25Oct/1310

Change is Easy, by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Turn to the change section in any management textbook and it will be sure to tell you one thing—major change is horrendously hard. However arduous you might think it will be to re-organize operations, introduce a new business model, or beef up global customer service, accepted wisdom will tell you to think again. Estimate the effort needed to bring about the desired change. Treble it. Then add some. You will find that making change happen in the real world will be much, much harder than you'd ever imagined.

If you, or one of your clients, have ever instigated major change, you will wisely nod your head in agreement with all those textbooks. There are well over a million excellent reasons why change is so very difficult and always takes far longer than expected. People have a natural resistance to change. They cannot be rushed through the laborious emotional processes which major change unavoidably requires. The Senior Management Team—often the instigators of change—will be thinking one or two steps ahead of their announced plans, which skews their perception about the speed at which change can take place towards the madly-optimistic. Change is difficult, it looks difficult, and it takes a long time.

Yet this need not be the case. There is some good news; there is another way. While coaching may not eliminate the amount of client reflection that is required when change comes along, it does offer a better and more enduring return from the investment in its efforts. We of course know that coaching almost always encourages dialog, and that early warning is particularly important for reducing risk in change situations. So a coaching context is generally beneficial during change. But coaching can go beyond simply setting a culture conducive to lubricating the change initiative. By helping the client find her authentic voice, a coach may encourage a leader to take a less reactive and more robust stance. To achieve this, the leader may probe and test the organization's ambition in an effort to interpret its intention in a way which finds a desirable role for her in the emerging scheme.

A Question of Coaching

Traditionally, major organizational change is the practical answer to a set of three strategic questions:

  • Where is the organization today?
  • Where do we want the organization to be tomorrow?
  • How does the organization get there?

Organizational change methodologies built on these three questions have undoubtedly stood the test of time. These are good questions. They are the right questions. The top team's answers to these three questions—together with the quality of change implementation they bring—will deliver to any organization the future it deserves.

Yet, however beneficial this approach may seem to be for the business, the coach may feel stymied by it. Having a client respond without challenge to the organization's perceived demands may leave residual feelings of weakness or inadequacy. Additionally, it may be frustrating to find that the textbooks dictate that there is nothing important for the business beyond the realm of strategy. Where, then, can the coach find a space in which each client can be empowered?

I propose a coaching question, the fourth question of strategy:

  • Where do I (the client) fit in the picture?

The great thing I find about this additional question is that it is also strategic—but this time squarely in the interest of the client. To get to work on this new question, simply take the original three questions and change the word 'organization' to 'client.' Your discussions will produce an initial draft of a personal strategy. Importantly, it has now been made explicit. It will be almost impossible for the client to answer these questions without bringing to the surface a much deeper one: Who am I?

Asking this fourth question puts what could have been an important hidden issue right on the table. With all that done, it's now time to explore common futures. Ask this: Within the proposed organizational change, is there any gap between the client's career and the organization's ambition which needs further exploration?

Playing with Fire

Just in case you might have any qualms about asking this extra question in a live coaching session, remember that the ethical justification for doing so is compelling. At worst, it will quickly emerge that your client is the best person for meeting the new organizational challenges. In that case, your conversation only took a moment and you've squeezed out risk to both your client and the organization. Rest happy that your client is in exactly the right job, fired up with opportunity and enthusiasm, and that the organization is well resourced for its future. This represents a fine return on the investment of a few seconds' coaching time. Celebrate!

What if your client is uncertain about the method of change implementation, or even holds serious reservations about some of the assumptions in the change plan? Here is another great coaching opportunity! You encourage the client to go into research mode, which means setting up conversations with colleagues outside the coaching room. Perhaps it simply turns out that some detail or interpretation needs clarifying, and once that has been done all is then well. Great outcome. Or, maybe it emerges from business discussions that it is necessary to modify some part of the original change program. It could be that a major piece of the change plan eventually gets jettisoned or replaced. Having your client set this research in motion doesn't mean that all risks will evaporate, but it does mean that you and your client have done your level best in addressing all inherent, and foreseeable, risks. You did good work. In the real world, it often doesn't get better than this. Celebrate!

