Leaders: Are You Coachable?

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In my consulting and coaching business, I often ask the question “are you coachable?” It is amazing how many times the prospect says “well, yes I believe I am.” After a few sessions with input and feedback, it becomes apparent they really are not coachable. How do I know? It manifests itself in many ways.

Business owners and professionals at all levels sometimes struggle with being coached. Success and achievement creates a false sense of not having any need for change. If you are getting results, why interrupt the methods that got you there? That may be a good mindset in the short run, but long term success requires growth.

To find good examples of being coachable we can look directly at athletics where the concept of coach and student are most notable. When you explore the story of the truly great athletes (think Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice), you will find stories of tireless pursuit of perfection. Regardless of the season they just had, these guys worked relentlessly to improve their stamina, skills, and techniques.

Recently Jerry Rice, football great and now, NFL Hall of Famer, was being interviewed. He was on the driving range at a celebrity golf outing. Rather than merely slap some golf balls around, he was on the range with both his caddy and a coach. When shots were not going the right place he was asking for guidance and advice. Golf isn’t even his game, yet the discipline of looking to perfect a skill was at work. His desire to do well at whatever endeavor was before him drove his will to be better. That’s being coachable.

Here are the a few thoughts about deciding if you are truly coachable.

  1. Do you routinely seek advice and counsel to improve some aspect of your professional or personal life? Or have you learned it all and know it all? Being open to the pursuit of growth as a professional is key. The best individuals in any aspect of life will be constantly trying to improve. Whether that includes technical knowledge, insight, or wisdom, the effort is there. Those who excel believe there is always more to learn or be.

  2. When you get advice do you act on it; following through with using the information to achieve more? Or do you discount the information and talk yourself out of action? Using what you learn is important. In leadership, it takes practice. Once you learn and understand a skill, you must apply it to your tool kit. By using your newly found understanding, you help to create confidence in its worth. Just as athletes work to build muscle memory for critical physical moves, leaders can build “influence memory” to work to their advantage.

  3. Do you seek follow-up from the coach to be sure you understood the coaching and that you are properly performing the actions that were recommended? Or do you move on without ever doubling back for refining advice? Even the best coaches require feedback from the client to know whether the teaching and training is working. Be proactive in giving that feedback to your coach. When you realize you are working on a new dimension of your training, open up the communication with the coach. Let them know what feels right or needs better explanation.

Make Your Decision

If your current professional or personal situation is not producing the results you expect, then perhaps some coaching is needed. But before you simply engage a coach, ask yourself whether you are truly coachable.

Here’s a Proven 6 Step Way to Manage a Career Change

Making a successful career change can be as easy as following six critical steps. I call it STRIVE.

 

Over 4,500 of my professional clients have used this model for their own job search success. It has been presented in numerous workshops and forums. In the next few pages, you will be guided through these steps.

strive-2016Here we go….. Step #1…..

SURVEY

If you find yourself between jobs, the first thing most people do is sit down and bang out a resume. That’s a horrible place to start. (That is of course unless you change jobs every six months or so.)

No, in order to be successful at job search, you need a solid base; a firm footing from which you gather thoughts and ideas about your search. Therefore, STRIVE Step 1 is to SURVEY.

Survey your prior Success, your Passions, and your Talents. Everyone has achieved something noteworthy. Whether you are just starting out trying to build a career or have 30+ years of experience, there are successes along the way that need to be highlighted and amplified.

Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Build a list of key achievements and successes. Try to identify the “resulting in” effects of those achievements. Tie the final outcome to the task or event. The statement looks something like this:

“I was manager of a sales team that increased national sales 45% resulting in a net $10,000,000 earnings increase for the year”.

Let this list become an inventory of juicy nuggets of key accomplishments that will be the fruit from which you feed to power your search.

Survey also includes locking down on the focus of your attention. What do you really want to do next? You must be firmly rooted with an answer to that essential question. While you look at your accomplishment list, think about which items were exciting and rewarding versus those that got done, but you hope you never do again.

