What makes coaching successful?

Success is often attributed to mutual chemistry, technique, and readiness to learn. I agree that those are important ingredients in the process. But in reality, they are steps to achieving results. And that’s what we’re looking for, right?

How do we reach the movement and momentum we want?

coaching was discussing performance management on an HR.COM webinar. Managers are often concerned about how to use performance data to really help employees.

That thought popped into mind when, a little while ago, I was in the midst of a coaching session and realized that we were on a roll. So I started paying attention to what was happening–like watching a movie where you are one of the actors. When I looked at the plot, it revealed four components that I think are essential for a coaching session to be successful.

1. Clarity

Ultimately, nothing will happen until you gain laser-like clarity on the issue or goal. The client in this case needed to put a lot of information out there before I could start to ask the right questions after hearing overlapping themes. Finally, he uttered a single phrase that summed up his goal. What was the take away?:

Total clarity before continuing.

2. Confirmation

When I repeated the phrase and asked him if that’s where he wanted to go he smiled and his energy level went up noticeably. As a coach or client, ask the question: Is the excitement increasing because you’ve hit upon the real thing or an exciting thing?

Confirm the real deal or go back to step 1.

3. Communicate it

When we keep a goal or an issue to ourselves, there’s no accountability for action. Once we state our desires or intentions to other people, we have a much greater chance of success. It’s human nature. Tell someone else that you are planning on doing something and the likelihood of you doing it increases. Ask “Who else will you tell about this?” “Who else needs to be involved to help you accomplish this?”

Communicate to motivate.

4. Commitment

Create an immediate action–something that will happen today. Too often we become satisfied with the “Aha” and ignore the “Ah, when?” I ask for an action that can be taken before the end of the day. It creates momentum, makes something happen (we both get paid to make something happen), and shows genuine commitment. It also provides a specific action that allows for follow up. “What was the outcome of your phone call to the customer?” “How did your team react to your initial meeting about the new software integration?

If the coach hears about how things went, then it opens the door to identify next steps. If the action didn’t happen, it’s a signal for both to examine what is happening and to get quickly on track. (That could ultimately lead to a return to Clarity). Without a commitment and follow-up, it’s easy to feel good about the session and still have nothing happen. (I hate when nothing happens!)

Commit to an action that will happen today.

How will you feel when you have to apply all the time after washing your hands with hard water after visiting the washrooms? It is not only cumbersome but also tiring. The best way to make the employees comfortable is by making sure that you install a water softener in the office. Moreover, cleaners will feel the side effect of side water since the detergent budget will also move higher than when you have soft water. Maintenance costs of plumbing will also be on the higher side now that there will be clogging all the time. It is therefore important to install a water softener in your unit to curb all these.

This is a simple technology that comes in handy to separate the ions such that the calcium and potassium elements freely move to mingle with the rest for easy incorporation with the detergent. Let us look at the benefits of soft water in an office.

Maintenance of cleanliness

Nothing is disgusting as going to an office mirror only to have contours not because the cleaner did not do a good job but because of the type of water that is used. Soft water helps to maintain the shiny look of the mirrors, glassware as well as the tiles. There is power in productivity when an office is sparkling clean and shiny. It boosts once confidence and raises their self-esteem in the workplace.

Softens the skin and hair

Employees spend more time in their offices than at home. You can imagine the long hours they have in contact with hard water and the chemical reactions. Although it is mild, it is the reason behind the rough texture of hands in most office employees exposed to hard water. It is even worse for employees to shower at work. It is therefore important to maintain the smoothness of their skin through the installation of a water softener.

Prolongs the lifespan of appliances

Have you wondered why your coffee maker spoils often yet they are of the same brand with yet another busy office? The answer lies in the type of water that one uses. Soft water is ideal when it comes to increasing the lifespan of the kitchen appliances- electric kettle, coffee machines, iron water heaters and dishwasher among others.

Saves money and time

Which company wishes to increase their budget on maintenance and energy costs? If there is something that these enterprises love then it is the fact that they can get a similar or even better service at a low cost. The rate of energy consumption is higher in hard water than when using soft water. This is because of the regeneration process.

There is no debate as to whether you need a water softener in the office or not. The disadvantages are not worth even if you are a non-profit making organization. Based on the side effects, prolonged use of hard water makes it difficult for the comfort of the employees.

Safety in the workplace is paramount, to protect you from an injury or illness that might be found in your course of work. In metalwork welding fumes are inevitable, gas masks are the only protective gear for welders. Who would want to contract a disease or an injury from his/her workplace? Absolutely no one.

 In light of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Act law was put in place to create safer workplace conditions. Precautions should, therefore, be taken to prevent illnesses and injuries at workplaces.

Welders are exposed to fumes during cutting of iron and steel and toxic gases, which are a mixture of silicates, fluorides, metallic vapors. They can cause serious illnesses especially due to prolonged exposure.  Care must thus be taken to eliminate or at least reduced the harm they might cause to the user by a high degree. It is a protection standard recommended by the World Health Organization. since the vapors and gases can be inhaled, they can be blocked by a simple gas mask of N95. The gases and vapors can cause serious ailments in the respiratory tract.  Gas masks are sealed to cover over the nose, mouth, eyes and other soft parts of the face, to prevent both inhalations of toxic gases, and injuries that might be caused by sparks released during welding. They come in different shapes and sizes depending on the nature of the work, the intensity, and how long the work will be done.

