GEA Blog

Why Utilizing an Executive Coach Has Become So Popular

By Pete Tosh, Founder of The Focus Group

Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps and Peyton Manning had coaches. Tiger Woods had several coaches. And as one client said to me – indicating his interest in having a coach – “Even Tom Brady has a coach.”

In today’s demanding business environment leaders have limited opportunity to address their personal development needs. And making matters worse, leaders are often somewhat isolated from meaningful feedback.

An Executive Coach becomes a partner in a leader’s learning process – providing pertinent techniques, perspective and experience. Executive Coaching is a proven means of accelerating leadership development – so increasingly, businesses are engaging Executive Coaches to:

  • Assist managers and leaders in dealing with the increasing complexity of their business environments
  • Work with leaders on the positive side of coaching – developing their high-potential talent. In fact, 140 leading Executive Coaches surveyed in a recent HBR study reported that they are hired primarily for that reason
  • Help technically-proficient individuals who have been promoted into a managerial role but are not particularly skilled in dealing with their direct reports. As managers climb the corporate ladder, their interpersonal skills become increasingly more important than their technical expertise
  • Retain leaders and follow through on succession plans – showing the organization’s commitment to investing in the development of its key talent
  • Shorten the time it will take a leader to address his/her developmental areas and sustain the change

Executive Coaching is useful to both accelerate the development of managers with high potential and to help those who are experiencing performance challenges. But it always involves individuals whose leadership and growth potential are highly valued by their organizations. As Executive Coaching has become so common, any stigma attached to receiving it at the individual level has disappeared. Now, it is often considered a badge of honor.

Executive Coaching is:

  • An enabling relationship between a manager and a Coach who assists the manager in achieving performance improvement goals – which consequently enhance the performance of the organization
  • Helping leaders get unstuck from and work through their challenges to make behavioral changes which transform themselves and their teams
  • Assisting managers in becoming as effective as they can be, making the most of their capabilities – faster than they could do on their own

Executive Coaches while being confided in serve in the roles of supporter, co-creator, confidant, accountability colleague, catalyst and a partner who shares the goal of achieving the desired business outcomes. Coaches need to be focused and determined but

caring. “Does coaching work? Yes, good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.” Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric.

Executive Coaches:

  • Facilitate the pace and direction of the coaching engagement to accomplish specific business goals
  • Emphasize a defined results orientation to a manager’s skill improvement plan
  • Identify and manage any conflicts and resistance to change while getting the ‘real issues’ on the table
  • Cause the leader to be aware of the perspectives and behaviors that are holding him/her back – their blind spots
  • Provide assistance in improving specific skills – communication, delegation, the management of interpersonal conflict, team building, persuasion, etc.
  • Utilize employee climate/engagement surveys, 360 feedback, interviews, performance appraisals, competency and personality assessments, workplace application exercises, confrontation interventions, etc.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to Executive Coaching. It requires a customized plan that addresses the needs as defined by the organization and the leader – and that the leader will commit to implementing.

The Focus Group’s Four Step Executive Coaching process includes:

#1 Developing an Executive Coaching agreement:

  • Establishing the focus and specific objectives
  • Identifying and agreeing on appropriate Coaching methods

#2 Building a Coaching relationship with the manager

  • Setting confidentiality agreements
  • Agreeing on a commitment of time

#3 Establishing and managing a process of providing Coaching assistance related to the pre-established objectives while:

  • Identifying and managing any resistance to change
  • Utilizing the appropriate Coaching methods, techniques and interventions
  • Getting the ‘real’ issues on the table
  • Providing feedback during sessions and as follow up to Coaching application assignments between sessions

#4 Evaluating the success of the Coaching experience

  • Gauging the individual’s behavioral changes and accomplishments – through observation, metrics and stakeholders’ feedback

Executive Coaching can be one of the best people investments a company can make. We’d enjoy discussing how Executive Coaching might benefit a manager or leader in your organization.