And yes, this is the time to rekindle passions for life accomplishments that may be unfulfilled. I realize financial necessity gets in the way, but if you’re between jobs, why not give yourself the momentary grace to get back in touch with some passion or fire that can fuel your next chapter of work?

TARGET

Take the survey information and the design you created in Step 1, and then create a TARGET.

Most job search planners tell you that you must focus your search. That is definitely true. Targeting means you are not going to market with a vague and slippery explanation like “I can do that too.” With targeting, you have a specific, identifiable landing zone you want to achieve.

Setting a targeted list gives your job search a framework and a way to be accountable for the effort.

Turn your successes, skills, and passions into a set of functions that you might want to perform on a daily basis. Then formulate a job description that includes all of those functions. Once you have your own job description of your dream job, you can begin to research the companies that need those types of jobs.

Targeting also gives you purpose. Being able to speak in specific targeted terms allows you to talk boldly with family, friends, and colleagues who may be able to help you with new opportunities; those around you can “get it”. They will have a better understanding of what you are trying to do. Empowered with that knowledge, others can do more to help in your job search.

RÉSUMÉ

Now and ONLY now can you begin to write the proper resume to tell your story.

Use a resume format that highlights the key accomplishments. Start your resume story with what you can do for the employer. You cannot assume anything in telling your story. YOU need to fill in all the blanks for the reader. List your prior employment history only after you have first gotten the reader’s attention with a “Here’s what I will do for you today” objective statement. Build a personal BRAND.

36762097 - job interview concept with business cv resumeHighlight a select list of 3 to 5 accomplishments right near the top of the resume will grab the reader’s attention. The obituary style (Chronology) of prior employment is super boring, but needed to simply prove you’ve had a run at doing the things you featured in the accomplishments.

Yes, you will need to flex your resume depending on the target company. A one size resume does not fit all. Use different accomplishments depending upon the target you are connecting to.

The resume must pop with your story, explaining what you can do for them. Remember, the target company has a need you can fill, but you have to lead the reader of the resume through the story. You can never assume any conclusion about what may come from your resume. Get others to read it before you submit it ‘Live’. Adjust the story based on how well it seems to be received by others.

INTERACT

To maximize your job search success, you need to think “INTERACTION”. This is where networking comes in.

Networking by itself is not the answer. Networking alone, just for the sake of going out and meeting people can become a big waste of time. You have to think Interaction. Begin building high trust relationships that last.

Ask yourself “am I really suited to be a long term part of this networking group?” Can I find value here and can I give value too? Get involved in industry groups and professional gatherings that are fits for your targets and your passions. Pay it forward!

When you attend an event, have some goals set to do things like “meet 5 CFOs” or “meet 3 new recruiters”.

As you talk with people, ask engaging questions that allow them to talk. Studies show you become more memorable based on what people felt about the way you made them feel. Having them talk about themselves helps to build that bridge. It seems counter-intuitive; I mean you are there to get a job right? Rather than dominating the discussion talking about yourself, get to know others first.

VALUE PROPOSITION

Build value in the story you are telling. Companies today need people who can contribute a positive outcome to their performance.

In this step we begin to prepare for the job interview. The sooner you can explain and present a solid value statement to a potential employer, the faster you will be considered for hire.

Help the hiring manager understand the value you can bring to the table. Include this in all aspects of your job search. Focus your personal story on the specialized and incredibly valuable contribution you believe you can make.

Landing your next job does require some sales skills. If selling something has never been a talent for you, learn how to tell your story with a brand value in mind. Shift your thinking to look at yourself as a brand rather than a job candidate. Your experience and job history should give you the right ammunition to use for building a strong brand.

ENGAGE

This last step is perhaps the toughest. Here we assume you have landed the new job.

The question now becomes “how are you going to go about keeping the new job?” You must create a plan to carry through all of the great and wonderful things you have sold the employer. Build a specific plan of action to engage and embrace the new company, your co-workers, and managers with positive outcome.

Set your standard of performance early and stick to it. Prove to the new team that you are the best hiring decision they have made.

