Why executive coaching can add to your organisation’s bottom line

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

Your staff are the most important resource for achieving your strategic directions and delivering results. Successful organisations have motivated, engaged and high performing staff and low staff turnover.

At the same time, employee related costs are one of the highest line items in the budget – if not the highest. That’s why it’s in your organisation’s interests to invest in strategies that grow staff capability and enhance staff engagement and retention.

While some managers may argue that coaching is an expensive strategy, the contrary is true. Because it is focussed on the coachee’s needs, and can quickly and flexibly assist them to discover how to address those needs, there is no “down time” in coaching sessions. Instead, the coachee can return to the workplace to implement the solutions they have developed. It is therefore a very cost-effective development strategy for the individual, and provides significant benefits to the organisation.

Coaching, when done well, is a powerful strategy which provides a safe and conducive space for personal reflection, growth and development. It engages the coachee in identifying the specific goals and issues they want to address. It empowers the coachee to take responsibility for their development and

  • assists them to identify and reflect on their goals,
  • allows them to identify their own learning needs and
  • builds their personal awareness of how they are perceived by others.

Coaching is also a highly effective professional development strategy because it is client-centric. The coachee works with the coach to discover and develop ideas and solutions to achieve their personal goals and address their personal issues. This encourages innovation: rather than a “text book” response to an issue, the coachee works with the coach to develop an individual intervention that is going to work for them in their particular context. This creates a sense of ownership, confidence and buy in from the coachee. They are therefore more likely to follow through on implementing their ideas and solutions.

Benefits to the broader organisation from coaching include:

  • improved relationships
  • fewer grievances
  • improved team work and productivity
  • improved quality of work and
  • improved staff engagement, job satisfaction and staff retention.

Many capability development strategies can assist with the identification of goals and how to make progress towards achieving them. The power of coaching is that it helps the coachee to become more personally aware of their possible blind spots, particularly those relating to their behaviour in the workplace and the impact this has on others. Their growing self-awareness frequently leads to the coachee having a “light globe” moment and identifying ways to make a fundamental shift in their approach to their work and the way they relate to others.

So in determining the best way to use the organisation’s capability development budget, executive coaching is definitely a cost-effective and results-driven strategy to include in the mix.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

We’re on holidays

Executive Coach Exchange beachThis year we’ve seen some great discussions about the importance of time off. From this terrific response to a request for mental health leave to this examination of how constant availability damages productivity it’s been great to see focus on this issue.

And for those of us who like data, here is a data-driven case for annual leave.

With this in mind, we’ll be back in touch in February.

Running an engaging meeting

Last week we looked at how to set up a successful meeting.  This week, we look at running an engaging meeting that will support your overall goals.

  1. Own your meeting

You’ve called people together. It’s your responsibility to make the meeting successful. If you have added items to the agenda, take ownership of these and get them through. If you have prepared well, these items should be the most straightforward of the day.

2. Bring a minute-taker

You can’t chair a meeting effectively and take the minutes yourself. Bring a minute-taker and empower them to check they have recorded the decisions correctly before you move on to the next agenda item. In this way, you can create an accurate record of your meeting that everyone has agreed as the meeting progresses. This includes assigning tasks and timeframes to the right people during the meeting.

3. Reward the punctual

Always start the meeting on time. Begin by welcoming everyone and ensuring everyone knows everyone else in the room. The next step is to acknowledge traditional Owners of Country, and then step through the agenda.

Go through the minutes of the previous meeting and check the group agrees they are an accurate record. Once the minutes are agreed, check the progress of every action.

4. Other business

Everyone hates it when, just as a meeting is drawing to a close, someone starts adding extra items to the agenda. Call for ‘other business’ at the beginning of the meeting. Decide if any of these can be considered under items which are already on the agenda. Add any essential items to the end of the agenda – but list the rest for the next meeting. ‘Other business’ should only be for urgent items which have emerged since the papers were sent out. Don’t let people use them to raise personal preoccupations that are best dealt with in another forum.

Executive Coach Exchange meetings hans pixabay
“At today’s meeting, I’ll be reading the slides word for word.”

5. Pay attention

Watch people’s body-language. Notice:

  • who makes eye contact, with whom and when
  • who are the allies and who are the antagonists – is this stable or does it depend on the matter being discussed
  • who looks uncomfortable and why

If it’s a long meeting, when people get restless call a break. Make it long enough for people to check their devices and have a chat. A lot of goodwill can be gained in a meeting break.

Paying attention is your most important role as chair.

6. Set the tone

Set the tone yourself. If you are checking emails and not paying attention, you are sending a strong message that you don’t think your own meeting is important. Be involved in every item and take an active part in the discussion.

7. Give everyone a say

The purpose of a meeting is to allow discussion and information exchange. If only one person is talking, that message can usually be better conveyed in writing.

Some people can talk under wet cement. Others will wait to be invited and yet may have the most important things to say. Make sure everyone’s opinion is heard and taken on board. While it’s essential you steer the meeting, you don’t need to speak all the time to do this.

8. Push for an agreed decision

You have got the decision-makers at your meeting. While discussion is important, decisions also need to be made now. Push through to a consensus and ensure the decisions are recorded.

9. Thank people

Acknowledge the time and effort of the people who came to your meeting and thank your staff publicly for running it well.

10. Act on the actions

It’s essential to get the minutes out as soon as possible after the meeting, while the decisions are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Although the minutes will still be in draft, if they were agreed during the meeting, there should be few changes so people with actions can get them done.