What if it should become clear that there is no fit for your client in the organization's future, and no hope of re-negotiating the change plan? It is difficult to see how you wouldn't want to celebrate even more than before! I expect to hear the champagne corks flying. You have just identified an extremely significant and dangerous risk, and are already on your way to avoiding a predictable disaster. Remember: If it ain't going to work, then it ain't going to work. Get started on the exit strategy today. Better to spot and avoid the dead end right here and now in the coaching room than to leave it festering unnoticed until it grows into the full-blown catastrophe of a failed implementation. Working the mismatch issue now will prevent serious organizational embarrassment and disruption in the future, and it may even save a career.

Principled coaching begets principled leadership. The principled way can at first seem frightening, but is often the best for both client and organization. Business coaches are often asked, "What is it that coaches actually do?" That question offers no quick and simple answer. But one element of coaching is crystal clear: Coaches encourage their clients to walk the talk by living their values and by being authentic. One route to that goal starts with a major change announcement and the fourth question of strategy.

I freely admit that the search for those core personal values can often involve the client in a long and tortuous inner struggle. Often a situation of impending major organizational change will be the only device able to prompt such consistent and deep reflection. Finding the limits of Self can be hard. But the reward for the client is enormous: Authenticity. Authenticity is the foundation of principled leadership. Because the principled leader knows herself, she has no cause to worry about change.

She is to be found anywhere in an organization, not only at its top and not only among the management elite. She feels no need to take a long and protracted journey to some unwanted organizational destination. She is self-secure. Organizational change may present her with a fantastic opportunity to grow her leadership skills and get closer to her personal ambition. If so, she and her organization will reap huge rewards, which multiply as each feeds on the success of the other. But if, after researching all possible alternatives, she still cannot find herself within the emerging picture, she will simply start work on the construction of another picture. It will be her picture, in which, for the time being at least, she can clearly see herself, and which she is prepared to share with the world. Organizations hold no monopoly on change.

Is it not the quest of business coaches to create such leaders? Leaders who are at home with themselves? Change is a gale which extinguishes the candle or spreads the bush fire; its effect depends entirely on the material it meets. Who said the flame must always die? Authentic leaders are prepared for change; for them, being true to self presents no difficulty at all. Change? What is change? Change is easy.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Laurence S. Lyons, PhD, founding director of The Metacorp Group, has extensive experience in coaching senior teams during major change. A member of the WABC International Advisory Committee, Larry is a scheduled panelist at the WABC 10th Anniversary International Conference. His most recently published book, co-edited with Marshall Goldsmith, is the second edition of Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World's Greatest Coaches (Pfeiffer, 2005). Read more about Larry in the WABC Coach Directory. Larry can be reached by email at lslyons@lslyons.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
2Oct/130

Coaching for Results: Behavior Change or Strategy Realization? By Dave Ulrich

Posted by Dave Ulrich

Coaching has become one of those catch-all phrases like strategy, quality or process. Because of its popularity, coaching has sometimes been misused. Those who use coaches sometimes are more excited about the prospect of being coached than about changing. To overcome such generalities and misuses, coaching needs to move from platitudes to greater professionalism.

Making coaching more professional requires clear definition of the desired results of coaching. Coaching is not merely about a process of finding someone with whom to confer, but should have clear results that define the outcome of the engagement. There are two general coaching results: behavior change and strategy realization.

Behavior change means that the executive being coached has behavioral predispositions that get in the way of being an effective executive. When specific behaviors are identified, examined and modified, coaches help executives change.

Strategy realization means that the executive being coached needs guidance in clarifying and focusing the business strategy to help the business achieve financial, customer or organization goals.

Coaching for Behavior Change

Changing behavior is not easy. Research shows that about 50 percent of an individual's values, attitudes and behaviors come from DNA and heritage; the other 50 percent are learned over time.1 An implication of the 50/50 nature/nurture, born/bred debate is that while the past sets conditions on our behavior, our behavior is not preconditioned. Any leader can modify behavior through effective coaching. Below are some of the hints for doing coaching that produces behavioral results.2

Know Why. Until there is a need for change, change will not occur. Once clients understand why they should change they are more likely to accept what they should change.

