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Monday, July 27, 2009

Management 10

Q: Hey, I had a look at to see what I could find on Business Coaching. I didn't realize that coaching was such a big thing.

A: How do you mean?

Q: Well there are certification bodies, and many specialties for coaches, and just a lot going on in that world, all over the world.

A: That's right. There's lots of help available once you start to look for it. And asking for help doesn't mean one is not smart or capable – actually the opposite. The most successful folks are those who have gotten help: hired competent people to support them, taken training, engaged coaches and consultants whenever needed.

Q: OK; but we didn't talk about cost. Aren't coaches and consultants expensive?

A: Not nearly as much as lawyers and plumbers! :)
But seriously, expensive consultants may get the financial press, but like everything else, one gets what one pays for. For example some of the most expensive coaches and consultants only take payment when the client declares the coaching to be successful.
And in general, while an hourly or daily rate might appear high, that has to cover all the learning, preparation, certification, business operations, etc. time that is not on the bill. So if it took 8 hours to prepare and deliver a 1 hour session, the achieved income is at the rate of 1/9 of what is billed. Believe me, it would be so deliciously wonderful, if consultants earned their published rate throughout a whole week or month.

Q: That sounded pretty personal. :)

A: OK – got me.
Unfortunately, the perceived high cost versus return is often a factor in the “easy”, but dumb, budget cuts that we talked about last time. The good news is that people who have been smart enough to use a coach or consultant – and some can provide both services – know the return is worth it. There are many studies that show results like:
"PWC Global Survey of Coaching Clients Reveals Median 7X ROI
  • 86 percent of companies that use or have used coaching report at least a 100 percent return on their initial investment
  • 82.7 percent, of individuals who have experienced professional coaching report being "very satisfied".
Q: Neat! Those are great stats.
What other ways are there for me to learn to become a good manager?

A: One is finding a good mentor in your own organization. This is kind of like having an assistant coach to whom you can turn for questions and advice who is close by and knows the organization well and the players involved.

Q: It's interesting that you used the term “assistant coach” - why?

A: Because a professional coach is well trained, certified by an independent body, follows a particular approach or model that has been proven to be successful over time.
A mentor is more like a good friend. They may be wise, insightful, friendly, have the best intentions, but there is no assurance of a professional approach. They are making it up as they go along.

Q: OK – so it's back to “you get what you pay for”?

A: Exactly. Having a good mentor is very helpful, if only as a sounding board for your concerns, ideas, issues.
If you are feeling sick, your grandmother can provide some really good chicken soup which picks you right up, or you can go to your doctor for a more complete, systematic check up. Both have their place, both can get results, one is just more thorough with an assurance of longer term benefit.

Q: So, if I'm trying to become a good manager, what do you recommend?

A: Pay attention to all of these aspects – research & training, clarity of your role and expectations, practice, and asking for help.
We've covered the principles of managing – the key elements, the need to be clear with your manager what he or she is asking of you, the benefit of practicing the elements and learning from your mistakes, and the importance of asking your own manager for help on how you are doing, and help in improving through mentoring, or a coach.

Q: And are there some essentials that are not to be missed?

A: Understanding yourself and your own values, and being open and curious. Connecting, communicating continuously, including asking for help allows you to be investigative and adaptive, and to be understood.
Managing is a people activity, and so requires connecting well with people – understanding and being understood. The foundation is fundamentally good two way communications, starting with good listening – truly hearing the other person.
Management decisions directly affect the people being managed, so it is critical to know and appreciate how they are going to be affected, and that comes from understanding them and their perspective.
Asking for help enables those conversations, builds those connections and relationships, that provides you that knowledge.

Q: So is there a way I can work on connecting and asking for help?

A: Absolutely! Check out the Core Protocols at, and attend a BootCamp to build your skills.

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