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5 Double-Edged Sword Philosophies that Lead to Destructive Company Culture

By Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano-edged sword philosophies

Most of us spend the majority of our time at the office or actively working inside or as part of a human work system.  Whether we are conscious to it or not, the corporate culture of an organization can make or break how we feel about the organization and our place in it.

While most awake and aware leaders say they want a constructive corporate culture, many are uncertain of what it really takes to shape it. Consequently, these executives and managers unintentionally lead their people toward the fatal, destructive side of the culture coin. They do this by buying into five double-edged sword philosophies: Winning above all else, commanding and controlling, opposing others, pursuing perfection, and keeping the peace. These philosophies will undermine your mission to craft a constructive corporate culture.

1. Winning Above All Else

Winning is an incredibly powerful motivator. The desire to win can move mountains and bring in profits, however, when the need to win overwrites better judgement, fragments and erodes core values, runs over people, and leads people to the brink of exhaustion, it must be called out and new behaviors that promote and inspire must be integrated into the culture.  In pursuit of results above all else can cost of relationships, health and wellness, trust, quality and safety.

Inside competitive work cultures, members are often expected to operate in a “win-lose” framework, outperform peers, and work against (rather than with) their coworkers. What begins with a healthy race often devolves into unproductive dog-eat-dog internal workplace behavior.

The corporate culture of an organization can make or break how we feel about the organization and our place in it. Click To Tweet

A once healthy desire to “beat the competition” gone unchecked, very often, creates opportunities for unproductive behavior and perpetuating neural pathways and automatic ways of thinking and being that result in an organization eating itself alive. These shows up on the floor by people arguing for win/lose scenarios, in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions and resources. A focal shift from we to me, where silo’ and personalized thinking prevail.

Even though the intentions of leaders who want to “win” is most often well-meaning, a workplace culture that values winning above all else can be fertile ground for destructive behavior and employment brand erosion.

2. Commanding and Controlling

In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team are expected to take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors. Historically, this has been the ‘right’ way to lead and for many decades it actually worked. This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who admire and enjoy this model atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures where this type of behavior is rewarded, the powerful take over and the powerless surrender.

When leaders and team members are expected and even encouraged to power up over others, people in the organization often view themselves as pawns in the micromanagement chess game, or simply as cogs in the organizational profit wheel. They lose motivation and initiative and give less of their discretionary time to make the organization better. Commanding and controlling is a vicious cycle, and the only way out is to call it out, and inspire a new way to lead and a new way to follow.

3. Opposing Others

In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over years. But what often got us here will not get us there; and opposition is one of those elements of culture, much like winning at all costs, that turns the organization against itself. In work cultures where members are expected to be critical, oppose ideas of others, and make ‘safe’ decisions, people drop into fear, and suppress their ideas and creativity. Opposition shows up in communication such as, “Yes, but,” “We already tried that and it failed,” “I have been here for years and I know it won’t work,” and “No, because.” While everyone ought to be singing from the same overall hymnal and work together in tolerance and engagement, members of this type of organization spend far too much time navigating personalities and conflict, than collaborating, innovating and solving problems.

4. Pursuing Perfection

In other cases, there are leaders’ of quality-driven organizations who pride themselves with a commitment to excellence. While that intention may have been initially pure and congruent with the leader’s values, all too often the unconscious underlying behavior that is fostered with this value is perfection. In a culture of perfection, people do not take risks, they do not try new things, and they almost certainly do not put themselves or their reputation on the line to color outside the lines.

Leaders of many modern organizations often stake their reputations on delivering excellence or superior service. There are not many CEOs, who would stand behind sending out sloppy work, or delivering code to customers littered with errors; but there is a subtle difference between standing for quality and being in pursuit of perfection.