Collect Data. Often single events or observations from single individuals are episodes, not patterns. Coaching should be about patterns. Generally, people can identify their strengths more than their weaknesses; collecting data from more objective others can help clients better face reality. For instance, leadership 360s provide a marvellous source of data.

Prioritize. Not everything worth changing can or should be changed. In behavior coaching, it is critical to identify the one or two key behaviors that most need to be changed and that will have the most impact.

Be Behavioral. Abstract goals will result in abstract changes; specific behavioral goals will result in specific changes. Sometimes the results of interviews are generic, e.g., "she is not a good people person." In these cases, it is important to go deeper and identify specific behaviors that result in that conclusion. Deeper probes generally focus on situations: "Can you think of a situation where she treated people poorly? What specifically did she do? What could or should she have done differently?"

Focus on the Future More than the Past. Coaching is not therapy. In cognitive or psychoanalytic therapy, the therapist works to identify underlying causes of a behavior. Coaches do not need to be therapists to focus on behavior change. Behavior coaching identifies what behaviors are causing dysfunctions, then focuses on the future and how to promote different behaviors.

Go Public. Commitment goes up when we go public and become personally transparent with our intentions and desires. When an executive has identified an area to improve, it is helpful to share this commitment with others.

Find Support. It is hard to clap with one hand and it is hard to change by oneself. Almost every executive I have seen who has made behavioral change has had enormous support from trusted advisors, including assistants, non-work friends, spouses and children.

Start Small, Keep Going. Most large change starts with small steps. Once executives have picked a behavior that they want to change, I have found four "threes" a helpful way to embed the behavioral change:

Three hours. In the next three hours, what can you do to exhibit the new behavior?

Three days. In the next three days, what can you do to demonstrate sustained commitment to the new behavior?

Three weeks. In the next three weeks, make sure that the new behavior change shows up in activities and relationships.

Three months. After about three months of working on the new behavior, if you continue with it, it begins to become part of your identity and others treat you accordingly.

Learn. Learning should be less an event and more a natural process. The best learners are inquisitive, self-reflective  and adaptive. They are constantly asking what works and what does not, then trying to put those insights into a future context. In time, coaches should be replaced by self-observation.

Follow-up. Finally, behavior coaching needs indicators of progress. Re-administering a 360, re-doing interviews, or debriefing the behavior change process enables an executive to monitor progress. If behavior change did not occur, the coach did not fulfill his or her assignment.

Coaching for behavior change changes behaviors. The end result is that the leader personalizes a new set of behaviors, and as learned behaviors become natural acts, leaders change their identities and reputations.

Coaching for Strategic Results

Strategic results coaching focuses more on helping the executive gain clarity about the results he or she hopes to accomplish and how to make them happen. It is less psychological and more organizational. It also builds on the philosophy of trust, relationship and collaboration, but focuses this philosophy on helping the executive clarify and reach goals.

In my strategy coaching, I have adapted the following steps depending on the situation:

Step 1: Clarify Your Business or Organization Strategy
Coaching in the context of strategy assures that the executive has a clear sense of what he or she is trying to accomplish and sets the criteria for being successful.  A strategy is a succinct statement of what the executive hopes to accomplish and how resources will be applied to that purpose.

Step 2: Describe Your Personal Style
Every executive has a style, or way of getting things done. This style is based on dozens of choices about how the executive makes decisions, processes information, treats people and prefers working. Each style may be modified by identifying and changing behaviors that lead to the style.

Questions to address managerial style:

  • What is your managerial identity? How are your known by others? How would you like to be known by others? What is your leadership brand?
  • What are you managerial strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you generally treat others, make decisions, handle conflict, manage information?

Step 3: Define Stakeholders

Every executive gets work done through, with, and by others, termed stakeholders. These stakeholders may be identified by asking the executive who he or she must interact with to get the job done.

Questions to define stakeholders:

  • Who must you interact with to reach your strategy?
  • Who is affected by the work that you do?
  • Who would you turn to in order to define your managerial style?

