Category Archives: Coaching

Coaching the Business Player: What’s Your Approach?


Golf ball on the edgeWhether we’re coaching a player on sales or service behaviours, or how to putt a ball correctly on the golf course, we are ultimately trying to get the player to perform their best. Coaching is about supporting players in the process of maximizing their potential, whether in sports or business.

However, even coaches need coaching when it comes to their approach. What I’ve discovered is that the best coaching sessions are often the ones where the player being coached gets to have a voice.

Let’s compare the coaching styles of an average coach vs. a top coach.

Although both coaches have relevant coaching feedback, the distinction between an average coach and top coach lies in their approach.

While the average coach is only interested in getting his or her feedback out there, the top coach might take a bit more time and makes the coaching session an interactive experience.

The average coach will usually tell his or her player, ‘this is what you did wrong, do better next time.’ This kind of feedback leaves the player feeling more confused than before. They know they’ve done something wrong, but are not sure how to fix it. In some cases, the player will just get defensive as all they will hear from the feedback is what they did wrong.

After the average coach’s session, the player leaves the session feeling demotivated, with a decrease in their self-esteem, perhaps even questioning if they need to find a new job.

On the other hand, the top coach opens up the forum for dialogue with the player.

The top coach may start the session by asking:

  • ‘How do you think you just did?’
  • ‘What were some of the positives?’
  • ‘What do you think could be improved upon or done differently next time?’

Would you agree with me that the top coach’s approach helps to maximize receptivity more than the average coach’s session? The top coach has a process for engaging his or her player in the coaching session. The player feels that they are being heard and learning at the same time.

Once the player has assessed the session, the coach, as the key observer of his or her players, should provide feedback as well. But the player will likely have picked up on a lot of the key things on his or her own.

Therefore, the top coach’s approach helps to further increase the appetite for coaching sessions. Ultimately, this type of coaching will more swiftly change a player’s behaviour towards the desired outcome.

In coaching, it’s not just the content that’s important, but the presentation as well. Like any other skill, coaching is one that has to be acquired and practiced. To be a top coach, even a world-standard coach, we must be willing to be coached ourselves…and willing to continually improve.

Your thoughts?

Neda Bayat is Global Business Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. and Breakthrough PerformanceTech, LLC.

The Magic Wand Principle


My 22-year-old son will receive a Master of Public Administration degree next month. Like many people his age, he has taken a job unrelated to his education with a reputable (transportation) company. He wears a tie and dress shirt to work every day. The Human Resources director has told him that he can wear a casual shirt, but he continues to sport the tie. So I asked him why. First, he likes to dress up. Second, he is dressing for who he wants to be.

I will repeat that, dressing for “who he wants to be.” That is a very insightful philosophy that can be transferred to any aspect of life. Let’s take that concept and focus on the team that you manage. At Cohen Brown, we call this the Magic Wand principle. If you could wave the magic wand:

  • The team is excited and motivated to create an environment that supports the vision of your organization and knows the role they play to make the vision a reality.
  • Exemplary service behaviors are exhibited at every client/member interaction.
  • Every client/member walks away with the products and services that will enhance their financial lives or improve a financial aspect of their business.

Take a minute right now to wave the magic wand and list the three most critical behaviors your team can exhibit with outstanding excellence. Now, list the coaching techniques you can implement TODAY to support your team to become all they want and can be for their clients/members.

Let me know of any magical experiences this week!

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The Details Matter


My brother-in-law was a successful high school baseball coach for 30 years. During his coaching days, he mowed and prepared the field for play and ordered and repaired the equipment. He set expectations as to the players’ appearance. He taught in detail such things as how players should put on their socks, how a hat should sit on the head, how players should work the glove and store the glove when not being used. When it was practice time, his focus was on the players. The first five practices he would not let them use gloves. He wanted to be certain they could handle the ball. He videotaped the players’ swings and charted every pitch for the pitchers. He met with each player to discuss at least three positives and three areas of improvement based on the observations. He conducted separate practice sessions for players having difficulty with certain skills. During the game he watched every move so that when the players came off the field he could give them pointers and positive feedback. When they did something right, he exclaimed “good job” and patted players on the back. He analyzed the scorebook after the game and met with the players at the next practice to offer suggestions for improvement. He had them practice to the suggestions.