Welding helmets are also used as protective gear. It is one of the most useful and needed equipments for any welder. It has special features like goggles and a shield for the protection of the eyes and face from heat and sparks generated from the welding materials. They use batteries.  For those that use batteries, replacement of the batteries is part of the routine maintenance of the helmets. Tell-tale signs for replacement of batteries is when it is unable to adapt well to light changes.

The protective shield is unable to auto darkening, thus exposing you to brighter light, hence affecting your eyes. Battery replacement should be done regularly to maintain high protective standards. Each welding helmet that uses battery has an instruction manual on how to change the batteries, the user must read carefully before starting the procedure and maintain high levels of care not to destroy the helmet and also protect oneself.

Welders are exposed to so much danger while discharging their duties.

The dangers include inhalation of toxic fumes and physical injuries due to sparks and heat generated during welding. Their safety must be guaranteed by the availability of protective gear and education of proper use of them to wipe out any risk of injury or illnesses caused by the harm posed to them. Gas masks, welder helmets, aprons, and heavy-duty gloves amongst others should be made available to the welders for their own safety.

There seems to be an ongoing attempt to recycle, re-package, re-label and microwave new leaders into existence. Yet that approach must be important, fascinating, or both because it’s a huge moneymaker. Look at this:

Leadership books at Amazon: 72,587  vs. 26,086 for Nutrition & Diet. There are twice as many authors and publishers banking on people wanting to become leaders than paying attention to staying alive long enough to get there.

Google the word “leadership” and you can spend the rest of your lunch break reading your choice of 160,000,000 results. Want to know the definition of “leadership”? No problem. There are 9,650,000 search results for “leadership definition”. That one got me thinking: “If we have so many people concerned about leadership (a good thing), what happens if they all define it differently (a potentially confusing thing).

Pause for just a moment. If you were asked by a “leader” how you define that role, what would you say?

Leadership Definitions From Four Experts:

  • Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
  • John C. Maxwell: “leadership is an influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
  • Warren Bennis:  “Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realize your own leadership potential.”
  • John W. Gardner: Leadership is the process of persuasion and example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to take action that is in accord with the leader’s purpose, or the shared purposes of all.”



Can You Find the Similarities?

One striking similarity for me is that none of the definitions includes rank or title. Three of the four are explicit about influence and persuasion. Two of the four-state or imply process and potential vs. “I’ve reached it!”

But my personal favorite is Drucker. He’s saying “Look over your shoulder. If you don’t see anyone, you’re not leading.” More importantly, if you have followers, you better recognize that you’re leading!

Some food for thought:

  • If it’s really that simple, then why do you and I, along with thousands of others, meditate on the deep meaning of “leadership?”
  • Do individual definitions vary so much that leaders simply can’t win when employees are surveyed?
  • Could part of the problem be that you and I won’t let someone lead because we refuse to be followers? (Instead of arrogant, “sucky” leadership, perhaps we have some arrogant, “sucky” followership.
  • If it’s all about influence and being influenced, what gets in the way?

Leadership, stripped bare, involves two elements:  the boldness to stand up and lead, and the humility to stand up and follow. I’m wondering if the bigger leadership challenge may actually rest with the second.

Employees want development and developmental feedback. Every legitimate, broad-based survey from the past ten years confirms that as a fact.

Here’s the challenge: most managers aren’t very skilled at developing people over the long-term.

The data show that, although managers acknowledge the importance of development, they are usually ranked near the bottom in terms of there effectiveness and attention to “development.” Related to this is the ability to deliver critical feedback, also a skill that receives a consistently low rating. In all fairness, colleagues and others in the organizational food chain aren’t really any better when the data are analyzed. (Makes sense. Colleagues and others are also executives, managers, and supervisors).

What About High Potentials?

In a study done by Kaplan et al., in 1991, the findings revealed that high potential employees, especially executives, receive less feedback than others. (Subsequent research yields the same information). When high-po’s do get feedback, it’s more along the lines of how terrific they are. Feedback to high potentials is seldom specific and their bosses even tend to skip over the formal, face-to-face, yearly performance appraisal. We should all be so fortunate.

What to Do?

OK, let’s agree that delivering pointed, negative feedback is uncomfortable for most people. It must be, otherwise there’d be more of it. 

The easiest way I know of to “get honest and developmental” is to sit down and agree on a set of specific skills or competencies needed to achieve strategic objectives. In general, we all lean toward the notion that skills can be developed and, when they are, it will bump up performance. Taking this approach makes it easier to discuss specific performance issues because each is tied to a skill that was agreed to at the outset.

Sure, it takes thoughtfulness and face time. If you need a little more motivation, research also shows that employees rate managerial/executive performance, in part, on the relationship established with direct reports. 

The very act of sitting down together is experienced as an indicator of managerial competency.