Why Incentives Help You Achieve Your Goals

When it comes to making goals, we often forget an important aspect: the reward. You can argue that achieving the goal in and of itself is the reward, and in most cases, I’d agree. However, there are some goals where having an additional incentive may encourage you to stick it out longer, than if you were doing it just for the goal achievement itself.

If the goal is going to take time and focused effort to achieve, then setting incremental benchmarks can be useful. The concept is similar to how you create your 90 Day Plan, and in fact compliments your endeavors. Identify your long-term goal, and then figure out what you can do in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Then choose things from your bucket list (i.e. fun things you desire to do/see, but you never seem to have the time to do) that would match the effort it is going to take for you to reach each of the milestones.

For example, getting a promotion at work that you know you should go for soon, but that you are not that motivated to try right now. True the benefit is a pay raise, but if you are holding yourself back, because you are listening to negative tapes in your head telling you that you are not good at test taking, studying, or paperwork, then an outside incentive linked to something you very much want to do or have may help you achieve this goal. And, achieve it sooner, rather than later.

So, in this promotion example, as you identify if you have the pre-requisites and find out what training you will need to take, link a reward to passing the tests or the actual promotion itself. If you’ve always wanted to go scuba diving, spend a day at a spa, or ride a dirt bike, then promise yourself that you will do it once you’ve achieved your goal.

The key is to plan out how long it will take you to achieve your goal. If it is going to take longer than a week or even 3 months, then it is a good idea to celebrate your small victories along the way as well. So, for example, if it is a big step for you to approach your boss and let her or him know you’re interested in more responsibility, then celebrate on a smaller scale after you’ve sat down with your boss—buy a snorkel, get the helmet, or pick out what treatments you want to get done at the spa. Just remember, if the step that you need to take needs external motivation to get you started, then attach a reward to that step.

Pasting visual pictures of what your goal will look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like once you’ve achieved it—right next to the picture of you on the dirt bike or at the spa can help you on the rough days when you don’t feel like going after your goal. When you’re tired of being just outside of your comfort zone, and are happy to slide back into what you had been doing—look and visualize what you have to gain.

And, by all means, when you’ve hit the milestones, don’t forget to cash in on your reward. Celebrate. If you keep plodding on to the finish line without picking up energy boosts, then it may seem a lot further to go than the actual distance you have left to achieve success.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

Power Connects People

Side Effects of Holding Power

When you think about people who are strongly driven to acquire power, what kinds of things do you imagine they are after? Is power about having: influence over others, money, status, glory, independence, self-confidence?

Popular stories in our culture like to distinguish power seekers from relationship seekers—people whose primary motivation is to foster connections and intimacy with others. The power and relationship motives are usually depicted as incompatible, where power is achieved at the expense of having relationships. As prime examples, think about the main characters in films like Citizen Kane, Scarface, and The Social Network. These stories tell us that power seeking is driven by self-centered ambitions, and as long as this motive is strong, the relationship seeking motive will be weak.

We forget that the rewards of power and the rewards of relationships overlap. We forget that power connects people to one another, and the more powerful person usually reaps the rewards of these relationships. Having power means having favorable connections to others.

Imagine a typical power imbalance in the workplace. A company hires two people to run a newly-created department at the company: Mr. Alpha is brought in to head the new department and Mr. Beta is hired as second in command. Mr. Alpha is given the power to fire and/or promote Mr. Beta, making Mr. Beta dependent on Mr. Alpha’s approval. Their jobs have established this connection between them, and we can be fairly certain that their interactions will be more pleasant for Mr. Alpha than Mr. Beta. Mr. Beta will be more accommodating, deferential, and experience more anxiety about saying or doing the wrong things.

As it happens, Mr. Alpha has relocated from across the country to take this job, and feels isolated in his new city. Mr. Alpha’s not a bad guy, but he insists that he and Mr. Beta take all their coffee breaks and go out on all sales calls together, just so Mr. Alpha can have the interpersonal contact. Mr. Beta goes along without complaining. After a few weeks Mr. Alpha begins to feel less isolated in his surroundings, having established some camaraderie.

In power imbalances, the more powerful person can usually set the terms of the relationship and build rapport without much resistance. This may not create close authentic bonds, but don’t underestimate the appeal of casual interactions with people who are courteous and attentive to you. These interactions should be especially appealing to men, who tend to be more satisfied with shallow relationships than women.

