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

Separate Passengers Without Delay

Leaders too often let people problems fester. David Ogilvy, who I worked for, phrased the solution as; ‘separate passengers without delay’. I read Stalin’s version of this statement recently; ‘when there is a person there is a problem, when there is no person there is no problem’.

So what’s the prescription to avoid people problems. Here are some ideas.

1] Be more diligent in the recruiting/interviewing process. When I worked at Ogilvy and Mather candidates would often have endless interviews with a wide variety of people looking for problems. I recall being the 11th person to interview a man for an entry level position. He rose to become a very senior executive in the agency.

2] Develop instincts for what you are ‘not’ looking for. Using exit discussions about people who leave under unsatisfactory circumstances catalog the ‘must, want and avoid’ characteristics to succeed in your organization.

3] Give yourself an out. Agree on a probationary period with your new hires.

4] Test people you interview on their core values. Everyone can express excellent core values but these can be subjective puffery. Test them to tell you examples of their core values in action. Look for good stories of character and competence.

5] Use a trusted recruiter when possible. Many head hunters are not good enough to be good recruiters, good consultants and good friends. But some are. Find one for yourself.


Posted by Jerome Shore

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15 October 2015 ~ Comment

Coaching, Mentoring, Training

I was coaching a client today about an upcoming job interview. There was a need to discuss answers to the question “How do you lead?”

One part of the answer had to do with a leader helping people grow in the job. I suggested three strategies.

Coaching is polishing skills someone already has. So, for example, my client had interview skills when we first met. Some of my coaching has been to polish those skills by giving her ideas about things she could do better in interviews and tips for putting ideas into practice.

Mentoring is about being an evolutionary elder. When you’ve been in some sort of organization for a long time you’ve evolved and learned about its communication patterns [thinkĀ  ‘snakes and ladders’ ]. That gives you the perspective to mentor others on how they can operate in the organization.

Training is about filling an empty vessel. When someone has zero ‘know how’ about a certain topic as you move them from zero to some knowledge about the topic [action, tactic, skill] you’re training them.

A good metaphor for how all this works in sequence is how we grow our children. At first, when the kids are younger, there’s a great deal of training going on to get the child started. Then as the child learns some aspect of the skills, but not sophistication, coaching can polish those skills. And lastly when they’re older and they have plenty of skills to do almost everything mentoring comes when you can use your evolutionary elder experience to direct them to the right way.



Posted by Jerome Shore

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18 September 2015 ~ Comment

Survive Your Beliefs. Thrive

I’ve been reading Faithless by Tony Philpott. It’s about his journey from believer to atheist. He has a nice passage about how hard it was for him to evolve because belief in God was so ingrained growing up Catholic in Dublin. There was just no room for another view to gain traction in his environment. All media and every person around him supported and promoted the belief in God.

This article in a similar way shows how necessary it is to overcome low expectations. Where the author grew up, the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester, England, low expectations dominated. She writes that there’s lots of need in modern society to fight back against beliefs that get in the way of achievement.

I’ve also been impressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, and Dr. Ben Carson, two black Americans who survived a start in poverty to reach the pinnacle of their professions. More evidence it can be done.

In my coaching work I often reference that after Roger Bannister finally broke the 4 minute mile barrier many others followed suit within a short time. Once the fact that it could be done took hold the new belief stimulated many others.

What connects the people above is that they’ve achieved heady goals while overcoming beliefs that hold most people back. Beliefs that were their own and others’.

That formula I use with my coaching clients. What goals do you have? What beliefs, yours and others’, are in your way? How can you overcome those beliefs? You can use the formula for yourself. Interestingly, developing goals is quite often the stumbling block.

Important, Urgent and Expensive

I’ve written about Steven Covey’s Activity Matrix several times: It is valuable to discern and focus on Quadrant 2, Important but not Urgent, while too much time in Quadrant 3, Urgent but not Important and Quadrant 1, Important and Urgent will keep you from investing completely in your future.

The other day a client pointed out a nice addition to the idea. She used the phrase Important, Urgent and Expensive. The meaning was that if you don’t spend time in Quadrant 2 [planning, relationship building, preparation, values clarification etc.] you’ll end up having to handle more in Quadrant 1 and it will be expensive. A simple example is your health. If you don’t take care of your health regularly as an Important but Not Urgent activity eventually fixing yourself will continue to be Important but also Urgent and, if you leave it too long, Expensive.

Think of all the times a lack of Important Planning resulted in future needs that were Important, Urgent and more Expensive than they had to be.

Straight and Narrow

It’s a biblical admonition. Essentially find the small gate and the narrow path that leads to what you want.

That seems like something we can use in many aspects of our lives. Don’t need to be religious. Just thoughtful.

I often say to my clients “let’s find out how to do more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff”. So in coaching it’s a two part program. First, strategy; what’s the right stuff? Secondly, discipline; just do the right stuff.

Often it’s harder to avoid what’s wrong than it is to focus on what’s right. In marketing, for example, it seems people love the notion of trying a new unproven scheme rather than renewing focus on what’s been determined to be right.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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20 June 2015 ~ Comment

Executive Function in Time Management

I recently spoke to a client about Executive Function for individual performance. There is an increasing need for executive function because of all the distractions people now face at work via social media and email. Executive function can be described as the controlling and initiating ways we set the stage to do our work.

One way I work with clients around executive function is the day part school schedule. First period is getting your assistant, if you have one, focused for the day. Second period is focus on personal work alone. Third period is lunch reserved for relationship building. Fourth period is clearing accumulated emails and vmails. Fifth period is focusing your assistant for the afternoon. Sixth period is working with others in meetings [e.g. delegating, checking in, organizing]. Obviously this won’t work everyday but if it is done on days when it is possible it is great.

Checklists, calendars, milestone check-ins and preset routines are aspects of executive function that could be used in delegation.

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.

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