25Jul/130

Coaching Models for Business Success: Working with Coaching Models* By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching models help us to understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective and to appreciate the need for "structure" in the interaction between coach and client. They offer flexibility and a structure for both the coaching conversation and the overall coaching journey.

Although models create a system within which coach and client work, it is essential that models are not experienced as either prescriptive or rigid. The coaching conversation is about the client, not the coach. If the model is too prescriptive, it means it is fulfilling the coach's agenda, rather than attempting to understand the client's issues.

This next series of articles surveys a cross-section of models that influence the work of business and executive coaches worldwide. I will highlight a variety of models, including circular, nested, four-quadrant and U-process models.

What Is a Coaching Model?

A model represents a system with an implied process. It is a metaphor or analogy used to help visualize and describe the journey. Models systemically depict or represent a process that cannot be directly observed. In other words, a model represents more than what you see. If you can develop a model that encompasses the coaching conversation and the entire coaching intervention, you will begin to work with considerably greater ease within your practice. A coaching model is representative of what happens, or will happen, in the coaching conversation (micro) and in the overall coaching intervention or journey (macro). I recommend working with simple models that represent both the micro- and macro coaching interventions.

If you imagine that the model is the process you use to work with your client, it embodies all of your tools and techniques, including your question frameworks. A model is a simple representation of the journey that can encompass the skills, experience and expertise coach and client bring to the coaching conversation.

Which Models to Use?

The main purpose of this series is to introduce you to a variety of models, with examples of how to facilitate a coaching conversation using each one. The key principle I want to convey is that it is essential to adopt a structured approach to your coaching conversation. This does not mean that you cannot let the conversation grow and be explorative-I mean structure in a big-picture way. That is the beauty of any model: having the freedom to explore within each part of the model.

Purpose, Perspectives, Process Model

The Purpose, Perspectives, Process model (see Figure 1) was developed by David Lane of the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) and the Work-Based Learning Unit at London's Middlesex University (Lane and Corrie, 2006).

Purpose (Where Are We Going and Why?)

What is your purpose in working with the client? Where are you going with this client? What does the client want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their overall journey with you as their coach?

For example, one client working in the telecom industry said in our first session together, "I need your help because everybody in the organization distrusts me and I'm in a pretty senior position. What can I do about it? I'm highly respected by those subordinate to me in position and disliked and mistrusted by those superior or equal to me in position." As coach, your questions will relate to client purpose, i.e., "Where are we going, and what's the reason for going there?" It is usually better to ask a "what" question rather than a "why" question. For example, "Why are we going there?" sounds intrusive and can create a defensive posture on the part of the client. "What" questions help to create a bigger picture of the journey; "what" creates perspective. This client's purpose in this example was to "build alliances and trust with peers, colleagues and superiors throughout the organization."

Perspectives (What Will Inform Our Journey?)

What perspectives inform the journey for both coach and client? Both coach and client come in with their individual backgrounds, experience, expertise, culture, values, motivations and assumptions that drive behavior.

I recently had a call from a potential client who was a general manager in the energy industry. We chatted about his background, career and current job, and discussed his perspective in terms of his position within the organization, his style of leading and managing his team of people, and the impact of his age on his career prospects. Finally he said, "I have got as far as I can get with what I know now-and I need to know more, somehow."

We then discussed my perspective, i.e., what informs the way I work with clients, my experience and expertise. Based on our mutual perspectives, the client asked, "Would we have some kind of synchronicity or a match in order to work together?" He wanted to understand what models, tools and techniques I used as he wanted to create his own leadership development toolbox for his senior managers. He also wanted to understand how to handle mistakes: did I make them and what would my education, training and work experience bring to our conversation? In this first contracting conversation, we worked through the model like this:

Perspectives: How we might bring our two worlds together;
Purpose: What he ultimately wanted from the coaching experience; and
Process: How we would work together to achieve his outcomes.

Process (How Will We Get There?)

Using this model helped me to begin to understand the above client's needs, develop rapport, and identify not just his overall outcomes but a way to begin working together. At this stage of the model we contracted, set boundaries, agreed on confidentiality matters, outlined the fee paying process and initiated the formulation of a leadership development plan. We also agreed on timing (how often we would see each other and the individual client's line manager), and considered questions such as: What assessments would be useful for the individual client to complete? How would we debrief those profiles? We discussed potential coaching assignments and timing for the overall contract (including termination and exit possibilities if either party was unhappy) and explored how to obtain line manager approval. Finally, we set up a separate meeting to review the process with the line manager and the group HR director.