Step 4: Specify Goals for Each Stakeholder

Stakeholders have an interest in and impact on an executive's success. To reach a business strategy, each stakeholder must provide something.

Questions to specify stakeholder goals:

  • In the next period of time (3, 6, 12, or 24 months), what do you want to accomplish with each stakeholder?
  • What does each stakeholder contribute to your reaching your strategy?

Step 5: Prioritize Each Stakeholder and Goal

Executives need to prioritize stakeholders based on how central they are to achieving business strategy. Also, strategies are time-bound and the key stakeholders for the next three months may be different than the stakeholders for the succeeding, or preceding, three months.

Questions to prioritize stakeholders and goals:

  • How important is each stakeholder for reaching your goal?
  • Rate each stakeholder 0 to 10 for the next period of time
  • Divide 100 points across the stakeholders to prioritize their impact on your strategies.
  • Rank the stakeholders (from high to low) in terms of impact on your strategies

Step 6: Allocate Time

Where executives spend time communicates what matters most and sends signals to others about what they should do. Coaches can help leaders spend time wisely by focusing on what executives can and should do with each stakeholder.

Questions to help leaders allocate time:

  • How much time in days do you think you should spend with each stakeholder given the priorities you have set?
  • What specific behaviors and actions can you take with each stakeholder to accomplish your goals?
  • How would these actions show up in your calendar? Remember that your calendar should probably be 30-40 percent unscheduled as events arise that merit attention, but the other 60-70 percent can be structured to ensure that you accomplish what matters most.
  • How will you track your return on time invested?

Step 7: Determine Success

The desire to succeed turns into success once it is measured. Coaches help determine measures of success that executives can then track on their own.

Questions to help determine successful measures:

  • How will you know you have succeeded in your overall strategy and in your goals with each stakeholder?
  • How will you monitor your progress?

Conclusion

Coaching for results can focus on either behavior or strategy. Knowing one's own approach enables the coach to better align with the client to make sure that coaching works. As a result of good coaching, leaders develop personal brands that distinguish them for all stakeholders-employees, customers, investors and communities.


1 A review of this work was presented at 21st Annual SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology), Dallas, Texas, April 2006, in a paper by Richard D. Arvey, Maria Rotundo, Wendy Johnson, Zhen Zhang, & Matt McGue entitled "Genetic and Environmental Components of Leadership Role Occupancy." The nature/nurture debate is also dealt with in:
Bouchard, Thomas J. Jr., David T. Lykken, Matthew McGue, Nancy L. Segal, & Auke Tellegen. 1990. "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart." Science, Oct 12: 223-228.
Harris, Judith Rich. 1998. The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. New York: The Free Press.
Harris, Judith Rich. 1995. "Where Is the Child's Environment? A Group Socialization Theory of Development." Psychological Review. 102 (3), July: 458-489.
McGue, M., T., J. Bouchard, Jr., W. G. Iacono, & D. T. Lykken.1993. "Behavioral Genetics of Cognitive Ability: A Life-span Perspective." In Nature, Nurture, and Psychology, edited by R. Plomin & G. E. McClearn. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association: 59-76.

2 The list of behavior coaching tips come from observing, listening to, and learning from great colleagues who have been my mentors and advisors, including Wayne Brockbank, Ralph Christensen, Bob Eichinger, Marshall Goldsmith, Francis Hesselbein, Steve Kerr, Dale Lake, Paul McKinnon, Bonner Ritchie, Norm Smallwood, Paul Thompson, Warren Wilhelm, and Jack Zenger. It is difficult to attribute any one idea to any one person, but I am indebted to each of these colleagues for these ideas.

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.
18Apr/130

The Etiquette Leader Outclasses the Competition: A Tale of Successful Transformation

Posted by Kelly-Lee Mansi

By Kelly-Lee Mansi

The Business/The Organization

The story of The Etiquette Leader is an inspiring account of small business success. In fewer than five years, Louise Fox has become one of Canada's most sought-after experts in the arena of children's etiquette and international and business protocol. Her company, which offers seminars across Canada and the United States, is poised for even greater expansion in 2007.

