May 19

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: 4 qualities to look for in your coach

qualities-in-your-coachYou’ve poured over your company’s balance sheets and attempted every in-house training you can think of — but your business still seems shaky.

Solution: Now may be the time to bring in a business coach, says Gary Hensen, president and founder of A coach can help you “focus on your goals, make concrete plans, and work towards executing them in an effective manner,” he explains.

Remember: Not every coach is created equal. Look for these professional qualities in yours:

  • Accountability. Your coach’s job is to whip you and your employees into shape. That means he must be accountable for pushing you toward excellence — but it also means that he must help you be more accountable for the decisions you make each day. How: A business coach might ask you to list your duties and responsibilities, and their effect on the company. Then he might help you prioritize and streamline your obligations so that they are more effective.
  • Open communication. When you hire a coach for your company, you must ensure that he communicates his ideas and strategies effectively. For instance, if he wants to make a change, he should be able to explain concisely why the change is important, how it will happen, and what bumps you’ll encounter in the process. Best: Before you sign a coaching contract, take a few days to interact with the coach. Does he respond effectively to emails or telephone calls? Do you understand what he hopes to help you accomplish? If not, you may want to keep looking.
  • Strategic planning. Anyone can tell you what you’re doing wrong, but a good business coach will also help you figure out ways to correct those problems and get your company moving in the right direction. Do this: Ask a potential coach to share a few of the winning strategies he has developed for other companies. Find out what challenges he overcame to develop that successful plan.
  • Leadership development. Your coach isn’t just a problem solver — he should also a teacher. Ask him how he’ll turn your employees into leaders.
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Dec 23

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Workshop a winning strategy

workshop-a-winning-strategyWinning strategies don’t fall out of the sky, even if some companies make their strategies seem effortless.

Unfortunately, many executives fail to make strategic planning a core part of their business. “More than 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour each month discussing strategy and 50 percent spend no time at all,” says business strategist Rich Howarth.

Problem: Without strategic planning, your company has no path to follow or goal to shoot for. You can resolve this problem by dedicating a few hours each month for a strategy workshop to jump-start staff morale and hammer out a plan for your company’s future.

“Strategy workshops create a shared understanding of your business, get your employees thinking creatively and help you reinforce key concepts, tools and frameworks,” Howarth notes. Here’s a four-step plan to help you run a workshop that kickstarts the strategists in your company:

Step 1: Set a goal for the workshop. You never want to enter a workshop without sharing what you hope to accomplish. Clear direction and purpose will set a course for your employees to follow.

Try this:Create a workshop agenda that agenda that outlines your goals, potential obstacles and timelines. Then use the agenda to keep everyone focused during the meeting.

Crucial:Don’t force your staffers to follow the agenda line by line. Rather, use it as a guide and allow the discussion and ideas to develop organically.

Step 2: Know who is participating. Each department or team in your company needs a representative at the strategy workshop so that you develop a comprehensive plan for the entire organization. Yet, you don’t need to include senior-level executives in a middle-management planning session.

Best: Use your strategy workshop as a sounding board for what others need to know about. For instance, if you want to try a new initiative, hone it with other supervisors and then present it to your superiors. Otherwise, your boss may get bogged down in details that you can sort through on your own.

Step 3:Do some pre-workshop preparation. If you’re like most leaders, you only have a few hours a month to dedicate to strategic planning. Rather than waste valuable time considering different options, identify a few agenda items before the workshop, and then notify workshop participants in advance so they can start thinking about these items. That way, your participants will have worked through their ideas and can spend the session in discussion.

Try this: Distribute a strategy survey that lists the most important topics you’d like to tackle. Ask your participants to add any subjects they want to discuss. Then use this survey as a guide to writing your agenda and preparing your employees for the meeting.

Extra: You may also want to assign some research for your workshoppers. For example, if they need to understand a certain theory or concept, direct them to where they can find the information, and let them know what level of understanding they’ll need to participate.

Step 4: Call to action. Don’t let anyone leave your workshop without a copy of your strategic plan. Outline who’s responsible for which items and set a date for follow-up reporting. This way, everyone knows what they can do to ensure your company thrives.

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