In the HR world, there is a saying:

“We hire on skills and fire on behavior.”

Your behavior at the new job is a big part of success in the job. Get engaged with the team around you and the environment within the company. Learn things, understand things, and then do the things that fit.

CONCLUSION

STRIVE is a clear and concise way to plan for your job search. It provides constant reminders for every aspect of the search. Use the handy checklist in the Appendix of the eBook I am offering here to grade yourself on the search.

And remember, with STRIVE you can Thrive!

 

HERE’S HOW TO GET A FREE COPY OF MY NEW BOOK

It’s a little hard to believe, but my new book, The Uncommon Commodity: A Common Sense Guide for New Managers, is almost here. I wrote it to help new, first time managers be more successful in making the transition into management and leadership.

All too often, well-meaning executives pick the brightest performer or highest producing worker to be the team lead, yet these people have little if any understanding of what it takes to become a manager. This book will help accelerate the smooth transition.

You can find out more about it here. I’m confident this book will make a huge impact in the lives of those who read it. It will help YOU make a difference!

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I’m also confident we can’t launch this book successfully without you. That’s why we are actively recruiting an Uncommon Commodity Launch Team to help us spread the news. If you’d like a chance to join, click here.

There are a number of benefits for joining up. As a launch team member, you’ll receive:

  • A complimentary physical review copy via mail (sorry, U.S. residents only).
  • Exclusive access to a private Facebook group where we’ll interact, strategize, and share ideas.
  • A special thirty-minute group phone session with me prior to the launch of the book.
  • And more!

There are a few requirements to help us leverage everyone’s involvement. Team members must:

  • Read the book ASAP upon receipt.
  • Provide feedback and engage with us via Facebook or email.
  • Write a brief book review on Amazon and/or some other retailer site. Pro or con, you decide!
  • Help spread the word about the book in any way you can, to your existing platform and beyond.
  • Share ideas and brainstorm additional ways we might further expose the message to an even greater audience. All ideas are welcome.

Here’s how the selection process works. First, make sure you’re signed up. You can do that here.

Next, on Wednesday, May 25th, we’ll select 300 applicants. We’ll pull these names randomly from all submissions to be a part of the team. And you won’t have long to wait. We’ll notify members via email by end of day on May 27th.

Thank you so much for your willingness to join in! The Uncommon Commodity is going to help countless people improve their work as a manger. And your participation in our launch efforts can help make it happen.

[reminder]What difference can you make by joining our launch team? [/reminder]

6 Reasons Change Is So Challenging

It’s no coincidence that the word ‘change’ fits into the word ‘challenge’. Change is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or unpredictable.

We all face changes in our lives. Whether on a personal level or at work, change is inevitable.

By taking a deeper dive into the dynamics of the human change process, we can better understand our reluctance to change or the steps where the change process breaks.

For most people, it’s not the idea of change itself that is so daunting, but rather the transition phases of the cycle where there is nothing to hold on to. Think about the last time you faced a serious change. Then look at this diagram and ask yourself how you moved through each phase.

Here is a diagram that shows the 6 stages of change.

change-cycle1

Stage 1 follows immediately after change has taken place. It is characterized by feelings of loss and fear. Those affected by the change are likely to feel paralyzed and disempowered by the change that has taken place.

Stage 2 is a period of negative thought and doubt. Individuals tend to feel resentful of the change that has occurred and they will actively resist embracing the change around them.

Stage 3 is a passive stage characterized by feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Those affected by the change are likely to be unproductive and feel as if they are powerless to determine the outcome of events.

The danger zone in the change cycle lies between stages three and four. Change management is essential to ensure that individuals make the transition from stage three to stage four.

Stage 4 signals a shift to positive thinking surrounding change. A creative atmosphere surfaces and participants are likely to feel energized and excited about new possibilities.

Stage 5 brings greater understanding of the change process. Productive behavior returns and participants feel greater confidence about the change that has occurred.

Stage 6 refers to the final integration of change into the new way of working. Because participants understand the necessity of the change that has taken place, there is a feeling of satisfaction and a commitment to ensure full integration.