Perfection, by nature of its definition, leaves very little room for risk taking and creativity in your organization. When curiosity is stifled and looking good is the primary focus, mistakes are hidden, learning is mitigated, and growth is constrained. In an environment where perfection is celebrated and rewarded, conventionality emerges as a safe bet for staying out of the boss’ cross hairs. In a work place that prioritizes perfectionism, members are expected to conform follow the rules and make a good impression, and the byproduct of making a good impression and following the rules is that creativity and risk-taking are thwarted and innovation becomes impossible. Resistance to change becomes a blocker to progress and complacency sets in. While certain roles demand perfection or someone could die, perfection as a culture, limits and constrains what is possible for the organization and the people in it.

5. Keeping the Peace and Getting Along

Everyone who is anyone in business understands the need to cooperate with others in the workplace and the need for teamwork and collaboration. However, creating a work culture where everyone has to be liked and everyone has to get along with little to no emphasis on performance or results; most often leads to over-the-top consensus building, perceived favoritism, a loss of focus and ambition, inconsistent accountability and a very destructive fear of conflict.

In a work culture where needing approval is a core component of how the organization works, team members are expected to agree with, gain the approval of and be liked by others. In a work place such as this, disagreements are frowned upon and people are encouraged to go along with the crowd—even when the crowd is prepared to drive off a cliff. When team members fear conflict, even constructive conflict, they are incapable of engaging in debates or openly voicing opinions. The team avoids conflicts; which involve speaking up against bad decisions thus leading to inferior organizational results.

It‘s imperative to understand that “keeping the peace” workplace cultures can be an insidious thief of organizational and talent optimization.  Keeping the peace has the potential have rob the organization and its people experiencing the highest levels of role fulfillment and role satisfaction. When people and the human system they operate in does not actively engage in productive ways of being including; constructive conflict, speaking their truth, giving new ideas, and sharing insights of what is not working; they can never really get to real engagement in the workplace.

The five double-edged sword philosophies can sweep the rug out from under your company’s overall mission and set you drastically off track. Shaping constructive culture is about intentionally causing the kind of corporate culture that exemplifies your brand promise. This takes a solid and palatable intention for that culture as a holistic human system, a system of people operating as a living and agile organism. Intentional culture is all about monitoring what you are creating and making necessary shifts along the way to ensure you are accomplishing what you set out to by creating the intentional culture in the first place. 

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know

By Kate Zabriskie

Kate Zabriskie-One-on-One Meetings

There are only two of us in my department. Why should I bother with a formal meeting? We sit right across from each other.

I tried meeting individually with my direct reports, but they had nothing to talk about. Besides, we’re all adults. We know what we’re supposed to be doing at work.

I work in a matrix environment. I see my direct report about once a month, and that’s usually at a larger meeting or when we’re passing each other in the hallway. I have no idea what he does. At review time, I rely on other people to tell me.

Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a long list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. 

And guess what? The volume of reasons does not outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled tête-à-tête with a direct report.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look Click To Tweet

Benefits of Regular One-on-One Meetings

If used correctly, over time managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one.

  • Visible appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports.
  • Better thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals, and development opportunities.
  • Stronger results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress.

The Perfect One-on-One

Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, there are a few guidelines that can make a one-on-one meeting successful.

  1. Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t regularly disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up.
  2. Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside of the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Meeting frequency should be looked at from time to time. If the rate of meetings is correct, managers and employees should not routinely find themselves with no reason to meet.
  3. Follow a written agenda. Well-run one-on-one meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, current challenges, and so forth.
  4. Put employees in the driver’s seat by having them manage and document the agenda. As a manager, you may create the initial agenda format. But once you do, your employees should take ownership of the documents associated with their one-on-one meetings.

Troubleshooting

One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Obstacle 1: Employees question the new meeting.

Solution: Reduce the surprise factor. If a manager has never held one-on-one meetings, they might come as a surprise to employees. To avoid feelings of uncertainty, confusion, or worse, socialize the idea before loading the calendar with unexpected surprises. “This year, I would like to focus more on individual development. Within the next week or two, please expect to see a meeting request from me on your calendar. I believe we will all benefit if I spend time with each of you individually at regularly scheduled intervals. How often we will meet will depend on each of your needs and what we decide together.”

Obstacle 2: An employee doesn’t take charge of the meeting.