Louise's original company, Louise Fox, Protocol Solutions, was a successful and well-recognized resource for business leaders and adults interested in improving their etiquette skills. In 2006, Louise acquired The Etiquette Ladies, which was comprised of the Children's/Youth/Teens' and Social IQ Programs division of The Civility Group.

The Partnership

When the opportunity to acquire The Etiquette Ladies presented itself, Louise recognized an excellent chance to expand her company into new markets, and she purchased the division. A few months prior to the acquisition, Louise had met Executive Leadership Coach Kelly-Lee Mansi at a business networking function. Despite Kelly-Lee's 'pitch,' Louise didn't truly understand the value of business coaching. After all, she was already very successful. Why would she need a business coach?

Only a few months after the acquisition, when Louise began to experience 'entrepreneurial overwhelm,' she met Kelly-Lee at another networking function. When Kelly-Lee asked how the acquisition was going, Louise began to share the overwhelm she was experiencing. Kelly-Lee offered to meet Louise for a complimentary coaching session. Fifteen minutes into that session, Louise realized exactly what a business coach could do for her, and immediately hired Kelly-Lee.

The Challenge

The hallmark of Louise's entrepreneurial overwhelm was a complete lack of direction. Louise, who was experienced at building businesses from scratch, was totally out of her comfort zone when it came to integrating two established businesses. Louise shares her perspective regarding this challenge:

"When you are the sole proprietor, business decisions that are often difficult become even more so when you are expanding. I felt I needed a coach to serve as a sounding board—someone who could help me focus, establish priorities, create a vision for the future, determine what I wanted and where I wanted to go with my business while, at the same time, could help me to achieve  balance in my life."

The Approach

The first phase of the coaching focused on helping Louise regain control over her business. Louise had underestimated the cost of the acquisition venture, and when Kelly-Lee conducted some basic business assessments, the most powerful exercise was determining how much profit Louise was generating. Louise was shocked to discover that she was actually losing almost $1,000 a week. This information was a powerful catalyst and motivator, transforming Louise into a decisive, critical thinker. She quickly identified all the programs and activities which were contributing to the weekly loss.

Louise and Kelly-Lee then focused on the soft-skill competency areas of decision-making, prioritization and time management. To effect necessary changes, Louise had to clarify what she wanted to achieve and how she would achieve it. She needed to shift her perspective about her relative value and embrace the ROI (return on investment) mindset.  Her new approach paid off almost immediately. Louise says,

"The challenge was taking the time to focus and establish a plan instead of fighting fires, procrastinating, and letting the business run me instead of my running the business. I had to make decisions about contracting out the jobs that I disliked which could be easily accomplished by someone else. I learned to say no to requests or ideas that were not profitable, weren't part of the strategic plan, or didn't fit into the vision I had for the company."

At the same time, new business strategy development gave birth to a new entity, The Etiquette Leader, which was comprised of two divisions—Children's Etiquette and Business Etiquette. Strategic exercises included defining the vision, mission and purpose statements for each division. A two-year business, branding and marketing plan for each division was completed. Louise comments:

"Although initially it was hard work to develop and create a vision and a strategy to accomplish it, once that was done, everything else seemed to fall into place much more easily. Decisions were easier to make, and there was less stress overall."

The final phase of the coaching focused on re-examining the previously existing business strategies, revenue streams, and profitability within The Etiquette Leader's two divisions. This last step was critical to ensure congruence with the new strategic plan.

Value Delivered

Within nine months of working with Kelly-Lee to overcome her entrepreneurial overwhelm, Louise boasted some impressive results. She:

  • Not only recovered the purchase price of the new company, but also posted an overall increase in combined profitability of 195% over the previous year;
  • Implemented an expansion strategy, which includes the scheduled Fall 2007 launch of a new residual-based affiliates program into Canada and the United States;
  • Reduced overhead costs by 95% by eliminating physical inventory and offering all materials and products through website purchasing and downloading; and
  • Increased media visibility by 400% through an aggressive marketing and branding  campaign. Louise is now one of the most sought-after etiquette experts in Canada, currently averaging three media engagements per week.

