Tag Archives: coaching

Now what?

Flat tirePssssssssss – the dreaded sound of air leaking out of my tire. Nothing can ruin the best planned bike ride as a slow leak in my tire. I pump it up, it looks good but a few miles later I am slowing down. Stuck on the side of the road and the precious air that I work so hard to pump in is escaping.

Leaders face the same issue when building a diverse workforce. You work hard to expand your recruiting pool. Your organization weeds out selection practices that unfairly penalize diverse candidates. You hire an increasingly diverse team but you notice over time that you lose more of your diverse employees. All that work leaking away like air out of a tire! Now what?

Josh Bersin, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, encourages leaders to focus on providing training and support for all your people to make your organization irresistible ,  one that people won’t want to leave. Bersin cites research that reinforces the importance of development activities and opportunities for growth as a key determinant of retention, particularly for new hires. A starting point is formal training that leads to competence and success in their current role. Your willingness to provide the time and support of training demonstrates your commitment to your new employees. As important are the more informal development opportunities you provide through:

  • Developmental and stretch assignments
  • On-the-job training
  • Lateral assignments
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching

Focusing on professional development and formal and informal growth opportunities will patch the leaks in your organization and help you keep the people you have worked so hard to recruit and hire.

Todd Thorsgaard



Do you have two minutes?

heat_20120607142627_640_480It is over 90 degrees and humid in Minnesota this week. When you step outside it is important to stay focused on your goal and minimize wasted effort, otherwise the oppressive heat can overwhelm you. The same thing can happen when coaching the poor performance of a member of your team.  You feel the heat of the upcoming interaction and avoid taking action or you get overwhelmed and distracted while trying to coach. Either way, you end up drained and the oppressive issue is still hovering “outside” waiting for you.

When you know you have to face the heat and take action I have found that a simple process that helps leaders stay focused and dive in. It’s called the Two Minute Challenge based on The Practical Coach training program. There are only five steps:

  1. State what you’ve observed – what happened.
  2. Wait for their response.
  3. Remind them of the desired behavior, expected performance or goal.
  4. Ask for their specific solutions.
  5. Agree on a solution.

No more, no less! The magic of having a short “script” keeps the coaching focused on the behavior and a solution. It is a roadmap that can provide confidence to start the conversation and the clarity needed to stay on track during the heat of the interaction.

A short time ago I received a call from a leader who told me that he had been dreading meeting with one of his team members. There was a performance issue and he was worried about how the person would react when he addressed it. After learning The Two Minute Challenge he decided to jot down the five steps on his note pad and have the meeting the next day. He stuck to his plan, followed the steps and the meeting did not spiral out of control. It wasn’t fun, but they stayed on track and came up with a realistic plan for improvement. He shared that the meeting ended up being less stressful than the anxiety he experienced worrying about it. He was also confident that the team member understood the importance of the issue and his responsibility for taking action. The five clear steps kept him from getting distracted and able to keep the focus on the employee’s behavior and accountability for improvement.

When you are facing the heat of needing to coach a poor performer take a cool two minute break, review the five steps and then dive in!

Todd Thorsgaard

The value of good coaching

A few years ago, I got myself into a tricky situation. When I was leaving work, I entered the parking garage and realized it was going to be impossible to enter my car. There was less than an inch between my minivan and the neighboring cars, both on the driver and passenger side. I had parked in a hurry that morning, and as a result, not well.

I managed to enter the van through the tailgate and climbed ungraciously over the rows of seats toward the front. But the real trouble started when I tried to back out of the stall. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t back out without fear of denting both my car and the neighboring cars. Panic started to set in as I envisioned explaining to my spouse why our van had an enormous scrape along its side and explaining to the owner of one of the neighboring cars, why there was a matching scrape on their car.

At that moment, when I was stuck contemplating my options―none of which seemed good―a kind person appeared in the parking garage and asked me if I would like some help. Patiently, she guided me out of the stall, letting me know how far I could turn my wheel to exit at the perfect angle, and when to straighten the car out, so that I could back out of the space. I thanked her profusely.

I also left work that day thinking about how valuable her coaching had been to me and how we all need help from a coach at some point in our work lives. 

Coaching can be useful in many situations.

In a jam or a difficult situation, expert coaching can give us an outside perspective. Sometimes we’re too close to a situation or our perspective is clouded by emotion or past baggage. A coach can help us reframe a situation and think of appropriate responses. (Without the outside perspective of my coach in the parking garage, I might not have gotten out of that jam unscathed.)

If we’re doing something new, like starting a new job or learning a new task, a coach can provide critical support. They can connect us with valuable resources, provide guidance in practicing new skills, build our confidence by reminding us of our strengths, and provide a much-needed sounding board.

When we’re wanting to improve an existing skill, coaches can provide important feedback about our performance and suggest steps that will help us be the best we can be.

 How do you find a good coach?

Many of us find good coaches in our managers and supervisors. They are invested in our good performance and are often able to help us succeed. We can also find coaches in our colleagues. We can connect with peers by:

  • Joining a networking group or professional organization in our discipline
  • Meeting with someone who does our job in another institution or organization
  • Searching out coworkers who have a certain skill we want to learn or information that we need

More and more, in the workplace today, professional coaches are also being used to help employees succeed, especially during times of transition into leadership positions.

Coaching is an excellent tool to increase your self awareness and leadership effectiveness. If you’ve used a coach before, I encourage you to share what have you learned as a result. If you haven’t, what areas of your work or life might benefit from some coaching?

Anita Rios