Solution: Show them how. A good agenda can go a long way toward making the conversation flow. Although employees should have ultimate responsibility for keeping the agenda, this may take time. In the beginning, managers may have to model what they want to see. “For our first few meetings, I’ll prepare the agenda. Once we’ve found our groove, my plan is to turn it over to you to own. This means you’ll add to it between meetings and bring a copy for you and me when we meet.”

Obstacle 3: An employee gives short or general answers to questions.

Solution: Get specific. The more focused a manager’s questions are, the better the conversation tends to be. For example, instead of asking “what are you working on,” a manager might say, “tell me about the project that is going best right now and why that is.”

Obstacle 4: An employee seems unresponsive.

Solution: Leverage silence. When managers don’t get immediate feedback, they sometimes mistake silence for non-responsiveness. It’s important for managers to remember they already know the questions. The employee is hearing them for the first time and may need some time to digest and think about what’s being asked. Instead of rephrasing questions that don’t produce an immediate answer, managers need to get comfortable with letting silence sit in the room.  

Reevaluate From Time-to-Time

Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look. After all, can you really afford not to?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

7 Habits to Take Your Workplace Culture to New HEIGHTS

By Elizabeth McCormick

Elizabeth McCormick“Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”—Vince Lombardi

Your beliefs dictate your behavior and your behaviors create habits that determine your destination. You’re either going towards greatness or obscurity; there is no neutrality to your momentum. So, where are your habits taking you?

Leading your organization towards a specific destination or goal is like being a pilot of a passenger airplane—wherever you go, your company goes. There isn’t an auto-pilot setting for you if you expect to take your team to greater heights.

If you find yourself and your organization stuck, or you’re ready to rev up your engine to soar higher, it may be time to engage your discipline and do the difficult things that other leaders may not do.Encourage a company culture where employees at all levels have the chance to share their ideas, talk about what they do, and possibly mentor new up-and-comers in your organization. Click To Tweet

Here are 7 habits that can help you take your organizational culture to new HEIGHTS:

1. Hopeful Expectations: Whatever you look for is exactly what you will find. If you expect to find problems, you will. If you expect your team to discover creative solutions, exceed their potential, come together as a team and support you, your vision, and your company goals—they will. A positive mindset is the first habit you need to cultivate and grow a winning mindset. Without it, you will fail to see what’s possible.

ACTION PLAN:  When faced with a new idea, prospect, or proposal (especially in a meeting with your team), always communicate the positives first. Encourage and engage your team members to participate in developing new ideas. Cultivate innovation by asking them to spell out the pros and cons of their ideas. Then, when they’re ready, empower them to run with it.

2. Eliminate Multitasking: Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean you are productive. When too much emphasis is put on multitasking, it could lead to miscommunication, mistakes, frustration, and unmet goals. It’s not about how much you can multitask, it’s about knowing which task can multiply your results.

ACTION PLAN:  Remove all distractions and then decide which task needs your attention and work on it until it’s done. This works for meetings too. Put your devices away and give your full attention to your team. Before you know it, they will follow your lead.

3. Intentional Kindness: Many people have experienced random acts of kindness, but it’s time to be more intentional in showing kindness to yourself and your team members. Become more aware of how you can encourage others, add value, meet the needs you see, and extend grace whenever needed. As you do, you’ll begin to see that spread throughout your organization and beyond.

ACTION PLAN:  Set up a charity of the month. Assign a twelve-person committee with each member taking ownership of one month. Some ideas include collecting Winter Coats and canned food, walking as a team in a fun run or 5K fundraiser, hosting a blood drive, adopting a highway, or spending a day with Habitat for Humanity. Encourage involvement by participating full out.

4. Gear Down: In today’s world, it’s tough to find time to think, yet that’s one of the more critical elements of success. Studies show that intentional down-time improves productivity, energy, and results. Don’t fall for that top-speed mentality or you’ll eventually run out of fuel. Schedule some time to gear down.

ACTION PLAN:  Prioritize some non-negotiable time on your calendar just for you. Create a distraction-free space where you can clear your mind and unplug from everything. Start with just 10 minutes if that’s all you have, but just start. You’ll be amazed at the clarity and productivity you’ll experience as a result.

5. Hidden Opportunities: Being proactive is one of the hidden opportunities that leaders often miss. Instead of waiting to see what the day holds and reacting to that email, phone call or situation, a more strategic approach is to determine responses before calamity strikes.

ACTION PLAN: Along with your yearly planning meetings to finetune the company’s vision and goals, be strategic about anticipating potential problems.  Have an “Anticipation Meeting” with the goal of creating contingency plans and ask each department to develop a “what if” list, along with solutions. This type of strategy allows you and your team to be more creative in your problem-solving abilities while in a calmer state than an emergency allows.

6. Talk It Out: Make it a habit to communicate openly with your team and allow them the opportunity to take part in the conversation. When communication is lost, your teamwork and productivity will suffer right along with your company’s goals.

ACTION PLAN: No one likes to be kept in the dark. Be clear in meetings about expectations, goals, and their command structure. You can also set a time where everyone knows your door is open to talk for topics that need to be dealt with one-on-one.

7. Share the Load: Establish a habit of sharing the load. Delegating important tasks is another way you can honor and empower your team to take on new responsibilities that help to sharpen and show off their strengths.

ACTION PLAN: Encourage a company culture where employees at all levels have the chance to share their ideas, talk about what they do, and possibly mentor new up-and-comers in your organization. When leaders at all levels take ownership of the company vision and goals, there’s no limit to what you and your organization can do.

When you choose winning habits by believing in the potential of your team, looking for the best in others, extending kindness, and creating space for them to give back, share ideas, and lead, you provide the jet fuel to ignite their creativity as you empower them to discover new levels of success. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo—make winning a habit so you and your team can soar to new heights.

Elizabeth McCormick is a Keynote Speaker specializing in Leadership, Sales and Safety presentations. She was recently named #4 on the list of Leadership Experts to Follow Online.  A former US Army Black Hawk Pilot, and author of “The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life;” Elizabeth teaches instantly applicable strategies to boost your employees’ confidence in their own leadership abilities. For more information, please visit: www.YourInspirationalSpeaker.com.

“Disciplining” Adults is Just Wrong

By Sue Bingham

Sue BinghamIt’s a great irony that the discipline policy preferred by most companies is called “progressive”. Since the word progressive means “making favorable progress or change” nothing could be further from the truth.

The progressive discipline policy is about punishment not improvement.Punishment expects employee performance to improve by treating the employee progressively worse. Click To Tweet

This senseless and de-humanizing process was created to protect companies from adverse legal rulings, and mostly at the advice of legal counsel. The irony is that a claim or charge can be adjudicated in favor of the employee—not because of what the terminated employee has or hasn’t done— but because the company failed to follow the myriad details outlined in its own policies.

Most managers denounce their company’s progressive discipline policy as lengthy, over-engineered and ineffective. For the bad apple who shouldn’t have been hired in the first place, this process takes far too long. And the small minority of abusers use the policy like a playbook, and keep ahead of the game by changing the performance issue that is violated. They also know the time required for the last warning to be removed— so they can do it again. Here’s how it works…

Progressive Discipline Policies

Typically, progressive discipline policies are comprised of steps, with each step involving an employee and his/her manager and eventually witnesses. In each step, the communication is routinely one-way and parent-child, ending with the threat: “Failure to improve will result in further disciplinary action up to and including termination”.

  • Step One is a verbal warning. That’s an interesting term—verbal warning—because it’s often documented. And the word “warning” is correct because the discussion ends with a threat. The angry employee then leaves (often after being asked to sign the written verbal warning).
  • Step Two is just like step one but is now called a written warning. Again it ends with a threat (in a more serious tone) and the angry, dispirited or apathetic employee again leaves after being asked to sign the warning.
  • Step Three varies among companies. It may be a second written warning or an unpaid suspension from work. The employee is sent home (which seems much like sending a child to his room), and the employee and his family are being punished because the company is withholding pay.
  • Some companies even have a Step Four—a third and FINAL written warning. This is usually a tense and negative interaction between the manager and employee. It exists to create a paper trail that will hold up in an unemployment claim or court of law once the employee is terminated (at this stage the decision has already been made to fire the employee).