The point is that these relationships can be rewarding, and ultimately strengthen the allure of power. For some people, the promise of social connections may even be the hidden force behind their desire for power, especially for people who have trouble establishing connections under normal circumstances.

So even though the search for power and relationships are often portrayed as competing goals, it’s rarely that simple. Selfish goals may navigate the pursuit of power, but the motivation to connect with others is stronger than it seems, stronger than even the seeker realizes.

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Published by Ilan Shrira

 

To Launch Your Business – Embrace Risk Taking

By learning what makes veteran entrepreneurs adept risk-takers, aspiring starters-up can get closer to taking the leap

By Monica Mehta

To evaluate the merits of their startup dream and strategize about its future, aspiring entrepreneurs can sweat out business plans and huddle with experts. To prepare for the emotional roller coaster of venturing out on their own, though, there’s little to do in advance. They must launch and learn on the fly. For those struggling to decide when to launch, insight from seasoned risk-takers and researchers who study them could speed the decision-making process.

For Andrew Ullman and Hayward Majors, co-founders of New York’s CollegeSolved.com, an online expert network for college admissions, taking the leap did not come easily. After hatching their idea in 2008, they kept their day jobs in corporate law and finance, conducting research and seeking industry input in their spare time. By February 2009, they had a well-researched business plan but lacked the confidence to pursue the venture full-time. “Despite having an opportunity in hand and some financial stability, it took the validation of creating a beta version of the website and raising capital from outsiders to get us comfortable with the [lifestyle] change,” says Ullman.

Like countless others before them, Ullman and Majors were adept at identifying risks but hadn’t learned to take them. “When it comes to taking risks, knowledge is a highly overrated motivator. Otherwise, we’d all buy low and sell high, and our kids would eat their vegetables,” says Dr. Frank Murtha, a behavioral psychologist in New York City who works with traders and specializes in financial risk-taking. He suggests that seizing opportunities when they arise and rolling with the punches requires a skill set few have mastered.

Chemicals in the Brain

In 2008 researchers at the University of Cambridge studied the risky decision-making abilities of entrepreneurs and corporate managers with similar IQs and experience levels using a battery of neurocognitive tests. They found (paywall alert) that the entrepreneurs consistently took riskier bets. The results show that risk-taking is both behavioral and physiological. The entrepreneurs not only scored higher on personality tests that measure impulsivity and flexibility; they also experienced a chemical response in the reward center of the brain that the managers did not.

While we have little control over our natural programming, it is possible to change behavior over time, as most therapists advocate. To offer aspiring entrepreneurs steps to take immediately, I compiled these tips:

Socialize with other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship rubs off. A study from Babson suggests that children of entrepreneurs are more likely to start businesses, as are those who know other small business owners. The inverse also holds. Risk aversion can be contagious, as Ullman and Majors experienced. “We always wanted to be entrepreneurs, but we were locked into lucrative jobs that were deemed acceptable by family and friends,” says Majors. Most large cities offer business meet-ups and other networking events where like minds gather.

Set yourself up for small successes. “Our brains are motivated by success to greater success,” says Dr. Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist and PhD of neuroeconomics who has written two books on financial risk-taking. Immediately after experiencing a victory, our neurons process information more effectively, we become sharper and learn faster. Set small goals, no more than three months in length. Even incorporating a hobby that sets you up for small successes can make a difference in your professional life. A personal aside: I’ve just given hubby the license to play World of Warcraft to sharpen his risk-taking prowess.

Have a whiskey sour. Who hasn’t attended a cocktail hour feeling intimidated by a room of unfamiliar faces? A drink can stimulate the impulsive side of your brain’s reward center and give you the courage to strike up a conversation. More isn’t always better when it comes to playing with brain chemistry, of course. For purposes of productive impulsivity, stick to just one.

Or skip the drink and try channeling your inner Richard Branson on your own. We are groomed to seek information when making decisions. Break the habit by practicing by yourself in an environment where your decisions will have few meaningful consequences. Order what instantly comes to mind in a restaurant, for example, then graduate to other arenas.

