Why Limited Feedback Points Are Crucial in Corporate Coaching...

You're a coach in the corporate world.  That means you know a lot - about a lot of things.  

It also means you've been trusted - whether formally or informally - to share your observations, thoughts and wisdom with others about their performance.  With that comes great responsibility.  I'm assuming you're good at what you do and have what it takes from a Subject Matter Expertise perspective to coach effectively.

So allow me to tell you where you're going to #### it up:

You're going to give your coaching recipient 10 things to think about the next time they perform the subject of your coaching.

Maybe 5 things.  The number is important, but also meaningless once you go above 2-3 items you attempt to coach on in a single session.  Let me explain what's out there in business books and then give you my own experience.

If you read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, you'll see the best in any field have 3 things present as they develop into world-class performers:

--They spent the time practicing - the 10,000 hour rule

--They had access to facilities/tools to practice the skill in question

--They had access to a coach/system that could provide immediate feedback

What's most interesting to me these days is the coaching part of that loop.  The older I get and the more coaching I do, the more I'm convinced that coaches have to be very selective in the feedback they give.  As SME's in whatever we do as coaches, it's easy to unload a list of things that a person should do in order to improve they next time they perform a task/service/etc.

You're a common sense person, so when I tell you "don't give the subject of coaching 10 things/points of feedback", you get it.

What if I told you that 3 points of feedback are too many? 

That's harder, right?

In my outside life away from business, I serve as a basketball shooting coach for some good to great players at a variety of ages.  The research Gladwell cited in Outliers certainly hold true for my students - they have to have a desire to put in the hours, they need access to an indoor gym and they need immediate coaching and feedback, which is where someone like me comes in.

In my basketball coaching life, experience rapidly brought me down to a coaching 3 points of feedback - base/feet, hand placement and speed through the zone/finish.  That's all I coach on, because different players have different styles and it's my job to maximize them - not change something that will take them backwards.

But experience as a coach in hoops has taught me something else - while it's OK to have culled my coaching package down to 3 things, when the player is getting reps in, 3 points of feedback is way too many.

What I've learned is that I can go into a coaching session thinking that we need to work on two of the three, but on a rep by rep basis, I can only give feedback on one.

One point of feedback per rep.

If I give feedback on more than one point of my package, it becomes so overwhelming to the recipient - you guessed it - improves on nothing at times during the session.

You're a good coach in the corporate world.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself when it comes to how you give feedback.

Coaching more than one point of feedback in a session?  It's bad for everyone's health.

 


VIDEO: Dealing with Sidetracks In Coaching Conversations...

Featured today - an interview I did with Tim Sackett for Talent Talks (a great series brought to you by Saba Software) on Dealing with Sidetracks in Coaching Conversations...

You know what sidetracks are even if you don't know them by name...  You know you need to coach a direct report on an issue, so you engage, only to get blown back by the employee with all the reasons the current situation (the one you're coaching on) exists.. It's them, it's their tools, hell, it's even you.

Yes, you! Sidetracks are so dynamic your direct reports can use them to throw you under the bus!!

Take a look at the video below (email subscribers may need to click through to see player) for ideas on how to deal with sidetracks.  If you like what you see, make sure to visit Saba Software- and don't forget to like the video or throw us a comment!


The Power of Self-Diagnosis In Corporate Coaching...

We've all been there as coaches in corporate America for our team.  

We know the adjustment we need our direct report to make. It's easiest to just tell them what to do with a side dish of "why". Self diagnose

That's prescriptive coaching, and it has its place.  But telling someone what to do is rarely the best path for long term results.  That's why tools I've talked about in the past, like the Please Shut Up 6-Step Coaching Tool, always involve you "shutting up" and forcing the recipient of your coaching to respond/talk/engage.

But there's a senior level to coaching strategy.  I call it Self-Diagnosis and it goes something like this:

1--You've got a long term investment in coaching someone on your team.  You've spent the time, they've heard how you want it done.  If you're really good, they feel like they have participated in that process.

2--Unfortunately, they're still ####ing it up.  They're not as good as you want them to be, especially since you've spent the time.

3--They have good intentions - they are trying, they just haven't put it together - the muscle memory isn't automatic, perhaps it's a reps (not enough practice or live situations) issue.

4--They mess it up. You want to tell them what to do.

5--You resist the urge and go into being a coach that has "self-diagnosis" as part of your package.

6--Next time the performance isn't there, instead of telling them what to do, you ask them to self diagnose what went wrong. Hopefully you've established a pattern of limited feedback points (3-4 things that they need to do given the task or situation).  The first time you ask them to self-diagnose, there will be silence - they're used to to you telling them what to do.

7--But, if you keep asking them to self diagnose, a funny thing happens - they start to develop the ability to evaluate their own performance, which is the true key to performance improvement.

Using self diagnosis is a powerful coaching tool.  You have to lay the groundwork with limited feedback points for the situation/task, as soon as you've done that, you can start using self-diagnosis.

If you haven't used self-diagnosis before, be patient.  It might take 3-4 sessions before the employee understands the expectation is clear - they have to self diagnose, and you're not going to bail them out.

You know you've won when they start self-diagnosing without you asking them to.

Or you could keep telling them what to do and see how that goes for you....

 


Twitter, Trump and Renegade Employees On Their Last Day...

Stop me when you're heard this one before.  

Employee gives notice they're going to leave the company.  Company decides whether it's worth it to allow the employee to work the notice they've just given.  If the risk is high, the employee is offered a hardy handshake and told the notice won't be necessary and walked out the door (whether they are paid depends on the financial status of the company).

You know you've done it before.  The rule of walking people out without letting them work the notice is generally reserved for execs, sales employees and after that - the employees you've always had problems with - I'll call them the canker sores of your company.

Generally, you know which employees to walk out the door.  Occasionally, you let someone stay to work the notice and it totally comes back to bite you on the ass.  That just happened at Twitter - more from The Verge:

President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, @realdonaldtrump, disappeared from the site for around 11 beautiful minutes shortly before 7PM ET. It was not initially clear what happened to the account, and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a series of tweets issued by Twitter’s Government and Elections team, the company first blamed “human error,” then attributed the move on a rogue employee who used their last day on the job to boot the president off the service. 

Trump's account coming down was originally thought to be a hack.  But here's your tweets with Twitter acknowledging that yes, Jan from customer service, who's moving over to the power company because she's tired of Twitter's shit, deactivated Trump's account on her way out the door.  Kind of like the scene in Jerry McGuire where he leaves the company, takes a fish, makes a scene and ruins and admin's life, except different:

Tweets about trump

Which begs the question, can you prevent employees from doing stupid stuff before they leave?  Probably not.

For any last day renegade action like this, you'll have some employees who cheer it - but just as importantly, you'll have the majority that will think the employee was a complete idiot.

Here's some basic rules for the situation:

1--Trust your gut. If you think the employee is a jerk, don't let them work to the last day. But don't get a reputation for paying out 2 weeks notice, either.

2--Don't allow employees in their last days TO HAVE ACCESS TO SYSTEMS THAT CAN DISABLE FUNCTIONALITY FOR THE POTUS.  Yeah, that seems important - star this one.

3--If somebody does something stupid, find a way to reinforce how stupid it was to the rest of the employee base.  I'm not advocating ruining that employee's reputation, but if they did something stupid, you might as well tell the internal world in a way that doesn't celebrate it, and instead causes people to ponder the recklessness of the moron.

You can't walk everyone who gives you two weeks notice out the door.  But you can trust your gut.  Check your state laws on whether you have to pay a notice out.

 

Snoop Dogg, Lonzo Ball and Having a Favorite Direct Report on Your Team...

“His daddy put him in the lion’s den with porkchop drawers on.”

–Snoop Dogg on Lonzo Ball via Twitter

Let's start with that quote.  Most of you know who Snoop Dogg is (music industry), but you may not be familiar with Lonzo Ball or Lavar Ball, father of Lonzo.  To level set, Lonzo Ball is a professional basketball Beverlyrookie who made his debut at 19 years of age with the Los Angeles Lakers last night.  Lavar Ball is the father and professional promoter of his son(s), who has been very active in the media describing that his son is going to be the greatest of all time.

Read up more about Lavar Ball here if you so desire.

That means Lonzo came into the NBA with a bit of a target on his back - a rookie with a big promotional wave behind him, a wave that provokes veteran NBA players to test/challenge/abuse a rookie like Lonzo to a greater degree than they normally would.   Lonzo's first game with the Lakers presented that type of challenge from a veteran named Patrick Beverly (Clippers guard) who came out super physical with Lonzo and had this to say after limiting Lonzo to three (yes, 3) points in his first NBA game:

"I just had to set the tone," Beverley said. "I told him after the game, due to all the riff-raff his dad brings, he's going to get a lot of people coming at him. He has to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game. But what a better way to start him off. I was 94 feet guarding him tonight. Welcome his little young ass to the NBA."

The quotes from Snoop and Beverly got me thinking about the topic of favorites on your team.

Do you have favorites on your team?  Some of us do and some of us don't.  If you have a favorite or you've recruited a new hire that you think can do great things, the Lonzo Ball debut is reminder of the danger of over-promotion.

It's human nature to hear hype about someone and start gunning for them.  Here's some ways that can impact your team if you have a favorite or are overhyping a new person on your team:

1.  You have a favorite.  80% of your recognition verbally is about stuff they work on.  Your spend 80% of your time with the favorite.  

2.  The other direct reports - who may or may not be as good as the favorite-get tired of hearing that #### about the favorite.

3.  Your favorite needs help from the team to be successful.

4.  Depending on your culture and the personality of the "non-favorite" direct reports, the non-favorites either discretely withhold help or outwardly gun for the favorite in a negative way in their interactions with him/her.

5.  By over-promoting your favorite (or a new hire you have high hopes for), you've made it much harder for them to be successful if the other team members decide to play hardball and cut them down a notch, which is a very human reaction.

Favorites are an interesting case study.  Your team might have a opinion about who on the team is your favorite.  Whether they try to take that favorite down a notch or two is dependent on how you treat the rest of the team.

Lavar Ball (the dad) has a favorite (his son Lonzo). He treated the rest of the team (the world) like crap.  The rest of the world (every guard in the NBA) is going to do everything in their power to make life hard on that favorite.

Lonzo will have some good nights in his first year with the company (the NBA).  He'll also have some nights where Patrick Beverly will be waiting in the conference room, determined to make his life hell.

Good luck Lonzo.


The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach...

I saw this one last weekend.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Here's your set up.

Alabama's football team is coached by Nick Saban - did a post early this week after what a control freak he is.  The thing is, if your system gets great results, you have the ability to be a complete control freak.  If you're not a world class leader, you can't be a micromanaging control freak, because people you manage won't take it - they'll revolt.

Most of us aren't good enough at what we do to be complete control freaks.  Nike Saban, however, is good enough.

Here's a new thought to add to that post earlier this week:

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Video clip below (click through if you don't see the clip).  Talk about what to look for after the jump. 

Alabama is playing at Texas A&M.  The outcome was never in doubt, BUT... Texas A&M scores and is kicking off, and IF they recover an onside kick, they could throw a hail mary with 5 seconds left to tie it, etc.

So the onside kick is cleanly fielded by one of Alabama's best players - in a roster full of 5 star recruits - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Here's where it gets interesting.  Average players field that onside kick and collapse like they've been shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick. is not average, so he fields it cleanly and runs it back.  That's what stars do, right?

Ultimately, he gets pushed out of bounds, celebrates with his teammates and then at the :23 second mark of the video, puts his hands over this face like he's just seen a ghost.  

He saw Nick Saban.

Flash forward to the :27 mark of the video. Minkah Fitzpatrick. comes to the sidelines and takes a tongue lashing from Nick Saban before an assistant grabs him to explain things more calmly as Saban walks off.  The coaching is obviously that if you fumble as you run it back, there's a chance we lose this game.

What's interesting to me with this one is that Micah Fitzpatrick looked over at the sidelines after the celebration and thought, "oh no" - I screwed that up.

He's one of the best players on the best team in the country, and he just made a great play.  But the devil was in the details, and when it saw the sidelines, he realized the coaching that was coming.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Success brings a lot of positives to your organization.  One of the things we don't think about is how open talented people are to coaching.  But ff you're losing as a company, it's harder to coach the great ones.  If you're winning, it's easier.

The more you develop a culture of success, the more open all employees - even the great ones - are to coaching.


Candidates Who Try To Cheat the Behavioral Interview Are Actually Doing You a Favor...

A week or two back I penned a post wondering out loud if the Behavioral Interview was dead.  Of course, I don't think it is, and a big part of my thought process is that it remains a tool that we just haven't spent enough time training on. 

So it's easy to say that it doesn't work.  Of course, our managers for the most part aren't great at interviewing and we haven't really tried to train them on interviewing skills across corporate Assumptions-ahead-signAmerica. 

Finally, there are people rationalizing that just because there are thousands of returns in Google providing advice to candidate to "beat the behavioral interview" - we should abandon it as a meaningful tool in the interview process.

Candidates are trying to cheat the behavioral interview?  Sounds like the perfect candidate to me.  My readers agree - from the comments section of the HRC:

From a reader named Kimberlee:

Yeah, it bothers me that so many people (still?) think that interviewing is a gotcha game or a power play or a thing a person can "pass" or "fail." It's a pernicious perception on the part of both employers and candidates. Interviews should serve purely as a way to talk out whether the candidate is right for the role and right for the company. If candidates are preparing better for those conversations than they were in the past, that's perfect. That's ideal. Anything that will help me take the scared spitter-of-canned-responses candidate in front of me and turn them into someone who can just tell me about themselves, what they've done, and what they hope to do is great in my book.

More from a psychologist named Gary:

Wow, thanks for pointing out this rather alarming trend with respect to how behavioral interviewing is being perceived. As a Business Psychologist, I can say that behavioral interviewing is still an effective tool that is a staple of my candidate assessment/selection process (along with other measures, like personality and cognitive assessments). It's almost as if people believe that the "list of behavioral interview answers" has been released on the internet, while professionals know that there are no "right" or "canned" responses that will "pass" the interview - it just doesn't work like that. And, in agreement with another comment on this article, I also believe that candidates preparing for behavioral interviews by thinking through their best work examples is a win-win for both the candidate and the interviewer. So, in my view, behavioral interviewing is "alive and well", and will be considered best practice for a long time to come.

And a guy named Matt from California (via Mississippi) broke it down in 15 seconds of typing:

So candidates know about behavioral interviewing so they spend some time thinking about various scenarios they have encountered so they are more prepared and can effectively relate them to the interviewer... Win/Win! Maybe I have oversimplified.

Yep - these are my readers!  Way to smart to take the bait on bad advice.

 


BHAGs: You're Afraid. Elon Musk is Not...

BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies Elon-musk-mars you’ve probably never heard of…

-Reaching a defined target

“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s

-Competition

“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s

-Organizational Change

“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s

-Reputation

“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s

Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?

Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.

You know who else is good at BHAGs?  Elon Musk.  Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.  

Electric Car with quality and luxury?  BHAG.

Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads?  B-freaking-HAG.

Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world.  The topic is Mars - more from The Guardian:

Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.

Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.

The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.

BFR.  Musk isn't messing around.  The BHAG is set.

If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen.  Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.


Social Loafing - Do People Give Less Effort When You Add More Resources To a Team?

Social Loafing -the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.

Hmmmm....

----------------------------

From a book I'm reading...

One of the first scientists to explore the dynamics of group effort was a guy named Maximilien Ringelmann.  In 1913, Ringelmann conducted an experiment in which he asked Social loafingstudents to pull on a rope, both individually and in groups, while he measured the force they exerted.  The conventional view was that people in a group would have more power collectively than they did alone - in other words, adding people to the pulling group would have a multiplying effect on the force.

But the results were surprising - While the force applied did grow with every new person added, the average force applied by each by each person fell.  Rather than amplifying the power of individuals, the act of pulling as a team caused each person to pull less hard than they had while pulling alone.  Later researchers coined a name to the phenomenon.  They called it social loafing.

A later Fordham study decided to look at whether social loafing could be overcome.  They wanted to see whether one person giving a maximum effort could incite other to improve their performances. The scientists grouped their shouters in pairs and, before they began shouting, told them that their partner was a high effort performer. In these situations, something interesting happened. The pairs screamed just as hard together as they had alone. The knowledge that a teammate was giving it their all was enough to prompt people to give more themselves.

Is social loafing real in the workplace? I'd say 100% it is.  While high performing teams can do amazing things, the question is what does it take to be a high performing team?

You know some of the answers, right?  Goal setting, consistent feedback, task and role clarity within the team, etc.  Read deeper on social loafing and you'll find that the lack of clarity related to individual expectations causes many team members to assume/rationalize that other team members will do certain activities - so there's no need for them to act.

The impact of a reported high performer in the Fordham study is interesting as well.  Let's say you're at your company (ACME) and while you're a talented gal, you've had it on cruise control for awhile - the work is mundane, the people are mundane and even though some of your work teams aren't producing stellar results, you're still considered a high performer.

Why work harder? You're in a rut. 

Suddenly, a new hire shows up and you're told they're from a progressive company and are considered a key hire.  They're inserted into 2 of the 4 work groups you participate in at ACME and damn, they start trying to shake things up and get more done - even if it means doing more themselves than others are doing.

What do you do in those circumstances?  Deadbeats who are already long gone from an effort perspective might let them do it.  But anyone who still has ambition and a desire to be a high performer is forced to step up their game.

Social loafing exists in your company until you create some type of competition to wake people up.  

What type of competition is required?  Depends on your culture and your team.  Could be a key new hire, could be a project chart showing what people are working on or an overall scoreboard that puts the team in direct competition with others - or simply with themselves.

If you want to stop social loafing, introduce competition.  Competition is not a dirty word.  Don't let a sleepy culture at your company tell you otherwise.

 

 


Is Behavioral Interviewing Dead? The Internet Said So...

Deep thoughts today, people... Deep thoughts.  

Was at a conference last week and heard a keynoter basically proclaim the following (I'm paraphrasing):

"Behavioral interviewing is dead.  Just google the term and you'll find thousands of pages designed to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing."

OK.  Let me break that general thought process down a bit.  There's one word that comes to mind when I hear a thought leader proclaim that behavioral interviewing is dead with that logic as the reason. Rationalize

Rationalization.

People are tying to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing!!  That means it's ineffective as an interviewing technique, right?

Um, no.

When behavioral interviewing doesn't work well, it's because you haven't giving your managers the training they need to be successful.  Actually you might have given them the training.  What you haven't done is given them the gift of failure.

For anything related to manager training, failure=role play as part of your training.  You've got to give them real practice using the skills you're teaching them.  If they don't fail as a part of your training, there's ZERO chance they're going to try and use the skill in the real world.

If you don't force people to fail in your training, they'll never be effective in their real lives as managers.

Is behavioral interviewing the end all/be all?  No.  But it's an effective way to drill down on candidates (no hypotheticals! What did you do specifically in that situation?  Not the team - you!) if you give your managers the training they need.

I'm cool if you don't like behavioral interviewing - shine on, you crazy diamond.  Just don't fail to give managers what they need and then blame it on the Internet.  That's called rationalization not to train.

PS - If you're in the market for cool training your managers will actually like, check out my training series called BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager.  It's full of stuff that will engage your managers and give them the skills (and initial failure) they need to get better!  Bonus - below is the first video we show as part of our behavioral interviewing training - featuring Vince Vaughn and Owen Willson (email subscribers click through for the video).