Tag Archives: coaching


by Claudia Irmer


A while back I attended a training course on perfecting coaching skills for a specific target audience: executive managers. It was an illustrious circle of high-profile and skilled individuals who were there to learn from one of the leading coaches in this area.

During one of the sessions an attendee—let me call him John—shared the difficulties he has at his workplace: his boss tends to give him a task and expects him to complete it quickly, but then she interrupts him all the time. John was helpless as to how to deal with her. As we were having a break and enjoying our coffees, he turned to me: “Claudia, I’ve come to know you as an empathetic yet straightforward person. How would you handle this situation?”

Admittedly, this is a tricky situation. How do you tell your boss to back off, so you can finish the tasks she gives you? One thing was clear to me from the beginning: he needed to speak with his boss! But the point was how he would phrase it – “winging it” would not be helpful as his future career was at stake. I then remembered the scripting technique we teach in our Structured Time and Workflow Management programme.

I shared the following steps with John:

  1. What are the key points you want to convey to your boss? Jot them down.
  2. Rank them in the order of priority.
  3. Script your message to each of the key points in the 1st person; conform to these rules:
    • Be truthful.
    • Be simple, clear and articulate.
    • Speak from the heart.
  4. Rehearse!
    • You need to hear yourself say, out loud, what you have scripted.
    • The more often you practice your script, the more confident and professional you will feel.

John and I did the scripting exercise and rehearsed it several times – and the next time we saw each other, he shared the successful use of his script!

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.






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 POWER of Delegating

There is an unhealthy tree in my yard that I have been babying for the last two years. It finally bit the dust this spring. I decided to purchase a chainsaw and put it down myself. Off I went to my local home improvement store and back home to begin reading the instructions for my new equipment. Lots of cautions—“be totally covered”, “wear steel-toe shoes”—what had I gotten myself into? I filled it with oil and gas then tried to start it, but it wouldn’t even let out a putter! Way too much power for me! Into the store I went with this monster, and when the associate asked what was wrong with it, I replied “the user.” She smiled. Luckily, she allowed me to return it.

How does this relate to you as a coach? Delegation. You have to know when it is time to let someone else help you. Delegation is a great time-management tool. Another benefit of delegation is cross-training, which will increase results through specialization. What you will see is increased teamwork as others become capable of completing tasks. Delegation can also have an impact on the motivation of the team. Their skill levels increase, there is less frustration, and motivation increases.

You have to make delegation emotion-free. This means you have to let go of the control. That can be a big obstacle for many of us.

Let me offer you some tips for delegation.

  1. Pre-delegation Analysis
    • What will you delegate and why?
    • To whom (individual or team)?
    • When?
    • Duration of the delegation? (Permanent or time-limited as a “favor”?)
  1. Delegation
    • Clarify expectations
      • Provide specific instructions
    • Motivate with positive reinforcement
    • Train and coach
      • Share Proven Best Practices
      • Retrain when necessary
  1. Post-delegation Follow-up
    • Track results
    • Inspect what you expect
    • Build in sufficient lead time to check on progress

However, as we say at Cohen Brown, you can “delegate, but never abdicate.”

Let me know your thoughts.

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

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.

Five Questions to Ask Your Team

It’s been a difficult few years in financial services. Trust in banks and bankers has been eroded, and consumers are coping with a new economic reality. In fact, all the media bashing of banks and the resulting customer unrest and churn has resulted in a huge opportunity for savvy bankers to acquire new customers and improve retention of their existing customer base.

Is your team prepared? To assess your frontline team’s ability to acquire and retain clients in the current environment, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. What are your bankers saying to clients to differentiate your bank from your competitors? Is there a consistent message that accurately reflects your brand?
  2. What type of customer-focused training has been provided to your bankers to address the public’s growing concern with the banking industry?
  3. How often is your frontline team observed and coached in the art of conducting a quality customer conversation designed to uncover needs?
  4. When was the last time your management team received training in coaching and customer-service skills?
  5. What formalized process is currently in place to reinforce and embed key sales and service behaviors?

Let us know your thoughts and the questions you’re asking your team.

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for 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.