Change management is the facilitation of a structured period of transition from a current, as-is state to a future situation in order to achieve sustainable change.

Effective change management ensures that change takes place within predictable parameters, without causing unnecessary confusion or anxiety. Click here to see how we can help you manage change.

* Diagram source: SMC Group

Portions reproduced by special permission from ProjectXChange

Is Common Sense an Uncommon Commodity?

While researching some new management and leadership material recently, I was struck by a regular, recurring theme in the reviews of numerous books I found. The books were all centered around my passion for helping first time managers. The search had me looking for better ways to guide each of you towards better success and happier endings.

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Read moreIs Common Sense an Uncommon Commodity?

Do YOU have a Career “Plan B” Ready?

Being a coach for business managers and leaders often gets me into discussions about career transition. While I do not focus on that topic as a primary service, I stay very much in touch with it.

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On one hand, I do have a passion for those who find themselves in job change. In 2008, when the financial crisis hit the U.S. and unemployment rates hit long-time highs, I created a regional career transition and job search organization (non-denominational, faith based non-profit) that served over 4,500 clients before we closed it in 2014.

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So I pay close attention to articles and posts from recruiters and placements professionals I still know. The job market has changed a lot and continues to evolve. Some say that today, we don’t even know the job titles that will be in the market five years from now, so you might ask ‘how can I stay ready for a job change’?

One particular article caught my eye. Top Echelon, an Ohio based service company that supports recruiters and placement professionals, published the following blog post:

We recently conducted a poll of the Top Echelon Network Membership, one that addressed this important issue for recruiters. Below is the question that we posed in this poll:

How educated do you believe your clients are about hiring in today’s market?

Results:

The choice of answers that we provided is listed below, along with the percentage of recruiters who selected each one:

Very educated—11.5%

Somewhat educated—69.2%

Not educated at all—19.2%

Summary:

By far, the most popular answer was “somewhat educated” at over 69%, while “not educated at all” was second at nearly 20%. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 11.5% of recruiters responded “Very educated” in describing their clients.  With so few of the clients on top of current market trends (at least according to this poll), a need clearly exists for recruiters to help educate their clients.

Coming from a group who has the job of helping candidates land placement (i.e. recruiters), I found these stats to be particularly alarming. So I raise the question, would YOU, as a potential placement candidate, consider yourself ‘well educated’? By this I mean prepared for job change?

If not, what are some of the things you might need to do so that you become better prepared? Here is my list of recommendations.

Accomplishments

Do you have a live, ever-green list of work related accomplishments ready for sharing with your next possible interviewer? The reason this accomplishments list is so vital is that it tells a value proposition story. NO employer cares what you think is important. They want to get to the bottom of how you will make them money or save them money; nothing else.

You can show them this valuable merit by listing solid, meaningful accomplishments like:

  • I created a filing system that saved 100 man hours per month.
  • I processed 3,000 payrolls checks per pay period for 18 months with zero errors.
  • I was reasonable for a $10 million gross revenue increase in Q2.

Perpetually grow this list. If you never started one, get it going now. Then add to it as achievements occur. These kinds of accomplishments will usually get an interviewer’s attention real fast.

Research

Become informed about the potential employer. Do more than just Googling the company (do that too, but add to it). Gather some in-depth market intelligence by reaching out to current or former employees via LinkedIn. Get connected with them and ask questions about their experience. If you build and maintain a robust network on LinkedIn, you can easily grab this intel as you need to by asking your contacts who and what they know.

Industry Knowledge

Stay abreast of hot things happening in your industry. Become your own guru about hot topics, new breakthroughs, and meaningful developments. Become conversant in those topics. This is great for the moment when you get that interview segue where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Use what you learn to be ready to talk about the big developments. Here’s an example.

The whole oil and gas community is under pressure from the drop in global oil price per barrel. If this is your industry, what does a drop of every $5 per barrel mean to the segment you serve? Refinery people are happy. Production people are not. Why? Be able to discuss these forces in more depth. Every industry has comparable hot topic issues that deserve more than casual lip service and use of buzz words about the basic issue(s).