11. Evaluate

After the meeting, consider thoughtfully and thoroughly what went well and what didn’t. Evaluate your own performance and decide if your meeting was worthwhile. Get feedback from trusted people. Plan for continuous improvement in your meetings.

Finally, if you decide the meetings are a waste of everyone’s time, and nothing can save them, cancel them and find another way to get views heard and decisions made.

Next week we’ll look in more depth at dealing with difficult people in your meeting, an important topic in its own right.

Oh no – not another meeting!

We’ve all found ourselves in this situation – dreading the boredom of another pointless meeting. Yet, when it’s our turn, we still call people together. If meetings are such a waste of time, why do we keep having them?

And how can you make meetings work for you, now you are the chair?

This is the first post in a series of our top tips for giving your meeting the best chance of success.

Good preparation ensures the best outcomes.

  1. Set a tight agenda

Make sure to set a tight agenda that only contains issues that need to be discussed when the group gets together. This means your items should be important to the organisation, strategic and controversial. They should be items where different views need to be heard.

Executive Coach Exchange meetings bored pixabay pixel-mixer
Oh no. Not another meeting.

Don’t make the meeting longer than it needs to be. Administrivia is a waste of everyone’s time – deal with it another way.

  1. Involve key stakeholders in setting the agenda

Call for agenda items from the group well in advance. If papers are required, ensure the group gets enough time to read and consider them before the meeting. Including items from other people gives them ownership in the meeting’s success. However, you also need to understand why these items have been added so you are not caught out by a hidden agenda.

Go through the minutes of the previous meeting, check the progress of action items and ensure as many tasks as possible have been completed.

Make sure attendees are aware whether the meeting, or individual items, are confidential, before the meeting begins. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for confidentiality acknowledgements for highly sensitive material.

  1. Get the decision-makers in the room

Meetings are about decisions, so you need to get the decision-makers at your meeting. The more important the decision, the more important it is to get the people with the authority to make decisions to attend. Consider what people expect to gain from coming to your meeting.

  1. Dealing with substitutes

If people want to send a substitute, make it clear that decisions will be made and their substitute will be part of those decisions. If people are constantly sending substitutes, they are telling you that your meeting is not important. Ask yourself whether they need to be part of the group at all and, if they are needed, ask them why they are not attending.

  1. Schedule the meetings well in advance and set the mode

To make sure people can attend, fix the dates and venues of your meetings at the beginning of the year and don’t move them. Decide whether people can attend virtually to reduce travel time. If a meeting must be face-to-face for people travelling long distances, make sure the content is worth their while. You can waste a lot of relationship capital by insisting on personal attendance for meetings with routine content.

  1. Set the meeting up properly

Delegate the set up to someone you trust. Make sure the meeting room is properly set-up before the meeting starts. Provide food and drink if the meeting is to go for more than 2 hours or if people have travelled a long way to get there. Without a practical set up, you risk losing engagement.

  1. Controversial items

Talk to people before the meeting as items and papers are being developed and take their concerns on board. Enlist allies to speak in support of your items. Know what objectors will say before they speak. Anticipate questions and address these in your papers. Make sure you know what members will say and, if applicable, how they will vote, before the meeting starts.

Next week – running your meeting.

Multi-tasking and busyness – just how efficient are you really?

Two opposing ideas are dominating the discourse about work and, indeed, about life too. The first applauds multi-tasking and admires people who seem able to do many things at once. The second tells people to live in the present. As Maya Angelou says, “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”

Executive Coach Exchange multitasking catherine burrows
“I did things I did not understand for reasons I could not begin to explain just to be in motion, to be trying to do something …” – Dorothy Allison, Trash: Stories. Photo: Catherine Burrows

We read sensible, helpful articles which give people strategies to manage their emails efficiently, including by only looking at them a few times a day, and promoting the idea of not starting your day with emails but by “eating the frog” of your most difficult and important task.

Then we hear about people whose managers require them to respond to their emails instantly, and be logged onto instant messaging, at all hours. How can a person manage this without multitasking? And what is the cost?

Lisa Quast cites research which found only two per cent of the population are exceptional multi-taskers.

The implication of this, of course, is that the rest of us – 98% –  are not good multitaskers. This won’t surprise anyone who has sat behind someone texting at a green traffic light. In fact, David Strayer’s research showed, “Outside the lab…the multitasking deficit held steady. When Strayer and his colleagues observed fifty-six thousand drivers approaching an intersection, they found that those on their cell phones were more than twice as likely to fail to heed the stop signs,” as Maria Konnikova reports.

What about in the workplace? It turns out that multi-tasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

David Sbarra has described how he trained himself to be less busy. He realised he had become “…a robot, programmed to obliterate my to-do list…” “addicted to busyness”. He decided that “To get more out of life — more meaning, more joie de vivre — I needed to start doing less and to become more conscious about my choices.”

His strategies were amazingly simple. He started by being outside and walking more. Next, he tried valuing idleness, left Facebook and got “serious about laughing more”. Finally, he focused on the value of friendships. While it’s a work in progress, he says the result is, “I am feeling better than I have in a long time — more deliberate in the choices I make, more connected to the people around me, and more energized for the demands of the day. The surprising irony here, for me at least, is that by doing less, I am getting way more out life.”

Working with an executive coach can help you to overcome mindless multitasking. A coach can help you identify those tasks you are doing from a sense of busyness rather than necessity. A coach can help you build strategies to focus on what’s important. Finally, if you need to have a difficult conversation with your manager about improving your productivity by not answering every email as soon as it is sent, an executive coach can help with this too.