Have faith. “As much as knowledge is overrated, religion is underrated,” says Murtha. Taking a leap of faith is something every entrepreneur must do at some point or another. Having faith that everything will be O.K., whether it is derived from a spiritual belief or elsewhere, contributes to the willingness to be adaptable.

Choose a partner who possesses skills you don’t. If impulsivity and adaptability aren’t your strong suits, find a partner who already has what you don’t. Of course, don’t bring on a partner unless he or she adds value to the project beyond being able to roll with the punches.

Ullman and Majors quit their day jobs in September 2010 when it became clear investors were willing to commit. They closed the round in December, raising enough from friends and family to sustain the business for about two years, and finally launched CollegeSolved.com in early April. “After more than two years of planning, we thought we’d experience a huge relief post-launch,” says Majors. “But the party is only getting started.”

[Monica Mehta is managing principal of investment firm Seventh Capital in New York City. She has advised hundreds of small businesses over the past 15 years. .]

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Recognize a Winning Business Idea

To gauge future success, know how the concept will help the target market and whether it will fit into how those customers identify themselves

By Karen E. Klein

Which are the best business ideas: those that tap into our seven deadly sins, or those that fix a pain or solve a problem? —C.C., New York

The answer to your question depends on details such as your target market, production costs, and price point. For instance, take tax planning vs. wealth management. One is an essential service that sells at high volume to a wide audience, but at a price that can approach that of a commodity. The other sells to a smaller niche, but appeals to customers willing and able to pay more.

Another concept to mull is that wants and needs may not be so far apart. Indulging one’s greed or pride may be the flip side of solving a problem or stopping a pain, says Peter Sheahan, chief executive officer of ChangeLabs, an Australian business consulting firm with U.S. headquarters in Denver. “The problem is the pain,” he says, “and the pain is we want more of our seven deadly sins. All human desire comes from a form of dissonance—dissonance just being a fancy word for a gap, and a gap just being a metaphor for the space between where we are now and where we want to be.”

Traditionally, business ideas that solve problems seem to be most effective, although sometimes a new product or service solves a problem that people aren’t consciously aware of until they see the solution. Still, if you can identify the problem in a compelling fashion, your message may be easier to get across.

“I always feel like fixing a pain is best, since more people can really relate to that. They’ll be more willing to listen to your marketing message if you’re solving a problem or taking away their pain,” says Sarah Shaw, a consultant at Entreprenette.com.

Jordana Jaffe, a business consultant and life coach at Quarter Life Clarity, agrees that people are often so fixated on a nagging problem or annoyance that if you can fix it for them, your business will excite and empower them. “We’re always so consumed with what isn’t working in our lives,” she says. “When we’re introduced to the possibility of those things becoming easier for us as a result of this possible solution, life suddenly feels lighter and easier and more possible.”

Human Drives

Sheahan recommends that, rather than framing your business idea on the “sin vs. survival” scale, you should structure its appeal more around human drives, a term he derives from the evolutionary biology research of Paul R. Lawrence of Harvard Business School.

Lawrence talked about the universal human drives to acquire, to bond, to comprehend, and to defend. If you can tap into as many of those drives as possible with your product or service, you can predict how explosive your idea will be. “I once did a program with Sega tracking mega blockbuster video games over the last 20 years,” Sheahan says. “All of them had tapped into three of the four human drives.”

What’s most important with a business idea is to identify your target market and become as familiar with your potential clients as possible. “If you’re looking to sell to the high-end, luxury market, your product or service may be something that people might think of as indulging a sin. Just make sure your marketing matches your target market,” Shaw says.

You may have a choice of messages, depending on how you want to position your business idea. Does plastic surgery indulge the sin of vanity, or take away the pain of aging? Do decadent chocolates appeal to the sin of gluttony, or solve the problem of sugar cravings? Whichever way you go, make sure your brand appeals to your customers’ interest in defining themselves, Sheahan says. “Brands say something about us. Think Brooklyn Circus for those that want to be seen as on the fringe, consider Tom’s Shoes for those who want to be seen as evolved and empathetic, and think of Ralph Lauren for those that want to be preppy. What do those brands satisfy? Lust and pride, just to name two,” he says.

[Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.]

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

16 Steps to Write New Year’s Resolutions that Work

Are you wondering how some people can make New Year’s Resolutions and stick with them, while other people can’t or don’t or won’t even thing about writing them out, let alone completing them. Here’s how to be successful at following-through on the new you in the new year.