Four-Part Employee Engagement Series

By Pete Tosh, Founder of The Focus Group

Because several GEA members have had success using our Employee Engagement Survey, we wanted to offer greater insight into the subject through a four-part series of articles

Part One: The Irony of Employee Engagement- Five Facts Every Manager Needs to Know

We have yet to meet a manager who did not agree that engaged employees are essential to achieving enhanced productivity, quality, customer satisfaction & profits. But the irony is that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged. This irony may be due to some managers not being aware of five facts:

  1. Over 100 employee engagement research projects have been conducted with the economic benefits of having engaged employees have been well substantiated.
  2. Many of the most well-managed service & manufacturing companiesRitz-Carlton, Chick-fil-A, Baptist Health System & Caterpillar – are benefitting from enhanced employee engagement; it is very doable.
  3. Employee engagement is necessary for strategy execution. Every company expends significant resources developing business plans but those plans require engaged employees who want to implement them.
  4. Employees’ engagement needs are reasonable. The employee engagement needs most closely correlated with positive economic outcomes are as straightforward as employees:
    – having a clear understanding of what is expected of them
    – periodically receiving recognition & praise when they have done a good job
    – feeling that their manager wants to help them be successful in their jobs
  5. Supervisors & managers are the key to engaged employees & improved organizational performance. The factor that has the greatest impact on an employee’s degree of engagement is the employee’s relationship with his/her immediate manager. And with a little training any manager – who is willing – can learn to apply practical engagement coaching techniques.

Part Two: Employee Engagement & Commitment = Productivity & Profits

Your management team is tasked with optimizing the performance of your lean workforce – achieving more productivity and profit from fewer employees.

Gallup has found that employees who responded positively to engagement questions worked in business units with:

  • 22% higher profitable
  • 22% higher productivity
  • 10% higher customer satisfaction
  • 51% less employee turnover
  • 48% fewer accidents
  • 41% fewer quality defects
  • 37% less absenteeism


The GEA is helping its members implement the following approaches to enhance their levels of employee engagement, productivity & profitability:

  • Surveying employees to determine their current state of engagement and segmenting the feedback by manager
  • Providing managers with the feedback from their teams and personalized development plans
  • Training managers in the techniques used by the most effective managers
  • Helping managers implement their development plans and thus continually improve the engagement of their teams

Any organization not proactively addressing employee engagement is ‘leaving a lot of money on the table’ – and who can afford that?

Part Three: Supervisors with Dead Batteries Aren’t Able to Jumpstart Anyone

If your CEO were told that your company’s best customer was considering doing business with a competitor, he/she would undoubtedly react in short order. If your employees are a significant asset, shouldn’t the engagement of that asset also be a priority?

Creating a culture of employee engagement involves a three-level approach:

  • Level 1: Your leadership team defining your organization’s engagement strategy & igniting its execution. Managers with highly engaged leaders are nearly 40% more engaged.
  • Level 2: Employee engagement is the energy behind employee performance – with supervisors and managers serving as the catalysts. Every interaction a supervisor has with an employee is an opportunity to engage and stimulate discretionary effort. Employees feeling valued and appreciated by their immediate supervisors is the primary determinant of engagement. But supervisors with dead batteries aren’t able to jumpstart anyone.
  • Level 3: It’s difficult for leaders to objectively know how front-line employees view their relationships with their supervisors. Employee engagement surveys conducted with employees’ responses segmented by supervisor provide leaders with very actionable information.

Part Four:  A Leader Who Faced the Music Even though He Didn’t Like the Tune

Under Doug Conant, the former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, the company reversed its decline in market value, improved its financial position & enhanced its relationship with its customers. When asked how, Conant emphasized that engaging the workforce was an integral part of his strategy. He knew from experience that employee  engagement would work and that he had to lead the charge from the top.

Today Campbell Soup:

  • Annually measures employee engagement corporate-wide
  • Trains its managers by providing practical techniques they can use to improve employee engagement
  • Holds managers accountable for improving their team’s level of engagement by tying managers’ merits,bonuses and promotions to those scores

Research has proven – and common sense tells us – that dissatisfied employees are less productive, care less about quality and increase the cost of doing business. Measuring employee engagement is analogous to going to the doctor – we never want to hear bad news. But GEA has consistently found that it’s better for managers to know and be able to react – than to not know.

Please let the GEA know if you are interested in arranging an Employee Engagement Consultation – at no charge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 Employee Engagement & Commitment = Productivity & Profits

 

Your management team is tasked with optimizing the performance of your lean workforce – achieving more productivity & profit from fewer employees.

 

Gallup has found that employees who responded positively to engagement questions worked in business units with:

  • 22% higher profitable
  • 22% higher productivity
  • 10% higher customer satisfaction
  • 51% less employee turnover
  • 48% fewer accidents
  • 41% fewer quality defects
  • 37% less absenteeism

 

The GEA is helping its members implement the following approaches to enhance their levels of employee engagement, productivity & profitability:

  • surveying employees to determine their current state of engagement & segmenting the feedback by manager
  • providing managers with the feedback from their teams & personalized, development plans
  • training managers in the techniques used by the most effective managers
  • helping managers implement their development plans & thus continually improve the engagement of their teams

Any organization not proactively addressing employee engagement is ‘leaving a lot of money on the table’ – and who can afford that?

