This blog reflects ideas I've stumbled upon in my executive coaching practice helping clients deal with opportunities and problems.

The right way to deal with performance issues

My coaching clients often have to deal with a performance issue for one of their employees. Here’s a good paradigm for that.

When a performance issue appears you want to discover if

a] the employee is aware of the problem, agrees it is a problem and knows what good performance looks like, b] if they get it that a problem exists do they have the right motivation to do something about it and c] if they are motivated do they have the know-how or skills to fix the problem.

When you know the all of the above you can then attack the problem correctly. Most often you’ll have to work on skills or motivation or some other attitude. But there will be times when the employee just needs to know you’re serious about them getting right it. And there may even be time when something in their working conditions will have to change.

What sense does it make to complain

While reading this wonderful book I came across this quote which attracted my attention.

“People make a great mistake when they never complain. Whatever they gain by patience they lose in honesty. Conversations begin to ring false. Suspicions are aroused. Resentments multiply. Relationships are poisoned.”

It’s a great summary of the reasons to be assertive. When people don’t complain it means they are not assertive. And that means they’re either endlessly passive or graduate to aggressive when they boil over from not getting what they want. It’s a lot more than complaining, of course. There are many reasons to speak up.

So what are your opportunities to speak up assertively. Complaining is one alternative. Not asking for a raise is another common way people are passive at work. Being clear about personal needs is sometimes avoided and usually unnecessarily so. Getting angry is a way people are aggressive after being passive too long while not being assertive.

Think about the ways you could benefit from being more assertive and get on with it.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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18 March 2015 ~ Comment

What are the goals of your goals?

Plotinus, the philosopher, is thought to have said that “if a man seeks the good life for any reason outside itself, it is not the good life he seeks”. I interpret this to mean that eventually our goals have to devolve to be about ourselves. It’s nice to say I want to earn one million dollars this year but better to know how you’ll use the cash to better your life – or the life of someone else.

Sales people in hard markets, like real estate and insurance, where lots of cold calls are needed must be motivated to do the hard work of all the cold contact. They are the kind of people who need to know their real rewards. It often isn’t worth earning more money if you’re not going to enjoy it. So they might actually go to the trouble of keeping a diary of what they want i.e. what they’d buy with money they earn. Keeping a diary with good descriptions of ‘the goals of your goals’ can be very motivating. Sample entry: I want a BMW X6 with the big engine, the complete winter package, the new audio package and I want it in yellow. It’s not unknown for salespeople to buy things they can’t afford to motivate them so they can make the payments.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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11 March 2015 ~ Comment

Petition Yourself With Prayer

I’m reading a wonderful novel where the main character is a Bishop in the Church of England. It’s got me thinking about prayer which is something I’ve never thought about before, except to avoid it.

I’ve discovered that one the many types of prayer is to petition God for something you want. For example, “God, please end war.” or “God, grant me the courage to face up to my fear of public speaking.”

The first of those two examples is something totally out of the petitioner’s control. The second of the two examples is something the petitioner can participate in by learning about where courage comes from and techniques to face difficulties. I’ve often thought that people who say a petition prayer like the second example before they go to sleep might engage their subconscious to work on the subject while they sleep.

I have a client right now who has a big need to ‘let go’ of the effect another person’s personality has on them. My client’s prayer could be “please help me find the shield to ignore x’s behavior, to just let it pass like a ship in the night.” Developing that prayer and repeating it when needed could be a powerful reminder to my client of what she must do. It will certainly augment the coaching discussion we had.

Can you think of a petition prayer you might be able to use effectively for yourself? I’ll be interested to hear any of your good ideas.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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15 January 2015 ~ Comment

Get what it’s like to be them

An executive coach needs empathy to see the world as their client’s do. It’s not just “do this, do that”.

Behavioral ecologist Jakob von Uexküll invented the notion that while our immediate environment is what it is – each of us sees and senses it differently depending on many factors, physical and psychological intertwined, not surprisingly.

Take the example of a woman walking her dog on a downtown street. While the woman will notice and react to things that interest and confront her; people, store windows, hazards in her path. The dog, differently, will revel in the wide variety of smells on fire hydrants, coming from restaurant exhausts and emanating from the sidewalk. Each could be floating in their own ‘bubble’ along the sidewalk one above the other.

This notion of seeing the world as if you’re in a different ‘bubble’ also helps hunters. Imagine hunting a bear thru a forest. It would be best to get in the bear’s head; understanding how they think and react to every stimulus. That would certainly be better than using your own experiences to judge what the bear will do. Likewise a coach who helps a client based on their, the coach’s, experiences, is not doing it right.

So I’m motivated to understand what my client is feeling. I want to know what makes them confident, scared, anxious, happy, etc. etc. etc. It’s hard and rewarding work. You can try it in many conversations you have.

You can have anything you want, as long as you’re willing to pay full price.

The title is a motivational quote that I discovered recently. A similar quote I’ve been using for a long time is; ‘you can have anything you want, but not everything you want’.

What does is mean to have ‘anything you want’ and what does it mean to ‘pay full price’? Two good questions.

Helping my clients understand what they really want is ongoing. One of the earliest revelations of my coaching practice is that it takes time to figure out exactly what one’s goals are. One good way is to think about both ‘outcome goals’ and ‘process goals’. Outcome goals tend to be relatively static. People are generally committed about their outcomes three years out. It they want double their income today, they’ll want double their income two years from now. On the other hand how they get there, their process, tends to be a moving target.

Process goals are what people want to accomplish day to day along the way to their desired outcomes. These daily goals are measured repeatedly. They can be adjusted from day to day. More hours can be invested. Experiments can be tried. Accommodations can be made. Sacrifices will be suffered. And for people who don’t get exactly what they want the reverse is true. Measuring can be ignored; hours cut, adjustments avoided, experiments left untried, needed accommodations not made and sacrifices not suffered.

So to determine the full price you need to know all the process goals that you must achieve. And you have to be prepared to modify the list as times goes by. So the full price includes time on task, adjustments, experiments, accommodations, sacrifices and much more. The next time you meet someone who is really successful try to get to know the full price they paid for their success.

You may have a role model you want to emulate. It would be good to get to know the full price they paid to become your role model. Often reading biography helps here.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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14 November 2014 ~ Comment

Your Two Inboxes

Working with a client the other day I came upon a novel solution to his time management problem. My client is a busy junior lawyer in a mid-sized firm. He reports to a number of partners who delegate work to him and as well he services a number of the firm’s clients independently.

His problem is how and when to focus on his own priorities when he has so much responsibility to others. It’s very motivating to have another person organizing your workload and urging you to get their work done first. We all want to satisfy our clients and bosses. But how are we to be motivated to tackle our own priorities. In this case marketing himself to get his own long term clientele, not to mention issues of work life balance.

I suggested he initiate a two inbox system and have a policy as to when each took priority. The simple way of looking at this is that his lunch hour has become his marketing time. He’ll keep a separate to do list [an ersatz inbox] to keep him planned and organized. We even changed the time of our marketing coach sessions to make them a lunch time activity.

As a junior he won’t be able to focus on his marketing inbox everyday that he wants to. Emergencies and important distractions will arise. The key to success will be to focus on those days when nothing interrupts. Those dedicated time on task hours will pay handsome rewards.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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27 October 2014 ~ Comment

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