  1. Start thinking about what your short term goal is for the next year.
  2. Remember or come up with your 5 and 10 year goals.
  3. When you make your New Year’s Resolutions, make sure that they relate in some way to either your short term or long term goals. The reason behind this is to link your resolution into what naturally motivates you to pursue change. This also helps you keep your resolutions high on your priority list as well.
  4. Plan out 2012. On a calendar pencil in the BIG events for the year.
  5. Pick a day where you have space and time to think, plan, and write out your resolutions. Anticipate writing out your resolutions. Make it fun and memorable. Our bodies are wired to seek pleasure.
  6. Brainstorm and jot down the things you’d like to change or do more of in the next year.
  7. Next, look at your calendar to see how much time you have each month to devote to each of your resolutions. Estimate how many hours or days per week you can work on each resolution.
  8. Plan for wiggle room. We usually have a head’s up for when there are good stressors or life events such as births, weddings, birthdays, celebrations, etc. However, illnesses, deaths, accidents, layoffs, car troubles, are usually unexpected. Give yourself time and compassion to deal with these unforeseen events.
  9. Set start and end dates for each of your resolutions. Before you commit to due dates, read through and do steps 10-13 first.
  10. Next look at how far you think you’ll get with each resolution in the next 90 days. Define what you will have to do to accomplish that resolution in the next 3 months. Write each step out. It’s okay to have 10 to 20 steps.
  11. Then looking at your calendar, define how many of those steps you can do in the next 30 days.
  12. Before you commit to what steps you’ll do in the first 30 days, check-in with your calendar to see how much time you can devote for the next 4 weeks.
  13. Set weekly due dates with 1 or 2 days to allow for the unexpected.
  14. Remind yourself of when things are due. Set up reminders in your phone, with software, or online calendars.
  15. Tell someone what you’re planning to do.
  16. Ask someone to hold you accountable to follow-through on your resolution. Someone who does not want your time themselves, who can be objective, can offer feedback, ask the hard questions, and help you brainstorm how to trouble-shoot setbacks, loss of motivation, etc. will guarantee a higher level of commitment out of you to perform and accomplish what you’d like to change.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Effective Planning Is About What to Leave Out

posted by: John Jantsch

Today my staff and I are taking the entire day to create a strategic plan for the coming year. The process, and its ongoing nature, is something I call Commitment Planning. This is a practice that I highly recommend, but perhaps not for the reason you may assume.

But first, the rules

  • No one has a specific role today
  • Let brainstorming be brainstorming – possibilities and ideas
  • Be present
  • Be judgmental tomorrow
  • Remember, you are planning for the entire year

And, then my requirements

  • Food and drink should be awesome
  • Leave lots of time and space for physical movement
  • Make it easy to capture everything

Lots of companies completely neglect the need for planning and some that do it consistently view it as a way to determine new things they want to address in the year ahead.

To me, the greatest benefit of any planning session is to decide what not to do.

There’s always more to do than you can possibly get done and what happens all too often is that we give a little attention to a lot of things and effectively water down what should be our priorities.

When we plan the right way, we look long and hard at what makes us money and (hopefully) find ways to focus on doing more of that better, rather than thinking up more of something to divert our attention.

I recently hired my own business coach and one of the first things we’re focused on is getting me to stop doing things that don’t make sense and start spending more concentrated time on my highest payoff activities.

This idea holds true for entire organizations as well and one of the best ways to get to the heart of what’s holding you back is planning.

The first planning principle you must embrace however, is that the goal of the process is to help you limit what you are going to do and do well. Instead of creating a laundry list of wants and dreams, your charge in the planning process is to create a very small list of objectives and goals grounded in the overriding purpose of the business. Everyone in the organization then must commit to this list. From your small list you can carve out a requisite number of strategies and tactics that support these business objectives.

In fact, your aim is to create a total plan outline that fills no more than one sheet of paper. (No 6pt type allowed.)

Note also that we’re not spending the day to make a business plan or create a marketing plan – plans aren’t the secret, planning is. It’s the continuous process of planning, acting, measuring and planning that moves the organization in the direction of its goals.

Using and teaching a continuous planning process like this is one of the ways you empower your staff to know they are taking right action on the most important things at all times and knowing this brings a confidence that in itself is a commitment generator.