He was truly what coaching and the love of the game is all about.

Those are the techniques and the passion we need to emphasize as we coach our teams. I offer you five simple steps for developing a successful team.

  1. Prepare your team with detailed skill development
  2. Allow them to practice with someone: you, a peer, or a mentor. Role-play is the most effective form of practice because feedback can be provided immediately
  3. Set both numerical and behavioral goals, e.g. not just 3 additional products per account opening but a profile conducted with each interaction
  4. Observe “on the grass” – live, real-time observation
  5. Offer honest, detailed observational feedback. Without honest feedback, improper skills sets will be cemented into the behavior of your employee, which is not fair to the employee, to clients/members, or to your organization.

Let me know how these steps work for you.

By the way…Happy Spring and Play Ball!!!!!

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

If It’s So Obvious, Why Aren’t We Doing It?


Practice makes perfect. Some of us grew up hearing this phrase whenever we were learning anything new—whether it was playing the piano, learning algebra, or trying a new sport.

We accept the need for practice in these areas without question. We understand that continuing to practice and train is the only way to maintain a high standard of performance. But when it comes to our business life, we ignore the need for practice.

Professional athletes practice 40 or more hours a week for just a few hours on the field in the game. During their practice coaches are observing, modeling, and correcting performance in every skill required to play the game.

In business it seems the exact opposite is the norm. Team members receive a few hours of training a year for 40 hours a week in the game with clients. Okay, perhaps you also have regular, formal coaching sessions. But when was the last time you actually observed your team members interacting with clients and provided them with specific feedback on what they could do to improve?

The key to meaningful coaching that drives performance results is so obvious. It’s just like sports—it takes constant practice and the observation and feedback of a coach who’s focused on building the skills of his or her team.

Your thoughts?

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

Did You See That?


How many times do you hear someone tell you about a movie only to conclude, “You have to see it for yourself”? This happens to me all the time.

But how many times do you hear this in the context of your responsibilities as a leader and coach at work?

Outside of work, we rely on our eyes to inform us about what is going on. We believe that what we see is true…Seeing is Believing.

Isn’t the truth equally important in our responsibilities at work? But so many managers stay in their offices, believing that they can spot opportunity and effectively lead and coach based only on what people tell them or what the numbers say.

Professional sports coaches observe players in practice and during the game. You should do the same with your team.

Get up right now from behind your desk or laptop and go take a look.

Let me know what new truths you discover.

Your thoughts?

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

Providing Candid Feedback…Why Your Mother Told You Never to Lie


“Always tell the truth.”

Words of wisdom from my Mom and, likely, yours too.

I apply Mom’s advice to my daughter. When she asks me to review a school essay or listen to a presentation, I tell her the truth—what she has done well, what needs to be improved, and how to do so.

My daughter appreciates the truth. Why? Because the truth, good or bad or in between, can help her to achieve her full potential. Telling her everything’s perfect when it isn’t won’t help her write a better essay. Candid and constructive feedback that’s delivered in a caring manner will.

Likewise, great leaders and coaches provide honest feedback, because they want their team members to perform at their best.

Is your feedback candid, so your team members understand their growth potential, or is it so sugar-coated that you are inhibiting their development?

Remember Mom’s advice.

Your thoughts?

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

What are your sales and service teams really saying to clients?


I’ve been wondering lately about what conversations between bankers and their clients sound like these days. Let’s face it, the financial crisis changed the way people regard banking and it hasn’t been a positive change.

If you haven’t prepared your sales and service team to handle the difficult conversations occurring in the market today you’re probably setting them up for failure. Chances are good that there’s fear on the front line and your team may be coping in a variety of less than ideal ways.

You may find that they’re avoiding client conversations and no longer proactively attempting to uncover their customers’ needs and provide solutions. You may hear them become defensive when asked about bank policies or fees. Worse, they may actually side with the customer against the bank!

It’s time we faced the fact that we’re operating in a brand new environment that requires skills and learning that we either haven’t provided or if we did, our teams have forgotten.

There are solutions. Some are discussed in an article recently published in Banking Strategies Managing the Conversation with Unhappy Customers.

Listen to what your team members are saying and let me know what you hear.

For more information and detailed solutions join our complimentary webinar, How to Overcome Fear at the Front Line on January 18th at 10:00 a.m. PST. Click here to register.

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