 

Part Three: Supervisors with Dead Batteries Aren’t Able to Jumpstart Anyone

 

 If your CEO were told that your company’s best customer was considering doing business with a competitor, he/she would undoubtedly react in short order. If your employees are a significant asset, shouldn’t the engagement of that asset also be a priority?

 

Creating a culture of employee engagement involves a three-level approach:

  • Level 1 Your leadership team defining your organization’s engagement strategy & igniting its execution. Managers with highly engaged leaders are nearly 40% more engaged.
  • Level 2 Employee engagement is the energy behind employee performance – with supervisors & managers serving as the catalysts. Every interaction a supervisor has with an employee is an opportunity to engage & stimulate discretionary effort. Employees’ feeling valued & appreciated by their immediate supervisors is the primary determinant of engagement. But supervisors with dead batteries aren’t able to jumpstart anyone.
  • Level 3 It’s difficult for leaders to objectively know how front-line employees view their relationships with their supervisors. Employee engagement surveys conducted with employees’ responses segmented by supervisor provide leaders with very actionable information.

 

 

Part Four: A Leader Who Faced the Music Even though He Didn’t Like the Tune

Under Doug Conant, the former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, the company reversed its decline in market value, improved its financial position & enhanced its relationship with its customers. When asked how, Conant emphasized that engaging the workforce was an integral part of his strategy. He knew from experience that employee  engagement would work and that he had to lead the charge from the top.Today Campbell Soup:

  • Annually measures employee engagement corporate-wide
  • Trains its managers by providing practical techniques they can use to improve employee engagement
  • Holds managers accountable for improving their team’s level of engagement by tying managers’ merits,bonuses and promotions to those scores

Research has proven – and common sense tells us – that dissatisfied employees are less productive, care less about quality and increase the cost of doing business. Measuring employee engagement is analogous to going to the doctor – we never want to hear bad news. But GEA has consistently found that it’s better for managers to know and be able to react – than to not know.

This is Evidence of Age Discrimination?

Not sure I’m buying it.

Two out of three judges on a panel from my own U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed a jury verdict in favor of a woman who claimed that she was terminated because of her age.

I agree with the panel majority that some of the facts were arguably “iffy,” which generally means that they’re for the jury to decide. The plaintiff, who was 60, violated a workplace rule. But she had a plausible reason for what she had done, and the offense did not have to result in termination under the employer’s policies. And she’d been there for about 30 years and had been an overall satisfactory performer with only two unspecified “infractions.”

So there was that.

Also, her replacement was in her 30s.

So there was that.

But here is the part that bothered me. After the plaintiff was terminated and a supervisor was escorting her to her car, the supervisor said, “Oh, girl, you don’t have nothing to worry about. You’ll get another job. Just go home and take care of those grandbabies.”

The panel majority said that this “condescending and age-related” comment was evidence of age discrimination.

https://www.constangy.com/assets/htmlimages/Angry%20Woman.flickrCC.DavidJohns.jpg
“Really?”

Granted, the supervisor who said that is the one who had told the plaintiff that she was being terminated, and had signed the termination paperwork. However, it does not appear that she was a true “decision maker.” She was not the plaintiff’s direct supervisor, and there was apparently no evidence that she participated in making the decision to terminate the plaintiff’s employment. She communicated the termination decision because she was on site and the decision makers weren’t. In other words, it appears that her “involvement” was only pro forma.

I’m very well into the protected age group (have I told you about my grandson?), and I cannot see this comment as anything more than an attempt to offer a little comfort and kindness to a colleague who had just been fired after 30 years on the job. If the plaintiff had been 35 years old, I can easily imagine this supervisor saying, “Oh, girl, you don’t have nothing to worry about. You’ll get another job. Just go home and enjoy some quality time with your kids.”

And then she’d get sued for sex discrimination, I guess.

Does this mean that you can’t offer any words of encouragement to a terminated employee on his or her way out the door apart from “Goodbye, and good luck”?

If the person doing the escorting is “involved” in the termination decision — no matter how tangentially — the answer would seem to be yes.

PS – What about the fact that this supervisor also called the plaintiff “Girl,” and said she’d be able get another job? It seems to me that these cut against an inference of age discrimination.

 

BY ROBIN SHEA ON 5.31.19
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLC