A coaching session is a hands-on work with you, owner and leader of a start-up or small businesses. I apply strong active listening with useful questions and appropriate data to help you find the best path through the maze of opportunities, risks, and the occasional disastrous bright idea. Then, I work with you to develop a concrete list of tasks that you must accomplish to push your business toward the goals.
Get the Right Things Done
Ongoing work focuses on getting the right things done and refocusing as the situation develops. A coaching session is a structured conversation about your business. Most start with issues or opportunities that are on your mind today. I ask lots of questions that lead you to explain what the opportunity is and how you think you will tackle it. It is amazing how often just explaining to someone outside of your business how you are thinking about a particular situation reveals weaknesses, or highlights strengths, in your thinking. Thinking out loud is frequently productive because you are forced to hear the ideas outside your head and, of course, I can hear them, too. Further questions probe for problems or missing elements in your plans or perhaps other opportunities that you have not recognized. I also bring my thirty years of business experience into the discussion through examples from my own work or from experiences with other clients.
An Eye on Long Term Goals
Because you and I have had discussions about where you want your company to be in two or three years, I can ask how this particular opportunity contributes to reaching those goals. This is one of my key values to you. I am not tied up in the fray of your day-to-day activities, so it is easier for me to remind you of the long view, the big picture.
Sometimes new approaches or skills will be required to capture the opportunity. Most of these can be learned in a just-in-time manner and learned more readily and thoroughly because you re applying them to an actual problem you need to solve. At times, I will point you towards resources for you to explore to build up your knowledge of management principles and practices.
Sometime during our conversation you or I will bring up the two or three specific tasks that you said you would work on to drive your business forward over the last week or so. We will review and critique what you did and either slap each other on the back (conceptually of course) for the successes or re-tool the approach for the less than optimal results. And before the close of our discussion you will tell me what you think are the upcoming two or three forward looking tasks for the upcoming week.
One of the neat things about all of this is that it takes place on the telephone or via Skype over the Web. If we need to review some plans or financial data, we can do that via the Web. You meet with me from wherever you need to be. It is easy to fit an hour into your schedule with no need for me to come to your office.
Where do the new approaches and skills come from? Are they just a laundry list of what I happen to know about? The short answer is no. Sometimes it appears that management is just a hodgepodge of practices and verbosity from academics and consultants. But, we really do know something about how high-perfromance organizations work. These principles and practices flow from high-performance management work of the last fifty years from around the world. These are embodied most boldly in the Toyota Production System (TPS – also know in the US as lean manufacturing or lean enterprise), Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria, ISO9000-2008, and EFQM.
What About Results?
Is Business Coaching for Me?
“I have not had a coach since high school. I am not sure I need a touchy-feely experience to make me feel better about myself. Isn’t this going to cost a lot of money?”
Tell Me More about Management Principles and Practices
You can learn more about what these are and where they come from here.