Punishment is not instructive. It cannot teach a new behavior or solve a problem. The improvement or desired behavior will never be permanently learned unless an employee and his supervisor work together to solve the problem.

In most traditional companies, equipment is treated better than employees. Using a progressive disciplinary approach is like banging on a machine to make it run better.

A Better Way

Assume that the vast majority of employees are good people who want the company to succeed. They are adults who own homes, raise children and serve in their communities. If a problem develops and is brought to their attention, their desire is to solve it.

A performance coaching approach is based on this assumption. If a problem arises, those involved will want to solve it. This coaching meeting has an agenda the manager partially prepares in advance to be clear and concise about the problem. When prepared, the manager can state the issue, usually in under fifteen seconds, and then ask, “What’s going on?” This turns the problem-solving conversation immediately over to the employee to discover the cause of the performance issue.

This is not a “step” process. This is an adult conversation that ends depending on how the employee responds.

  • Cooperative: If the employee is cooperative (most are), he accepts responsibility and offers an action or commitment to address the cause—problem solved! The action or solution is not provided by the manager. The manager facilitates the employee’s plan.
  • Uncooperative: The employee may be uncooperative, meaning he isn’t forthcoming regarding the cause, blames others or simply avoids responding as an adult to the manager’s questions. When this happens, the manager reflects what she’s seeing and hearing. Most people become cooperative at this point. If not, the manager will ask the employee to go home for the rest of the day. Unlike a suspension, this time off is paid because the employee’s job that day is to decide about his employment. Is this a job he wants? Can he meet expectations? If so, he is expected to return with a sincere commitment statement or plan of action. If the employee determines the job is not for him, the company processes his resignation. (A surprising number of people make the decision to change).
  • Disrespectful: Occasionally an employee can go beyond uncooperative and become downright disrespectful. There is no room for disrespectful behavior in this process. The manager reflects what she’s seeing or hearing, and if the employee continues to be disrespectful, the manager ends the meeting. The employee is sent home and informed that the manager will call him in the morning to let him know if he still has a job.

In all three instances, the problem is solved—usually with less than two conversations.

This process does have documentation. When a manager lacks confidence that the improvement will be made, a letter is sent to the employee that documents both sides of the conversation including the employee’s plan of action . It is kept in a company file. When the employee’s response results in resignation or termination, a report detailing the conversation(s) is submitted.

With this approach, the legal process is now focused on the employee’s response and subsequent actions versus whether the detailed progressive discipline steps were followed by the company.

As competition for good people becomes more intense, companies that treat their employees with respect, and as adults, gain the advantage. Managers are then free to use the leadership, judgment and communication skills for which they’re paid.

Sue Bingham is the founder of the HPWP Group, a master coach, speaker, and author of the book, Creating The High Performance Work Place: It’s Not Complicated to Develop a Culture of Commitment. At the forefront of the positive business movement, Sue supports leaders as they achieve their vision of success, and designs common-sense systems that make people and organizations more effective. For more information about Sue Bingham, please visit: www.HPWPGroup.com.

One-on-One Coaching: The Most Effective Way to Develop Your People

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey Foley: one-on-one coachingEffective one-on-one coaching is one of the most important skills a great leader must possess. Effective coaching inspires in others an internal drive to act ethically, without direction, to achieve goals. Effective coaching drives performance, builds competence and confidence, and ultimately enhances relationships. The best coaches help people find ways to make things happen as opposed to creating excuses why they can’t.

Effective coaching also requires you to believe in yourself. You need to believe that you can have an impact in the workplace, and that you can inspire others to achieve their goals they might not otherwise achieve. The real question is not if you will make a difference, but what difference you will make.

Respectful, transparent, and regular face-to-face communication between leaders and their people breaks down barriers and builds trust. What you can see in a person’s eyes or other body language can be revealing. While technology can be effective at times, it will never replace human contact for discovery and inspiration.