Louise has also reinvented the Children's Etiquette division of The Etiquette Leader. Traditionally, the children's etiquette business has been centered around small etiquette parties, averaging a net profit of $20.00 per event (that's not a typo!). Instead, Louise is focusing on writing children's etiquette books and merchandising their distribution throughout Canada and United States. The Eti-CatTM brand will be launched during the fourth quarter of 2007, with a two-year profitability target of 35-40% of the Children's Etiquette division's gross revenues.

Finally, how does Louise feel?

"When you are more focused and less stressed, you are able to think more creatively, feel much happier generally, and achieve the necessary balance in your life. It creates a very positive cycle. Going forward, the challenge will be to sustain the focus and integrity of the vision, while maintaining my flexibility and creativity."

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Kelly-Lee Mansi, PCC, CHRP, is the founder and president of Courageous Conversations, a coaching company focusing on 'Uncovering the Brilliance WithinTM.' Courageous Conversations concentrates on executive, leadership, business and mentor competency development. Read more about Kelly-Lee in the WABC Coach Directory. Kelly-Lee can be reached by email at kellylee@courageousconversationsinc.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
11Apr/130

An Integrated Approach to Strategic Business Coaching

Posted by WABC

By Ernesto Olascoaga

In 1983, Volkswagen devised the concept of an IT company that functioned as an internal service provider. In 1998, VW-GEDAS became gedas, a separate business entity and one of Germany's leading system integrators, serving clients inside and outside the VW Group.

In 2006, under the direction of new CEO, Federico Casas Alatriste, coaching was used by gedas Mexico as an integrated approach to redirect efforts toward three major business imperatives: Exploring new markets, targeting new clients, and improving strategies and work methods. At the time of the coaching process, gedas was in the process of merging with T-Systems to become gedas, a member of T-Systems.

The Partnership

Laura Ceballos, human capital manager, and María Eugenia Díaz Mercado, organizational development coordinator, conducted a 360-diagnostic process to identify the leadership competencies required for the company to become more competitive in the global marketplace. They then partnered with business coach, Dr. Ernesto Olascoaga to design and implement the change process, which had two major goals. First, that all managers understand the company's strategic imperatives. Second, that they work as a team to implement efforts to grow in a competitive market.

The Challenge

With three main clusters of needs, the first revolved around the business imperatives. The second related to developing the coaching competencies of top management, and the third to developing leadership and management competencies in middle management. Detected in the 360-diagnostic were a lack of both teamwork and entrepreneurial attitude. In addition, business results were below annual goals.

The Approach

Design Principles

The coaching process was designed according to the following principles:

  • Communicate key business imperatives to all participants
  • Gain commitment from stakeholders
  • Develop awareness and link significant action to each coaching intervention
  • Include follow-up
  • Review and celebrate progress in a formal closing
  • Define next steps with follow-up commitments

Top management agreed to lead the process using the collaborative research approach suggested by David Coghlan, in which each learning cycle follows four stages: Diagnosis, planning, action, and evaluation.1 Awareness of relevant issues is encouraged during each cycle, which affects four subsystems: Individual, interaction, team, and organization.

Strategic Initiatives

Top managers identified the initiatives that they considered most critical to the business imperatives. These were then plotted against the list of middle managers. For each of the eight initiatives identified, a top manager was designated as its team sponsor and members of a small group of middle managers were assigned as team members. The coaching process was designed to drive the development of required competencies and to provide support to each team.

Kick-off Meeting

In June 2006, during the kick-off meeting, the CEO explained his vision for the company and the implications of the three imperatives. Then, each sponsor presented the main objective and expected deliverables for the respective initiative. An open discussion followed these presentations, and it became clear that deliverables for each team should include a detailed analysis of the current and desired situation, as well as an action plan.

The coaching process and objectives of the process were then explained to all teams. These were:

  • To develop the coaching competencies of top management
  • To develop the leadership and managerial skills of middle management
  • To practice the new skills in the strategic initiative teams
  • To achieve the deliverables in each initiative with the result that the company would align and move towards the business imperatives

The Coaching Process

The coaching process considered the interventions of both the top-management team and middle managers.