How Can This Model Help You?

This model can help you in three ways: to contract with the client, to structure the entire coaching journey and to guide your coaching conversation. Out of this specific conversation emerged the client's purpose, clarification about how our perspectives fit together to help him achieve this purpose, and the process within which we would work to achieve the outcomes desired.

This model can be used for the regular coaching conversations you have with your client. The client brings to the conversation a possible "menu" of topics to be discussed, or even just one particular topic. One of my clients in the media came to me one day saying, "My purpose today is to understand why I am sabotaging my best efforts to delegate to my senior managers" (purpose). As the coach, I wanted to understand all of the perspectives underlying the client's aim for this conversation (perspectives), as well as identify the various tools or techniques that could be used in the process.

The Coaching Conversation and the Coaching Journey

This model can represent the process for just one coaching conversation, but it can also represent the overall journey. For example, the client comes in with the purpose, "I would like to work with you; no one else will work with me as they find me too difficult." This client's purpose became to find a coach who would work with her, to help her to identify how she could not only develop the interpersonal skills to work successfully with others, but to demonstrate her new learning through visible behavior change at work. The coach's and the client's perspectives will be unique and different. In working with the client, you bring not just perspective, but your observations as to how this client seems to be working within the organizational system.

In terms of process, you may ask the client to do a range of assessment profiles, or you may shadow the client at work to experience how he or she facilitates meetings or interacts with customers, subordinates, superiors and colleagues.

Conclusion

Coach practitioners have a great deal of flexibility when working with coaching models. In my next column we will explore the use of the nested-levels model developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004). I hope I have stimulated your appetite to further investigate coaching models.

*(Adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Experience, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. 2009. Knowledge Resources and Karnac.)

Resource Materials

Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lane, D.A. and S. Corrie. 2001. The Modern Scientist-Practitioner: A Guide to Practice in Psychology. London: Routledge.

Stout Rostron, S. 2006. Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour. Unpublished DProf dissertation. London: Middlesex University.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
20Jun/130

Don’t Leave Them Standing in an Empty Room

Posted by WABC

trudy-triner

By Trudy Triner

As all corporate trainers know, there are very few leadership training activities that have an absolutely predictable outcome. But as I traveled around the world for a large Boston-based training and consulting organization, there was one activity that did. I referred to this activity as a "thrilling" experience as I introduced it to groups in France, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Hawaii. In truth, it was probably more thrilling for me to watch than for them to participate. But the learning was always profound, if sometimes frustrating and even a tad annoying.

Here's the activity. A class is divided into two groups: one is Management, the other is Staff. They are told that, working together, they must solve a physical challenge. That challenge requires Staff to complete a series of physical moves with their bodies, much like a Chinese checkers game. However, only Management is given complete instructions for the task. The two teams are in separate rooms. Only one person from Management can enter Staff's room at a time. And the activity begins.

Here's what happens time and time again. Management works diligently to solve the problem on paper in their room. They sweat. They try options. They even try moving pieces of paper or sugar packets or pencils to represent the Staff. Meanwhile Staff members wait and wait and wait. They begin to conclude that Management is trying to trick them or make fools of them. As time goes on, they begin to get angry. They disengage. Some start to read the newspaper. Others plot revenge and vow to do nothing Management asks. When a Management person finally appears, they usually have paper and pencil in hand, scribble a few notes, totally focus on the task, ignoring the people, and retreat to share their findings with their Management team as they continue to struggle to solve the problem. And so it goes, most often until the allocated time expires. The problem remains unsolved. Staff is frustrated and sometimes angry. The debrief is rich, but often emotion-laden. "Why did you treat us so badly?" Staff will ask. "We were just busy trying to solve the problem," Management says – truly surprised, and somewhat hurt, that their efforts weren't more appreciated.

The secret to success in this exercise, which is almost never discovered, is for Management simply to explain the problem to the Staff and ask for their help in solving it. Staff members become intrigued. They become engaged. They try alternative moves with their bodies and within a few minutes, they solve the problem. They are proud. Management is impressed and relieved. Everyone wins. And it almost never, ever happens!

I was reminded of this activity and its vivid demonstration of the futility of management trying to solve important problems without engaging staff when our Senior Leadership team asked for a training program that would help managers understand the need to engage employees in solving some of the most important challenges in our health-care organization. They wisely understood that without that engagement, it would be very difficult to meet the challenges in store for health care in the coming years.

We partnered with Richard Axelrod, co-author of You Don't Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done, and designed a half-day program for our 650 leaders, managers, and supervisors. We called the program, Engaging Staff to Lead, believing that the ideal was to have staff become so involved, they actually led the improvement effort themselves. And it worked. We saw dramatic improvements in service scores and other important metrics.