The most impactful leaders are adept listeners, and don’t allow their egos to become roadblocks. When egos are alive and well, listening ceases, effective coaching environments disappear, and organizations suffer.

Here are three recommendations that can help you raise the bar on your ability to coach others.Effective one-on-one coaching is one of the most important skills a great leader must possess. Click To Tweet

1. Create a positive and open environment for communication

People listen to and follow leaders they trust. They engage in meaningful dialog with people they trust. They are not afraid to disagree with people they trust. Trust provides the foundation for a positive and open communication environment where connections between people can thrive.

When people connect, they learn about each other. They enable understanding of cultures, individual strengths and challenges. Knowing your people’s unique capabilities and desires helps focus on how to help them be successful.

Knowing your people also reduces the probability of promoting someone into a management position who does not want it or is not otherwise qualified. Not all physicians want to be managers. Not all sales people want to be sales managers. Not all technicians want to be a shop foreman. The costs can be exorbitant to an organization that wrongly promotes someone into a management position.

There are three questions that can help establish this open line of communication: What is on your mind? What can I do for you? What do you think? How am I making your life more difficult? When asked with the genuine interest, people respond with more honesty.

Meet with your people regularly helps break down barriers. Not just in your office, but on the manufacturing floor, outside the operating room, in the cafeteria, or the warehouse. Talk to folks outside the work area like the jogging track, grocery store or the kid’s soccer game. The informal sessions can be wonderful enablers of opening the line of communication.

2. Establish agreed upon goals and strategies to achieve

Most people want to know what success looks like. They want to be clear in their goals as an individual and, if appropriate, the leader of a team. Well-defined, measurable, relevant goals on paper help people gain clarity on success for them. Assigning responsibility with authority helps inspire an individual’s commitment to be successful.

Success also includes how to reach their goals. Strategies are developed and agreed upon by the manager and team member so that both understand each other’s roles. The probability of success increases dramatically when strategies and accountabilities are well defined.

3. Enforce accountability by assessing performance

There are many and significant consequences when people are not held accountable for achieving goals or otherwise performing to standard. Integrity disappears. Discipline erodes. Morale evaporates. Leaders are not taken seriously. Problem employees become a cancer in the organization. The best people leave. Results are not achieved.

Effective coaching demands assessment of performance. Without this assessment, no system of accountability will be achieved. If the senior leader does not hold his or her executive team accountable, subordinate leaders are likely to think “Why should I?”

Consistent, regularly scheduled coaching sessions with your people are the key to ensuring effective follow-up assessments to celebrate successes and identify areas to improve.

Summary

Coaching session agendas will vary based on a variety of conditions. A good place to start is outlined below.

First, review the individual goals and those of the organization. Ensure alignment of both to clarify where the individual is contributing to the mission of the organization.

Second, discuss what is going well. Where do both the coach and the individual agree on successes? Provide positive recognition for achievements where important.

Third, discuss the challenges or areas for improvement. Underwrite honest mistakes in the pursuit of excellence so people can learn. Determine how you as the manager can help. Gain a clear understanding of the shortfall in the individual’s ability and desire to achieve the goal and what resources or assistance the individual needs to be successful. When unsatisfactory performance occurs, managers must address it. Leaders who never take action to remove an underperformer are doing a great disservice to their institution. All too often, good people serving in leadership positions fear the task of confrontation. They hope, magically, that something will happen which will turn the underperformer around and all will be well in the end. Hope is not a strategy; the magic seldom happens. Your goal as a leader and coach is to inspire a willingness to succeed. When coaching, it is often easier to criticize and find fault. Think before you speak—find ways to praise.

Fourth, as the manager, seek suggestions for how you can be a more effective leader for them. This question can change the dynamic of the coaching session and can provide powerful feedback for the manager in his or her quest to be the best they can be. Doing so will enhance their trust in you and help build confidence in their own capabilities.

Remember, effective one-on-one coaching can be the catalyst for attracting and retaining the best people, and that will ultimately help your organization to unprecedented results.

 Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.