Monthly Archives: August 2011

Finding the Sweet Spot – Coaching Beyond the Numbers


logo_for_the_sweet_spot_by_dkrouts-d4748vcFootball season is about to start in the U.S.…which brings to mind a huge difference between coaching in sports and in business.

Successful football coaches know how to hit the Sweet Spot. In business, coaches typically don’t.

What’s the Sweet Spot?

It’s the balance between “numbers and plans” coaching and “observations and skills” coaching.

Think of it this way. A football coach knows the numbers…the stats and score in the game. The coach also has a plan for execution of plays needed to win the game.

But football coaches also intensely observe the behavior of their athletes on the field. How well they throw, catch, run, block and tackle. This prepares the coaches to provide specific advice to help players improve their performance and win.

How valuable would the football coach’s advice to players be during halftime if the coach spent the first half of the game in the locker room?

In sports, we expect coaches to watch players in action and tell them what they can do to improve their skills.

Unfortunately, in business we accept much less.

Is your boss spending the game in the locker room?

Scarier yet, if you lead others, are you?

Next time you watch your favorite athletic competition, watch how the coaches are watching the players…

And then aim for the sweet spot to better coach your team to victory.

Your thoughts?

Julie Freeman is Regional Director for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The Rubber Band Principle


SNAP! Goes the Rubber Band

Photo courtesy of Bill Ebbesen

Photo courtesy of Bill Ebbesen

Have you ever been on a diet or started an exercise program? Everything is

going great—you start losing weight, you feel yourself getting fitter. Then, you have a “day off”. Maybe it’s a big night out or you just take a break from the routine. You think, no problem, I’ll get back to it tomorrow. The next day arrives, and something else comes up, and before you know it you’re back where you started. Sound familiar? This is known as the Rubber Band Principle.

Behaviour changes, like eating differently or doing more exercise, that you think are “locked in” can snap back to baseline as quickly and as surely as a stretched rubber band will snap back once you let go. And no matter how long you stretch that rubber band (providing you keep it oiled), it will always snap back.

This principle also applies to building and sustaining a sales and service culture. Everyone operates at a certain comfort level. It’s a band of comfort, emotionally and with respect to skills. When you ask people to step out of that skill level and start doing things more frequently, better or differently than what they’re used to, it’s a stretch, it hurts. The mistake is believing, after a few weeks of change, that they’re over the hill now in a positive way, that it will last. The moment you turn your back, behavior will snap back to the comfort level. It may take a week or two, but it will regress. Be aware of this and manage to it. Keep the rubber band stretched.

Your thoughts?

Gerry Dwarshuis is a Senior Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The Peaks and Valley Nightmare


behavior, trainingOver the years I’ve heard a recurring theme from the sales and service leaders to whom I’ve spoken. They express frustration that the time and investment they make in training doesn’t seem to generate the return or the outcome they expected.

Sound familiar?

Perhaps you hired a well-respected training vendor or used your internal learning and development resources to develop sales and service training for your frontline teams.

You made the investment – in time and money. The training was well received. Mission accomplished!

Wrong. A few weeks later you found that little changed. There may have been an initial uptick in performance, but this quickly peaked and fell back to previous levels. We call this the Peaks and Valley Nightmare.

To avoid the Peaks and Valley Nightmare and ensure you get a positive ROI from your investment, remember that the goal of any training initiative is to build skills capability and ultimately change behavior. With that in mind be sure to:

Clearly define success – both in terms of the expected outcome and qualitative and quantitative measures. This includes defining metrics to measure success and ensuring there’s a baseline against which to measure progress.

Make sure your vendor or internal provider can answer the following questions:

  • How will managers be involved in the process?
  • How will managers follow up with their team members?
  • How will they support the organization to ensure objectives are met?
  • What tools and techniques are included to help frontline leaders embed new skills and master key sales and service behaviors after the training intervention?

Develop a plan of action or a blueprint to continue to develop the skills and behaviors required to achieve and sustain peak performance.

Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight and lasting behavior change is rarely if ever the result of a one-off training intervention. It requires reinforcement, practice and embedding processes and diligent management – forever.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.