Monthly Archives: December 2011

Why Don’t Top Performers Want to Be Coached?


‘Top performers don’t want to be coached.’

Now that’s an awfully big statement with a lot of assumptions. But in business, I’ve heard it over and over again.

Watching Cadel Evans in the Tour de France, I couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer skill and tenacity of the bicyclist, his ability to endure one of the world’s toughest climbs and set up his final day triumph.

How much of a part did coaching play in his win?

I am sure if you asked Cadel, or other top athletes, they would all say that coaching is not just a part of their success, it is key.

So why should it be any different in the business world?

Think of the world’s top CEOs. Does anyone think they have not received coaching? I would bet that the top performers in business, as in sports, both understand the need for and seek out coaching. Anything that can give them an edge is welcome.

‘Hallelujah! Top performers do in fact want to be coached.’

But, let’s say you’re a top performer in business looking for a coach to take you to the next level, where do you turn? This is where the story goes awry. We know that too often our top performers are being coached, not by a specialist but by someone who has been given the responsibility regardless of capability or motivation—which is a recipe for disaster.

Coaching is not for everyone, it is a specialist role requiring specialist skills and it must be seen and positioned that way. The skill of the coach is just as critical to success as the willingness of the performer.

Top performers do want to be coached but they want to be coached by Top Coaches!

Your thoughts?

Stephen Parsons is Regional Director Asia Pacific for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Becoming an Agent of Change – Tips for Moving Your Organization Forward


change-happens, leadership, resultsChange doesn’t happen on its own. It is accomplished by leaders who consistently cause others to change their behavior such that results go up. These leaders don’t just look for nods of agreement when they speak, because nodding heads alone don’t translate into results. Rather, they focus on what people actually say and do, because that’s what impacts results.

Here are four tips for becoming an Agent of Change:

1. Think “what do I want them (him/her) to do more frequently, better, differently, or less often because of my intervention, such that results will improve?”

For example, Mary is about to lead a teleconference with her district managers about a new product the company is launching. The product benefits clients but also increases their fees.

Mary has decided that she wants the district managers to significantly increase the number of calls they make to key clients to explain the benefits of the new product. Mary will state her personal plan for calling on large clients and then share an expectation for the minimum number of client calls her managers need to complete in the next 10 days, along with how she will follow-up.

2. Expect resistance. This doesn’t mean “expect the worst.” Just accept the reality that anytime you want people to do more, or do things differently, or even do less of the things they are already comfortable doing, they will resist.

Mary knows that calendars are full and some district managers don’t like the new product. Mary has anticipated their concerns (starting with “I just don’t have time”) and determined what she will say and do to overcome them.

3. Decide what changes you will make in your own personal behavior to be a more effective Agent of Change, and make them.

Mary realizes she needs to better role-model what she expects her district managers to do. That’s one reason she’ll be at the forefront of personally making client calls about the new product and then sharing her experiences during debriefs with her team.

4. Give yourself the Behavior Change Test. Anytime you intervene with anyone, ask yourself, “Did my intervention change their behavior in such a way that we are closer to attaining desired results?”

If you are a true Agent of Change, your answer will be “Yes.”

Your thoughts?

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

Positively Speaking – It’s All About How You Say It


birdMy family had an annual ritual of picking and freezing beans. My mom and dad grew their own vegetables every year, and we all pitched in to help.

One year, we were in the middle of putting all the clean, cut beans into little freezer bags when my mom screamed, “Stop!” In the middle of one box, the bags were not marked with the word “freezer.” Not putting the beans in “freezer” bags meant freezer burn!

My dad found the company’s 1-800 number and proceeded to call. Now I started screaming because I knew no one would have any inkling what he was talking about. I begged him not to call. I told him we could just use another box, but he insisted on finding out if the beans were going to be safe.

As he started talking to the woman, he began nodding, taking a bag in his fingers and rubbing it, engrossed in the conversation. What could she be saying to him? Was she laughing hysterically?

After he hung up the phone, my dad told me what happened on the call. Instead of responding with “how would I know?” or “I don’t work in the plant, get another box,” she was explaining to him in a very positive way that by feeling the weight of the bags he would be able to tell if they would be safe for the precious beans or not. She was positive about the situation and had a very caring tone.

Because she framed her response in such a positive way, my Dad felt great about his conversation and that company. I on the other hand felt ashamed that I had urged him not to call. The lesson for me was that a positive tone and words in just one simple response make a huge difference for the brand, the staff member and the customer.

My recommendation is to evaluate the tone and words used with every customer interaction and eliminate the negatives because we are all the voice of the brand at that moment when dealing with customers. It takes a little practice to frame negatives into positives but when the right words and tone come together, it’s a win-win.

P.S. The beans were the best ever!

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

What Floats Your Boat? Finding the Key to What Motivates Members of Your Team


Think about what motivates you for a second. Now imagine that your motivation level is a balloon car. You get lifted by various external and internal forces (balloons), and you get pulled down by others (sandbags). As a boss you need to find out what lifts up or drags down your people. This up and down movement is a constant, dynamic interaction and rarely, if ever, a static situation.

Here are some Motivators to work with:

Dreams and goals

This is a very large and powerful balloon. It is a key to determining what will make a person perform at the highest level. Typically, we don’t ask our employees about their dreams and goals, but the truth is, you not only need to understand them, you need to drill down to get specifics. It is important to understand your team members’ goals and how they link to your business.

Recognition and reward

Although interpersonal recognition may be one of the most effective balloons, it is still the most under-utilised motivator. Determine what type of recognition best motivates your team members – is it letters? verbally thanking them? gift cards? etc. Do they appreciate public recognition or private?

Belief and hope

Belief reflects an individual’s internal feelings and attitudes about the capability to implement or execute a given process. Hope is the external manifestation of belief. Together, belief and hope create commitment. They are critical for every coach because they make work life significantly more satisfying and fulfilling.

Respected participation and taking ownership

Generally, the more people are involved in the decision-making process and the more they feel their voices have been heard and their opinions matter, the more motivated they will be. This involvement will motivate your team members to exceed expectations.

And remember, all performers—middle managers, senior personnel, and high performers—need to be motivated! It’s your job to find the best way.

Your thoughts?

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management (Europe) Ltd.