Commitment planning is a management style that frees your people to be creative instead of forcing them to be bound by a process only system driven activity.

Planning is not a one-day event or even year-end activity. Sure, there may be certain time bound planning periods that occur naturally, say at the end of a quarter, but the real way to keep commitment alive is to live it through a creative process that allows everyone to focus on the things that matter most.

Ben McConnell, coauthor of the Church of the Customer Blog and principal of management consulting firm Ant’s Eye View, has written about a planning process he calls OGST (Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Tactics.)

What I love about McConnell’s framework is that he uses each of these planning words in ways so simple as to actually create a useful set of definitions for these ridiculously misused terms.

Go get this visual representation of OGST and I think you’ll see what I mean.

As you can see, a planning process like this can help the kind of simple clarity that is so often missing in the “what should we do next” business management style. We borrow heavily from McConnell’s framework add some of our own magic to help put the focus on results and bust through constraints.

No matter what exact process you use for planning, with a one page plan full of your committed priorities in hand you can analyze any idea in about two seconds and determine if you should pursue it or dismiss it. Focusing on your strengths and finding ways to turn them into even greater assets is how individuals and organizations realize their potential.

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What if your business partner wants to break up?

By Jeff Haden

Setting up a business partnership is a little like starting a romantic relationship, although admittedly the benefits package and perks are a lot different.

In the beginning stages it’s easy to only focus on the positives, but a solid partnership agreement also takes into account a number of scenarios, especially the potential for negative outcomes. If the worst does happen, your partnership agreement should protect both you and your partner.

Make sure your partnership agreement covers what will happen if:

One of you wants out. Exit clauses are standard in partnership agreements. For example, if you want out, your partner may be obligated to purchase your ownership share.

That’s the easy part. The tricky part is determining the value of the business when that happens. Business valuation is part science, part art, and different approaches often result in very different results. Whether you agree to use liquidation value, book value, or the income, asset, or market approaches, stipulate in your partnership agreement how the business will be valued and whether a third party will conduct the valuation. Then the breakup will be a lot cleaner and less emotional.

One of you passes away. Say your partner dies. Typically his or her ownership stake passes to the spouse or children. You automatically get new partners — new partners you may not want. A buy-sell agreement can allow you to purchase your deceased partner’s share, but what if you don’t have the money or can’t get financing?

There’s an easy solution: Stipulate that each partner will carry life insurance sufficient to cover the purchase of the other partner’s share. Each partner designates the other partner as beneficiary. Then, if your partner passes away, you always have the funds to complete the buy-sell agreement. Just make sure you add additional coverage as the value of your business grows.

One of you wants to change the agreement. Paul Allen claimed Bill Gates asked him to change their ownership split of Microsoft several times. Perspectives change as a business evolves, and partnership agreements can be amended as often as you like — as long as all partners agree.

Sometimes one of you might not agree to proposed changes, so stipulate how fundamental disagreements will be resolved: Mediation, arbitration, triggering a buy-sell clause, etc. Knowing how a problem will eventually be resolved if you aren’t able to agree often makes it easier to work through differences.

You can no longer get along. No matter how well you work together now, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and changing priorities can damage the best relationships. When that happens, falling back on the terms of your partnership agreement can help both of you stay objective.

For example, your partnership agreement may stipulate you are responsible for 60% of the work since your partner provided a greater share of initial capital. If he feels you aren’t doing your share, the more clearly you defined what “the work” means in your agreement, the easier it is to determine whether you are in fact pulling your weight. Whenever possible, use hours, numbers, dollars — quantifiable measurements.

Your business is already established. If the agreement you have is insufficient — or if you don’t have a written agreement — it’s not too late.

Take a step back and create a comprehensive partnership agreement. If your partner hesitates, explain you aren’t trying to change your current working conditions. All you’re trying to do is eliminate as many ways you might disagree in the future as possible.

Fortunately, talking about potential negatives with a potential business partner is a lot easier than having a similar discussion with a romantic partner. Setting up a prenuptial agreement may not be the greatest way to start a relationship, but setting up a comprehensive written partnership agreement is the perfect way to start a business partnership.