After the training effort, the coaching and reinforcement began. During coaching sessions with managers who might be having trouble with staff engagement, I asked them, "How are you learning what's important to your staff?" "How are you supporting them in reaching their goals?" "What do you do to demonstrate your understanding of the world from their point of view?" "How are you demonstrating your appreciation for their efforts?" "Are you providing as much feedback as they feel they deserve?" And, "Are you providing a motivating challenge and empowering them to solve their own problems?"

A light bulb often goes off as managers answer these questions because these are the types of management behaviors that lead to staff engagement. I love those forehead-slapping moments when they realize they've neglected one or more of those elements of engagement. And they love walking away with a plan to engage their staff more fully and avoid all the negative ramifications of leaving staff standing in a room waiting for management to solve all the problems in another room. That is truly a lose-lose situation to be avoided at all cost.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

References

Axelrod, R. H., Axelrod, E. M., Beedon, J., and Jacobs, R. W. 2004. You Don't Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishing.
trudy-trinerTrudy Triner is a writer, speaker, and leadership consultant who has helped people be more successful in their work for over 25 years. She is also the author of a popular blog and a soon to be published book, Make Mom Happy By Mail, which encourages us all to connect with our parents in a meaningful way while the fleeting window of opportunity to do so is still open.
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6Jun/130

Success story A&S BMW Motorcycles

Posted by WABC

By Gary Henson

The Business / The Organization: Randy Felice is the owner of A&S BMW Motorcycles, the largest BMW Motorcycle dealership in the world. With humble beginnings, A&S began as a salvage motorcycle store in 1968. In 1988 they became a BMW motorcycle dealership. By 1998 they finalized the contract to provide BMW motorcycles to the California Highway Patrol and began to grow rapidly.

The Partnership: As the son of the original founder of A&S Cycles, Randy has worked in the business all of his life. When his parents retired in 2003, he began registering his leadership team in management classes. On the last day of one of Randy's courses, the leader recommended getting a business coach.

Although Gary Henson, president of BusinessCoach.com, had spoken previously to Randy several times about business coaching, Randy admits not really understanding the value that coaching could have for him and A&S BMW. The timing was right; Gary made a routine follow-up call soon after Randy's discussion with the management course leader. Randy said, "I chose Coach Gary because he was committed to being my coach. I could tell that he would be committed to the success of my business like it was his own."

The Challenge: Randy's priority in hiring a business coach was to cut business expenses. Even with his degree in business, Randy also knew that he needed help learning to be an effective manager. As the partnership developed, Gary and Randy found that these additional issues needed addressing:

  • The company had no clear vision or mission
  • The company had no stated core values
  • Employees didn't know the strategic direction of the company
  • Employees had no clear goals or commitments
  • Randy was uncomfortable leading staff meetings
  • He didn't know how to become an effective leader or see the clear value of leadership
  • He didn't know how to develop a team culture

The Approach: At the beginning of the coaching partnership, Gary asked Randy to clarify three things:"What do you want? What are you committed to? Who's going to hold you accountable?"  When the foundation of trust and accountability was established, Randy began to take the following steps with Gary's help:

  • Established all-company staff meetings to build shared vision, values and goals and foster communication
  • Established managers as leaders of their individual departments
  • Implemented performance- and commitment-based systems for the company
  • Developed a monthly managers' budgeting and training meeting
  • Utilized profile assessments to ensure that employee characteristics were in alignment with critical need areas
  • Replaced underperforming employees with highly effective team leaders
  • Added new product lines that were complementary to A&S BMW's retail environment, such as Vespa, Kymco and Rokon Powersports

The Value Delivered: Once A&S BMW developed and implemented the shared vision, mission statement, commitments and goals, the impact on the bottom line was striking:

  • An 18% increase in profits from retail operations. This was despite a 5.9% decrease in sales as BMW Motorcycles discontinued many of its models to prepare for new models.
  • A 12% decrease in employee expenses, including insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Randy states, "Once we got everyone going in the same direction, we could get more done with fewer people."

Randy says, "so much has changed that it's difficult to cover it all, but what's important to know is, Gary made a promise to transform our business and he has kept that promise. I would have never believed that my life could have changed to this degree, not in a million years." Randy further states, "Anyone who hasn't taken on coaching is only half running a business."

