Tag Archives: motivation

Motivation: Sometimes One Sentence Is Enough…

You will be okA few years ago on a Sunday morning I went into the forest for a walk. From the opposite direction, a woman came running up. She was plump, flushed and sweaty. To my “good morning” she puffed “ooh ooh” back and tried to produce what looked like a smile. Her running shoes were shining white and clearly new. She wore an exciting vest in black with fluorescent green stripes along the side, which I found very nice.

About ten minutes later she passed me again. This time her shoulders and her smile were drooping. In an attempt to cheer her up I called “You wear energetic colors!” “Well,” she said, “but the walk is not so energetic…” “You will be okay, I see that you have character,” I responded.

I had forgotten the incident until two months ago.

I went walking in the forest again, and a woman I greeted turned around and started walking beside me. “I should really thank you,” she said.

“For the ‘good morning’?” I replied, surprised.

She laughed: “Because you got me motivated.”

It turns out she was the woman I’d  spoken with a few years ago. She needed to lose weight and decided to go on a diet and exercise. That Sunday morning had been her first day running. Her ex-boyfriend had said scornfully: “You? Sports?” And her family reacted with a giggly “You will never keep this up!”

“At the moment you passed me I believed them. ‘They’re right,’ I thought, ‘I can do nothing to persevere.’ But that one sentence ‘I see that you have character’, that did something for me. I kept running, I went to a dietician and I kept going. I now weigh 23 pounds less, and I’m training for the 20K of Brussels. That phrase has become my personal encouragement. If I have a difficult time, I tell myself ‘I know that I have character.’”

“Well done and I wish you good luck,” I said, surprised.

Since that day I met her a few more times. She always sends me a radiant smile. I’m her biggest fan.

Author: Carla De Boodt, Internal Cohen Brown Leadership and Sales & Service Specialist of bpost, Belgium
Reactions to Brenda Schäfer , Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.


They Dress Up for Work Now

Tatooed BankerConfidence is a funny thing; it affects people in different and unexpected ways. For a client call center, I was helping to train a group of new and young team leaders, and we were focusing on a leadership week. The structure to the week and the detail needed for driving results through behaviors was sometimes a challenge.

As this client has a casual work environment, filled with tattoos, earrings, jeans, t‑shirts, sunglasses, and spiky hair, we didn’t have any plans to change appearance, just behaviors. The four individuals who I was working with were hip, young, team leaders in the call center who had recently been promoted from reps.

We wanted to demonstrate that a written weekly leadership plan could drive the right behaviors and the right results, so basically they were our pilot group within this large center.

When piloting a new initiative, we like to take people with positive attitudes who will give the ideas and concepts a real go. So we started with weekly teleconferences to define the right activities in their plans and commit them to paper. Getting a great plan that delivered results took about four months, as we incorporated a completely new structure with meetings, coaching sessions, daily briefings and debriefings, objections clinics, etc., to meet current business objectives.

After we got into the plans and their results improved, team morale improved as well, and, most importantly, their confidence in their new roles increased. With that came a remarkable and voluntary transformation, their appearance. When I returned for a visit six months later, they all greeted me in dress trousers, dress shirts—no sunglasses, no ripped jeans, and no t-shirts.

I asked if they had dressed up just for me, and, boy, was I wrong. “No,” they responded, “We dress up every day because we feel we have now earned the right to be team leaders and we want to look the part.”

I never suspected that writing down a weekly leadership plan would have such impact on someone in the workplace, but it really helped “dress up” these team leaders and their performance.

Your thoughts?

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

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 Positive Reinforcement! (What makes people smile?)

– How often do I get a compliment? –

– How often do I give a compliment? –

These two questions came to my mind after visiting one of the Regional Managers of a client.

I observed his sales meeting, and I asked him if he wanted to have my feedback. The first thing he said to me was, “Yes, please. Tell me what I did wrong.” I didn’t react to that, and I started the way I always do, by giving him a compliment based on what I had observed.

The expression on his face went from a serious, waiting-to-hear-what-went-wrong expression to a very big smile. When I asked him why he was smiling, he said, “I didn’t expect to get a compliment. I don’t get many compliments.”

Positive reinforcement is a key motivator and costs nothing to implement. But even more important, with positive reinforcement you show you care!

What makes positive reinforcement more effective? REDR:


Elaborate with



Base your compliments on facts.

Back to the questions I started with, here is my honest answer:

– How often do I get a compliment? –

– Never often enough –

– How often do I give a compliment? –

– Not yet enough, but more and more, because I care! –

What about you?

Brenda Schäfer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

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.

Ten Steps to Better Performance

leadership processIf cooking is your thing, you know that you have to follow certain steps for your recipe to turn out right. The right ingredients need to marinate, rise, set, simmer, or blend properly for success in the kitchen.

At Cohen Brown, we don’t teach cooking, but we do support our clients in leading and managing their teams to perform optimally on a consistent basis. So what are the key steps that business leaders and managers can take to coax the highest performance levels from their teams?

The steps are discussed in our Ten-Step Leadership Model:

Vision: Next time you pass one of your colleagues or direct reports, ask them if they know what the company’s vision is. If they don’t, then it’s time to get back to basics. A Vision nobody can remember, or one that’s just mere words on the company website, is as good as worthless. A good way to make the bigger, Company Vision come to life, is by asking “What does this vision mean to me in my role and how does my daily focus contribute to this vision?” People strive when they believe in and own the Vision.

Goals: These are the numerical producers of your Vision. Ask yourself, where do you want to be? And when do you want to get there? Once you and your people set specific Goals, you’ll be compelled to move forward.

Plans: Isn’t it worth planning how you’ll achieve those Goals? I suppose you could completely skip over the planning part and act out all your impulses, but you’ll probably find that you’re experiencing more perspiration than success (or) intended results. Don’t ignore this step. Don’t get too complex with it. Just do it and do it consistently.

Actions: Now that you have your plan, hit that ground running, engage that clutch, do a little dance if you need to. You might be a brilliant planner, but I have to admit the Chinese Proverb says it best: “Talk don’t cook rice.” Or, as Cohen Brown says, “Execution is the chariot of Genius.” Don’t just sit on it. Do something. Engage that Plan!

Results Tracking: You need to find out what’s happening, what’s working, what’s not working, and if you’re reaching your goals. That way, you’ll know what you need to do to refine your Plans and increase productivity. And…you’ll discover Success stories, hence, Proven Best Practices that can be cross-pollinated to others.

Follow Up & Provide Feedback: As a leader, manager or coach, you should provide feedback because that’s what you’re there for. This is your chance to give advice, remind people of their goals, re-direct people who’ve gone off course and show you care.

Motivation: Take it from me, if you follow these steps, you’ll be increasing motivation far more than incentive compensation can do on its own…but getting financial remuneration isn’t too bad either! Just make sure your company’s incentive plan actually reinforces the right behaviours!

Resource Management: Manage your space, budgets, time and people as if they were the last living and non-living resources left over on Planet Earth. In other words, stop blaming what you have or don’t have for not achieving your very best.

Relationship Techniques: You can also manage your work relationships effectively by using these ten steps. Build trust and rapport, know what motivates people, and you’ll surround yourself by those who not only report to you, but truly look up to you.

Well, there you have it. Now it’s up to you to implement these Ten Steps and experience the sweet rewards that come with them. And if you prefer to bake lemon meringue pie instead, don’t forget to add me to your guest list.

Your thoughts?

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

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.