 

The ROI of Executive Coaching

How investing in one individual can transform an organization

by Margaret Gomez, BlessingWhite Executive Coach and Strategist, and David Hagerty, BlessingWhite Regional Vice President and Executive Coaching Practice Leader

When designing organizational change programs, we have many possible approaches. One powerful tool is executive coaching, and BlessingWhite increasingly incorporates targeted one-on-one coaching as part of organization-wide development initiatives.

While this approach may appear to be a significant investment at first glance — after all you are working with just one individual at a time — executive coaching has a deceptively high return-on-investment.

This is because a targeted investment in select individuals at the top can have a profound transformational effect across the whole organization. And when coaching is combined with formal leadership training, the impact on changed behavior of the executive is dramatic — nearly 4 times greater — increasing behavior change from 22% to 80% (Olivero, Bane, & Kopelman, 1997).

The power of executive coaching comes from its customized approach and ability to flex with the unique needs of each client. Effective executive coaching weaves personal development with the explicit needs of the business, and it delivers a far-reaching impact on the organization’s culture.

A Measurable Strategy

32% of coaches responding to a 2009 Harvard Business Review< survey indicated that the ability to measure ROI was very important when hiring a coach, and 61% ranked clear methodology as very important.

The Hudson Institute, a pioneer in coach training and seminal thinking, finds that organizations are investing more in one-on-one coaching than in traditional training because the ROI is much easier to track. Recent workplace research provides some useful benchmarks. The International Coach Federation’s 2009 Global Coaching Client Study reported a median return of 7 times the initial investment. 19% indicated a measured ROI of at least 5,000%. The Manchester Review study calculated ROI of 5.7 times the initial investment in coaching. 75% of the sample surveyed indicated the value of coaching was “considerably greater” or “far greater” than the money and time invested.

And while a 2010 Conference Board Coaching Study confirmed that most formal program evaluation occurs in larger organizations, smaller ones can also greatly benefit from executive coaching.

Measurement, Method, a Contract and some Standards

Pam McLean, CEO of The Hudson Institute, emphasizes the importance of foundational building blocks to ensure a strong ROI — a strong coaching methodology and effective contracting up front. She says, “Standards are another key ingredient. Data from stakeholder interviews and feedback other than from the leaders we are coaching help fortify the contract and track results that matter.”

As Pam points out, a big component of ensuring a strong ROI sits with the coach. Her message to coaches: “If you cannot measure ROI, you are not clear on the work you are doing.”

Lisa Ann Edwards, head of Talent Management at Corbis and founder of Bloom Coaching Institute, concurs: “Reporting back on a high ROI is less important than the accountability afforded by measuring ROI.”

Stakeholders, says Lisa, are more interested in knowing whether coaching accomplished the goals aligned with the business objectives, that behavior changed and that the change in behavior resulted in improved business impact.

She adds: “Key to the approach is to shift from an activities-based approach to a results-based approach. Better alignment of coaching to business results is a great start to ensuring that the coaching work is effective.”

Driving Leadership Behaviors

Over at H4B Chelsea, a unit of Havas Worldwide Health, Christian Bauman (Managing Director, Chief Creative Officer) was one of several executives to receive coaching as part of an initiative to establish common leadership behaviors across companies under shared leadership.

“Executive Coaching has been extraordinarily helpful to me and my role and my company. We were working together as I was transitioning into a new and larger role as well as preparing for another step up. Coaching was a critical help to think through problems, tackle things externally and prioritize. It enabled me to take informed action and see avenues of opportunity I had not considered before. Coaching benefited the company’s success as this was dependent on my success.”

“We move very, very quickly in our organization and sometimes we need to move people into roles fast. […] You identify people for new roles and they have to be equipped and ready to sink or swim. If they sink, their company sinks with them. Coaching helped me learn quickly, in weeks and months, what I would have taken longer to learn on my own. Coaching hyper-accelerated my development.”

“It is very motivating that the company cares about your future and it helps keep me here.”

“A year ago, when the promotion was broached to me, it was through my conversations with my coach that I was able to pull all the elements apart and see where I could be most successful.”

“By interacting with the coaches of others I was working closely with, it solidified how I could work better with them. Instead of vague feelings, I identified and quantified the parts which were about me and for which I needed to take responsibility. We’ve become stronger than ever in a shorter amount of time.”