Today, a year and a half into the business coaching relationship with BusinessCoach.com, A&S BMW is a different place to work, and now, a different place to play.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Premier Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Gary B. Henson, founder and president of BusinessCoach.com, specializes in business coaching as a strategic/change management tool leading to improved customer/employee satisfaction and overall increased corporate performance. Gary Henson and Randy Felice have recently partnered to write a book called The Fearless Leader. Learn more about Gary and BusinessCoach.com in the WABC Coach Directory. He may be reached by email, at: coaching@businesscoach.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
30May/130

From Small to Dazzling: VSM Marketing Support Services

Posted by WABC

By Jean-Pierre Fortin

The Business/The Organization

VSM is a corporation offering telemarketing services in the information technology domain across North America. Founded in 1993, VSM is one of the leaders in the province of Quebec in this business area, and is positioning itself in the North American market by offering a wide array of marketing services to its information technology clients, including client prospecting and qualification, targeted client databases, business intelligence and profiling, turnkey marketing seminars, and more.

VSM and its leaders have worked to leverage their clients' strengths as they work with customers. They have reached an exceptional level of client satisfaction, and VSM is recognized as an expert in the marketing of information technology.

The Partnership

The president of VSM, Alain Boudreau, had led the company through its initial small business stage and growth. Over time, because of their specialization, VSM created a large demand for their services and high performance. In 2001, Alain hired a new partner who would take over the day-to-day operations of the company.

In November 2001, Alain contacted Jean-Pierre Fortin, executive coach and the founder of Coaching de gestion inc. Alain saw Jean-Pierre, an experienced coach and previous executive, as the right person to coach him and his partner as they worked to take the company to the next stage in their growth. Jean-Pierre, a coach since 1998, had been an executive for over 25 years, and also knew well what it meant to be an entrepreneur facing growth.

The Challenge

Alain's main desired result from the coaching partnership was to effectively navigate the dazzling growth his company was facing. With the assistance of a coach, he needed to:

  • Help his partner quickly engage himself in the right direction
  • Overcome the loneliness that results from being the top link in the decision-making process
  • Shift from a day-to-day operations focus to a more strategic approach in leading the company
  • Modify the company's business model in order to develop a profitable client base
  • Restructure the accounting system to better understand the costs associated with each contract
  • Identify and eliminate non-profitable clients

The Approach

Jean-Pierre related easily to the challenges his client faced, because he felt that he was facing similar challenges in his coaching business. He saw the opportunity to not only support Alain but to also apply the result of the coaching. Jean-Pierre and Alain easily understood each other and established good communication. Concurrently, Jean-Pierre hired a coach located in California to enable him to step back and ensure the success of his own business so that he could more effectively coach Alain through this period of growth.

Jean-Pierre used a coaching strategy that focused on what was most important for Alain: sustained sales growth, higher operations efficiency, and improved profitability. The strategy for the business included:

  • Making a clear distinction between revenue and benefits to eliminate non-profitable sales;
  • Delegating more while emphasizing responsibilities and competencies rather than tasks;
  • Developing a client base with repeat business rather than "one-shot deals";
  • Raising the awareness and diligence of project managers to control the evolution of contract costs.

Rather than pointing to solutions to the complex situations that Alain faced, Jean-Pierre helped him work intensely to discover his own solutions. Over the period of a year, the sessions moved from weekly to as needed and upon client request. The relationship has continued, and Alain continues to turn to his coach to get clarity when facing a complex decision.

The Value Delivered

Over time, the strategies that VSM executive Alain Boudreau and coach Jean-Pierre Fortin implemented have increased the sales growth of the business and led to increased profitability and a higher efficiency in operations.

Through coaching, Alain became aware of the distinction between the different types of costs (direct, general, marketing, etc.) and their implication in profitability. He began to realize that these costs were too high with respect to the estimates they were providing to clients. The coaching led to some interesting results: while sales growth was not significant due to the elimination of non-profitable clients, the profits from the consolidated client base grew by approximately 9.7%.

The intangible results of the coaching partnership were just as powerful. Jean-Pierre felt as a coach that he better understood the rite of passage of a small business to a medium-sized business. The trust built between coach and client and the empowerment and awareness the client experienced will allow Alain Boudreau to continue to lead VSM to even greater growth.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Jean-Pierre Fortin, MCC, CEC, CRHA, CA, works with company directors, executives, managers and entrepreneurs primarily in French-speaking Canada and Europe. In 1997, he founded Coaching de gestion inc., a coaching school for leaders within organizations as well as for professional coaches. Read more about Jean-Pierre in the WABC Coach Directory. Jean-Pierre may be reached by email at fortinjp2@coaching.qc.ca.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.