Be Ready

Business today moves at lightning speed. Companies get bought and sold, markets shift, and change happens. NEVER get caught by surprise when your company or department somehow becomes the target of a downsize or elimination. Heck, even management turnover causes change in the rank and file employee pool. Be ready; have your Plan B warm and fresh at all times.

[reminder]Leave a comment about ways you stay prepared for job change.[/reminder]

Read moreDo YOU have a Career “Plan B” Ready?

It’s My Job….Really?

I love a good song ballad. Jimmy Buffett is one of the best story tellers in his songs. Oh sure, there are many pieces in his work that are just silly, but then there are jewels that slide by if you are not paying attention.
Courtesy 123rf.com
This one caught my ear. Jimmy takes a very important subject and makes you think. “It’s My Job” was released in 1981. It talks about the contrast that can be seen in the way people look at their jobs. Here are the words:

“It’s My Job”

In the middle of late last night I was sittin’ on a curb
I didn’t know what about but I was feeling quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin’ by, he was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt
So I asked him while he swept

He said, “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me”

Got an uncle who owns a bank, he’s a self-made millionaire
He never had anyone to love, never had no one to care
He always seemed kind of sad to me
So I asked him why that was
And he told me it’s because, in my contract there’s a clause

That says, “It’s my job to be worried half to death
And that’s the thing people respect in me
It’s a job but without it I’d be less
Than what I expect from me”

I’ve been lazy most all of my life
Writing songs and sleeping late
Any manual labor I’ve done is purely by mistake
If street sweepers can smile then
I’ve got no right to feel upset, but sometimes I still forget

Till the lights go on and the stage is set
And the song hits home and you feel that sweat

It’s my job to be different than the rest
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
And that’s a tough break for me

It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
And that makes the day for me

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/jimmy-buffett/it-s-my-job-lyrics/#HD6yYpbLQC3YcLSX.99

I believe the contrast told in this story includes the lowly street sweeper versus the big banker. One would think the banker was happy and fulfilled while the street sweeper was discouraged and downtrodden.

Yet, the street sweeper had a remarkable happiness about his work though some would say it was a nasty, dirty job. The banker had a ‘respectable’ job, but was miserable.

I see a few lessons in this piece.

1. Who you are cannot be defined by what you do. Yes, who you really are should not be defined by what you do. The street sweeper had a very healthy sense of self. He found pride in doing his work because it was needed.

The banker let contracts define who he was going to be, and he wasn’t happy about it.

2. True happiness is not a function of the job title you hold. One of life’s greatest challenges is the ability to find happiness and encouragement despite your physical circumstances.

3. You get to choose. The funny thing about happiness is that you get to choose. In most situations I have ever encountered, my own happiness was mostly a function of what I chose to feel. In the darkest of days, I can still choose to have a happy face.

When I have success, of course it becomes easier to feel happy. However, like the banker, I might find a reason to be sad about my success. I need to choose to NOT do that.

4. It IS your job in this life to be different. I love the idea of being different. So many people struggle with that. The Bible tells us we are “uniquely and wonderfully made”. It has never made any sense to me why I would want to blend in and fit into someone else’s mold for me. NO! Be different. Make a difference!

I hope you have a reason to look at your job differently. There are so many ways we can wake up each day and make a difference in someone’s life. It should never be a function of what job you hold.

Go get ’em and make it a SUPER day!

Leadership: Don’t Settle for Something

Steve Jobs“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” –  Steve Jobs

Keyword : Settling

One day I was talking to a client who was in job search mode. I asked about his prior career path, asking how it had measured up to his original dreams and hopes. His response stunned me.

“What path? There is no match.” he said. “Life got in the way. I was going to be an architect. School was completed and I was ready to launch. But my girl friend was pregnant and we decided to get married. I needed work immediately. I got a job at Sears. Thirty years later, I am still in retail.” (Some details changed to protect anonymity).

Read moreLeadership: Don’t Settle for Something