Impacting others

Another coaching success story is The Dreyfus Corporation, where BlessingWhite executive coaching was a key component within an established, successful and well-respected leadership development program for BNY Mellon Asset Management.

Noreen Ross (EVP, Director of Marketing) describes the coaching as “absolutely transformational. One of the most simple, yet valuable, things was that it changed my mindset on how I show up for meetings — motivated and prepared — not just walking in and winging it.”

Noreen’s meetings with her manager have improved as well. “Our discussions are much more real and productive. Before, I would present a topic from both points of view and wait to get a mood read before I put out my POV. Now, I’m more confident and willing to put my opinion on the table and stand up to the debate.”

“One of the more tangible results of my coaching was that it helped identify a gap in our organization, which was a growing source of frustration for me and my senior staffers. Working with my coach, we developed a ‘Marketing Council’ which serves as a formal decision-making body between Sales and Marketing. This takes much of the guesswork out of what we do which leads to more consistent results.”

“I also have learned the value of strong leadership, and how it helps influence employees and bring them to the next level.” As an example, Noreen points to more productive goal-setting sessions: “I’ve asked each of my staff members to come prepared to discuss the next phase of their career, and now we work toward that. This gives us a better framework for discussion and enables me to provide targeted and valuable feedback.”

“We hyper-advanced the development of our employees by my being a stronger leader and mentor.”

The Dreyfus Corporation gave one person leadership lessons and executive coaching and, says Noreen, “I impact 50 people. Think of the multiples from that. They made that investment in me and the way it cascades throughout the organization is phenomenally powerful. There’s the ROI!”

This sums it up for Noreen: “I’ve had the ruby slippers on all the time and only now do I know how to use the power!”

Who We Are and What We Do

In our final example we look at BNY Mellon Asset Management. Here is where a Leadership Development Program designed and led by Dave DeFilippo, Chief Learning Officer, helps leaders reframe their role in service of their people. This represents a shift in the way they think about their jobs and a focus on “how they get stuff done.” Another emphasis is about leaders becoming comfortable in their own skin — “showing up at work actually congruent with who I am.”

Dave summarizes: “We have found that designing coaching engagements that are strength-based, outcome-oriented and individually tailored to be the most effective combination. Having a partner with the coaching acumen and worldwide capabilities that BlessingWhite offers has been game changing.”

A Proven Approach

Gone are the days when executive coaching was perceived as elitist entitlement or perk for the top-of-the-house. Today it is recognized as an effective organizational development tool that can be deployed as a stand-alone or as part of a concerted change program to accelerate the impact of a development initiative. Its flexibility as a tool and its proven ROI make it a compelling approach in the design of culture change activities, both to the benefit of the coachee and the organization at large.

Our special thanks to:

Lisa Ann Edwards, head of Talent Management for Corbis (Bill Gates’ privately owned global media company) and founder of Bloom Coaching Institute. She has authored, co-authored, and contributed to books on ROI and has provided a POV from her expertise on ROI.

Dave DeFilippo, Chief Learning Officer, BNY Mellon Asset Management, and Leadership Development Program leader. He provided insights and a POV on the importance of ROI in coaching engagements.

Noreen Ross, EVP, Director of Marketing at The Dreyfus Corporation, a unit of BNY Mellon, and
Christian Bauman, Managing Director, Chief Creative Officer, H4B Chelsea, a unit of Havas Worldwide Health. They generously provided a window into their experience and ROI from their respective BlessingWhite executive coaching programs.

Dr. Pamela McLean is co-founder and CEO of The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, one of the earliest and most eminent coaching schools to emerge in the 90s. She generously provided her POV, insights, and a cache of information for this article. pam.mclean@hudsoninstitute.com


Margaret A. Gomez, MCC, SPHR, BlessingWhite Executive Coach and Strategist. Margaret built her career in the talent management and development arena through senior leadership roles at global corporations and innovation leaders. These include Scali, McCabe, Sloves, The Olsten Corporation, and branding and advertising agencies at Omnicom and Interpublic. She is particularly skilled at navigating complex, demanding work systems, cultures, and transitions. Margaret received her formal coaching training at The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara and is based in New York. mgomez@bwincconsulting.com
David Hagerty, Regional Vice President and Executive Coaching Practice Leader for BlessingWhite, is based in Boston. He is responsible for shaping BlessingWhite’s POV around Executive Coaching, sourcing its broad network of coaches globally, and helping match these coaches with Blessing White’s clients’ leadership development needs. david.hagerty@blessingwhite.com

 

Copyright © 2011 BlessingWhite, Inc.

