you feel about the meeting tomorrow?”

 

Developing your listening skills can vastly improve your communication, and help you advance in both your business and your personal life. How do you show others that you’re listening?

 

Are You Operating From Your Strengths? 3 Ways to Know

Whether you’re looking to land the perfect job or advance your current career, understanding and leveraging your strengths is one of the most important things you can do. When you operate from your strengths, you’ll have less stress, higher satisfaction, and greater productivity—and most importantly, you will be in complete alignment with yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re working against your strengths, your performance will suffer, your stress levels will increase, and you’ll find yourself stuck in your career and your life.

A strength is any ability you have that you are naturally inclined to do well, a natural talent …it’s where you perform at your highest and best. But how do you know what your strengths truly are?

To effectively leverage your strengths, you need to understand them beyond generic statements like “I’m good with people” or “I’m a fast learner.” Here are three ways you can determine your own strengths and put them to work for you to achieve bold success.

CONSIDER YOUR CORE VALUES

What’s important to you, both personally and professionally? Your values and your passions can help point you toward your strengths—people spend more time and energy on what’s important to them, and as a result, skills based on your values tend to improve at a faster rate.

Some common personal and professional values include:

  • Work-life balance
  • Physical and/or mental health and wellbeing
  • Job security
  • Financial gain
  • Respect and/or recognition
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Continuous learning / ongoing education
  • Helping others / giving back
  • Collaboration/ team environments
  • Creativity / innovation

 

LISTEN TO YOUR EMOTIONAL CUES

You will often know where your strengths lie on a subconscious level , but you may not have paid attention to how you feel when you’re performing certain activities so you can pinpoint them. Listen to your internal cues as you work and play to learn which activities bring you happiness and satisfaction. Do you feel confident and accomplished when you’re in a leadership position? Does it thrill you when you solve a complex problem? Do you enjoy brainstorming or taking a class?

 

GET A SECOND OPINION

Another way to identify your strengths is through the lens of other people. So ask them directly. Sit down with someone who knows you well, and ask them what they feel are your greatest strengths. The answers may surprise you.

You can also consider other people’s responses to your efforts. For example, if you enjoy organizing events, do you typically have a lot of people show up? Do they enjoy the events, and come back for others you organize? Positive actions are a strong confirmation of your strengths.

Finally, if you’re unable to identify any of your strengths innately, try adding new activities to your work or personal life. Choose something that aligns with your natural passions—and you may discover strengths you never expected to find, that could lead you in exciting new directions.

 

DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS

At launchbox, we use Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 book and online assessment. It’s a great tool that helps you identify your strengths, from 34 different themes, and gives you strategies for applying them to your life. Get Strengths Finder now and start living from your strengths.

Let Executive Coaching Strengthen Your Leadership

Everywhere professionals are turning to executive coaches—whether they’re looking to hit the ground running with a new leadership position, reinvigorate a struggling career, or drive changes in their business. As a training tool, executive coaching helps leaders succeed through personal behavior-oriented guidance and one-on-one attention. They provide tools and sustainability tips to help change bad habits and build new, more productive ones.

If you or your company is considering or currently using executive coaching, here’s what you should know to maximize this valuable tool and strengthen your company’s leadership team.

WHAT COACHING IS – AND WHAT IT ISN’T
Many people believe coaching and consulting are interchangeable, but there are important differences. Consultants will come in to analyze a situation and tell clients what to do in order to solve the problems. A coach’s role is more personal and direct—executive coaches are just that… coaches who support and enable their clients to analyze themselves and their working styles, and draw their own transformational conclusions about how to solve problems. Most consultants create recommendations and conclusions without really looking within the individual. Coaches train, push, mentor and help their clients transform themselves with direct, authentic “no nonsense” counsel.

However, a coach is not a miracle worker. People need to want to transform. There needs to be a desire to change habits and performance. So, avoid enlisting an executive coach in a last-ditch attempt to save a member of your leadership team who has serious performance issues and does not know it or want to know it. These leaders will often resist or completely reject coaching, which clearly wastes company resources and drastically reduces the chance of success.

WHO SHOULD BE COACHED?
Typically, HR reviews the available budget for executive coaching and decides which leaders should receive coaching. The majority of executive coaching clients, according to the International Coach Federation, are between 36 and 45 years old and hold a post-graduate degree. Additionally, 65 percent of coaching clients are female, and the top three reasons among all clients for seeking coaching are self-confidence, career opportunities, and improving work/life balance.

Coaching is most effective for executives who are:

  • Getting ready for a promotion
  • Transitioning into a new role
  • Providing value but stuck in their growth and development

HOW TO CREATE AN EXECUTIVE COACHING PROGRAM
In order to develop a successful executive coaching program, you need to design a contract that addresses different aspects of the coaching work, including confidentiality, duration, medium, and cost. In addition, you’ll need to decide whether to work with internal coaches, external coaches, or both. The best programs teach you how to create internal coaches and mentors to sustain positive results.

  • Confidentiality: Make sure the coach understands what information should be shared with whom, and what should remain confidential. For example, feedback gathered from colleagues, co-workers, and stakeholders about the coaching candidate should be kept confidential to facilitate honesty—but the development plan based on that feedback should be shared with the providers.
  • Duration: The length of the coaching engagement can vary, depending on the objectives, but in general most executive coaching goals can be reached through bi-monthly meetings over six to nine months.
  • Medium: Coaches and clients may meet in person, or communicate via phone, email, or video calls. The majority of coaches prefer to work face-to-face, but many will supplement with phone or video calls when in-person meetings are difficult to arrange.
  • Cost: The average rate for executive coaching is $350 per hour, with a range of $200, to $3,000 an hour. While this can represent a costly investment, coaching is often a good value compared to other leadership development options—particularly since the process develops relationships with ongoing support.
  • Internal vs. external coaching: There are benefits and drawbacks to each side of this debate. Internal coaches are typically less expensive, and have a more thorough understanding of a particular company’s industry, culture, and operation. However, confidentiality can be difficult to maintain with an internal arrangement, and senior executives often prefer working with an external coach rather than revealing their vulnerabilities to someone within the organization.


EXECUTIVE COACHING PITFALLS

While coaching can be a highly effective tool for leadership development, watch for these pitfalls to ensure an effective program.

Finding the right fit: First and foremost make sure the coach is a fit for your organization. Their personality must match the success-driven results you seek. For example, if you are looking for sales help, make sure you get a coach that understands how to sell.

Failure to prioritize: “Busy” and “executive” are practically synonymous. Especially for emerging leaders, executives may not realize the value of making time for coaching—and if they don’t prioritize the coaching process, they won’t gain the benefits.

Over-reliance: On the flip side, some executives may come to depend on their coaches for too much—or you may see a higher demand rate for coaching than your budget allows. When assigning executive coaching, be sure it’s the right solution for a given situation.
Giving the wrong impression: If your organization has used remedial coaching in the past, your executives may feel their positions are in jeopardy if they’re approached about receiving coaching. Make it clear that you’re providing executive coaching as a tool for personal growth, not as a “test” that executives must pass if they want to keep their jobs.


READY FOR COACHING?

When implemented strategically, an executive coaching program will deliver a high return on investment, resulting in permanent “habit” changes for your leadership team and a strengthened organization.

At launchbox, we have our own brand of coaching – it’s direct, in-your-face and focused on achieving bold results. Ready to get started?