The Top-Management Team

The top-management team participated in both group and individual coaching. The Caliper Profile was used to help each sponsor understand his/her motivators and behaviors and to devise an action plan for consolidating strengths and managing behavioral opportunities.

Each sponsor had four individual coaching sessions with the business coach. These were built around the individual's development plan. The team profile was used to help team members understand the opportunities they had to improve and to provide support to the sponsors of each initiative. During several sessions feedforward was used. This methodology emphasizes future opportunities rather than rehashing old events.2

Middle Managers

Using the 360 diagnosis, five competencies were identified that were important for the middle managers to develop: Alignment to strategy, leadership skills, service orientation to clients, development of high-performing teams, and change management. A one-day workshop was structured for each of these topics.

The Coaching Model

The chart below shows the coaching model.

The Value Delivered

Coaching Process Follow-up

Each team met as necessary to work on the initiatives. The sponsor was available as needed and functioned as the team guide. Each sponsor had several individual coaching sessions around his/her leadership, which included improving support for initiative team members. Sponsors also provided coaching to their teams.

Dr. Olascoaga held three sessions with each sponsor and his/her team to review progress on both task and team process issues. During the sessions, teams discussed the learning experience, and identified practical applications of included concepts and exercises. They reviewed their progress, identifying possible improvements for the next workshop.

Comments and suggestions from middle managers and sponsors were analyzed during top management sessions, and two-way communication was encouraged between top and middle managers.

Coaching Process Evaluation

In addition to session evaluations, a final evaluation was included at the end of the last workshop. Most teams reported improvement. The following table shows the average results from each team.

Issue

Level of improvement

Trust

37%

Support

41%

Open communication

32%

Listening

30%

Strategic goals understanding

35%

Commitment to goal achievement

26%

Conflict management

26%

Use of skills and competencies

32%

Follow-up of action plans

42%

Commitment to quality

27%

Image projected to co-workers

27%

Achieved results

38%

 

During the last team coaching session, participants analyzed which expectations were achieved and which were below their expectations.

They recognized improvements in the following:

  • Satisfaction for participating and delivering results through a strategic project that challenged their assumptions
  • Awareness of leadership strengths and weaknesses and learning process for competencies development
  • Interdisciplinary team performance
  • Change management
  • Market understanding
  • Customer service orientation
  • Strategic thinking
  • Commitment to explore business alternatives
  • Global potential
  • Celebration of initial results
  • Clarification of implementation plans

Expectations not met included the following:

  • Participation of some team members
  • Co-ordination and support from some sponsors
  • Some projects did not achieve the required level of results
  • Time spent on each project

Suggestions for improving the learning process included the following:

  • Clarify objectives of strategic initiatives earlier
  • Develop common vision for each project
  • Identify resources required for each initiative
  • Identify empowerment levels required to speed up the change process
  • Increase the interaction among top management and middle management

Celebration

Top management suggested keeping track of the level of progress and making a formal evaluation of each team in order to award a symbolic prize to the best team. This helped organization leaders reinforce awareness, feedforward, and recognition skills, and team members appreciated and enjoyed the process.

Follow-up

Though the merge with T-Systems affected the expected implementation, most teams are applying their strategic initiatives according to the action plans. Top management will initiate the next collaborative research cycle and has identified specific coaching needs for 2007. The plans have been approved to reinforce the needs of key leaders and teams in order that they continue acting on the strategic imperatives.

Coghlan, D. 2001. "Putting 'Research' Back into OD and Action Research: A Call to OD Practitioners."Organization Development Journal, 20 (1), 62-65. See also, Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. 2001. Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Goldsmith, M. Feb. 2003."Feedforward" Executive Excellence; 20, 2; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 15

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Ernesto Olascoaga(Mexico), is the founder and CEO of Grupo Visión Global (GVG), a consulting firm since 1976. With more than 30 years of experience as a business coach and consultant, Ernesto specializes in strategic change management, leadership development and process redesign for collaborative work systems. Read more about Ernesto in the WABC Coach Directory. Ernesto can be reached by email at eolascoaga@gvg.com.mx.

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