Strengths-Based Teamwork

Successful business ventures often rely on the communication savvy of everyone involved in the deal. Relying on one person to lead or motivate a group leads to: reduced functionality if that person is absent, a stressful environment, unhealthy communication patterns, and increased conflicts. We all come from different backgrounds and families. What’s amazing is how we come together as a team to produce finished products. Here are 3 ways you can set yourself and your team up for success. They all involve self-reflection, greater self-awareness, and implementation of new skills based on both your and others’communication strengths.

  1. 1.       Use DISC Profiling to Rephrase Your Wants

DISC is an inventory that is taken specifically with the work environment in mind. It identifies your adapted behavior in the workplace, as well as your natural style. Bringing in someone to facilitate taking the DISC profile and interpreting the results with your team adds value to how well your team interacts with one another.

One of the fun things I did at the last corporate DISC training was to ask each participant what their pet peeve was (instead of what words to avoid or not to use) in regards to how other’s communicate with them. We also spent a great deal of time on what does work for each participant. We collated everyone’s results in a table for easy reference back in the office. During team training that teaches you communication skills, you learn more than just tendencies or preferences, you get to implement the knowledge right away, which ensures that you retain this information for later use.

It is critical to know that the greater awareness you have of your style and how to adapt how you communicate with others in the group based on their style is what sets you and your team apart from other groups operating by chance alone. Doing DISC as a group allows everyone to see patterns and how objectively to make changes in the way they speak and interact so the strengths of all team members are utilized rather than just the more extroverted or dominant communication and personality styles.

  1. 2.       Understand Gender Communication Differences

While DISC identifies your adapted and natural communication styles, going one step further to understand how men and women prefer to communicate leads to even greater results.

  • Men tend to use communication to solve problems.
  • Women tend to use communication to connect.

For example, at work—a woman’s natural inclination to take into account how a decision affects all parties involved both short and long term. Calling on this strength during a sale or when weighing options ensures greater logistical planning than a more single-minded approach. Calling on a man’s inclination to either solve a dilemma, or shelve for later is helpful in keeping negotiations focused with the end in sight.

Mars Venus Coaches in your area can facilitate DISC trainings for your organization and offer free Stress Management Seminars and workshops geared to getting what you want at work and gender differences in selling and buying. If you’re pressed for time you can also read the following online articles or take aneWorkshop too!

  1. 3.       Practice Conflict Resolution Skills

It is critical to know that under stress, we tend to do two things:

  • We revert to our natural DISC style—graph II, not our adapted DISC style—graph I. This is because under stress it is harder to mask our natural preferences for communicating.
  • We become more like our gender, because of our physiology and the way blood flows in our brains according to our sex.

Therefore, utilizing an objective observer or a facilitator that interprets how you work as a team is more helpful, then just reading about it or studying these skills alone.

The following are the 3 steps to conflict resolution and what primary DISC gravitates to each of the steps.

1. CREATE SPACE. S’s bring all views, ideas and opinions into dialogue.

Change location to a neutral place

-Use active listening to explore rather than condemn opposing views

Take breaks often to cool off during negotiations

2. ADD VALUE. C/I’snaturally use their skills to add value and make sure all voices are heard.

Cs (Ts) add value by generating logical alternativesto the conflict issues

Is (Fs) add value by creating options for growthfor all parties so no one leaves feeling empty handed

3. SEEK CLOSURE. D’s ensure an end result.

agree on decision principles before making decisions (i.e. equal input)

-take one step at a time and define the steps

-once steps are outlined and decided upon, close the book on conflict

The bottom line is to turn what you learn into translatable skills. Learning communication and resiliency skills that focus on your strengths enable you to stay present in the moment. When you are able to operate continually from this place of presence, then you will find there are no fights, conflicts will decrease, and both your productivity and efficiency will improve. If your entire team can identify what best works for them and how to adapt to other people’s preferences, then the climate and culture at work will cease to feel like “work,” and more like play—just like it felt as a kid on the playground at recess playing kickball.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations