The philosophy presented in Coach to the Goal is not new. But as a reader, you’ll be asked to view familiar situations in a new and different way. And if you’re a leader, my goal is to challenge you to ask yourself, “Why am
I here? What is my preeminent responsibility as a leader, manager or supervisor?” My hope is that you’ll learn your role is to make a positive impact on people who are under your influence. The lens of a coach may help you see this more clearly.
And when you go home each day and ask yourself was today well-spent and did I do good, you will answer yes only when you have looked into the eyes of your people and with words that are strong, clear and compassionate somehow make them better than they were that morning. The growth may be barely noticeable to the naked eye.
But as their coach, you will notice and they will know that you know. The players on your team long for a leader who will teach; challenge; and love them right where they are.
As you become a coach, you’ll learn what winning really means. You’ll begin to keep score differently. And the journey of success will mean more than its attainment.
You’ll see more value in people than results and focus more on opportunities than failures. The faces will stand out over forms.
That which is excellent but yet cannot be quantified is the coach’s source of strength. Personal, emotional, mental and spiritual growth is the path toward victory no matter what the scoreboard says. Why? True victory, which is sustainable over time, is not measured in an afternoon or a day but rather in a lifetime.
All the great coaches knew that it was never about the game. It has been and always will be about the players and making them great.
Great players have always found great coaches. It will always be this way. Those who are so fortunate as to grasp this elusive truth change the world together. Coach John Wooden got it. He and his UCLA Bruins altered the face of men’s college basketball. It will never be the same.
Coach Wooden Coached to the Goal, as sure as any man alive ever has. And what did he accomplish? He was named the Coach of the Century.
Because of Herb Kelleher and his Southwest Team, the airline industry is forever changed. Unlike the other guys, Southwest hasn’t experienced layoffs, cutbacks, strikes or bankruptcies. And they make more money. Why? Coach Kelleher Coaches to the Goal.
He lives by the mantra: Put your people first and they’ll love your customers and treat them like family.
The way to successfully impact the win/loss column is not a direct attack. Focus on winning. Talk about winning and you lose. You win when your people win. And they win when they’re taught to pursue and attain personal excellence in all they do.
They will leave the team at some point and because you were their coach, they now know more about sacrifice, honor, effort, sportsmanship, integrity, love and life. How can they not win wherever they go? They are already winners. You taught them more than a game. You taught them how to live well and lose well with pride and honor.
I am excited that you want to learn to Coach to the Goal. Every word is from my heart and represents half a lifetime of lessons learned. I believe that leaders who coach are the most effective leaders of all. Why?
You find them leading with the heart, which by the way is the title of Coach K’s (Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke University men’s basketball team) book on leadership.
I love to coach and learn. I challenge you to open up your heart and mind as you set out on this leadership journey I call coaching. Teach me by sending me your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you, as you learn to Coach to the Goal. (This article is an excerpt from Coach to the Goal: 10 Truths to Transform Your Team into Winners).
I am reminded of one of the Seven Habits in Covey’s book, “Begin with the end in mind.” This statement is especially true in the perpetual quest for quality human resources.
In my nearly twenty years of recruiting I have learned the hard way that there is an emotional component to interviewing. The candidate wants us to like them, therefore they will be warm, charming and exude personality. All of this can be quite effective because¦well¦we find ourselves liking them and wanting to offer the job to the person we like best rather than to the one who is best for the position and the company. This subjectivity is distracting from our ultimate goal of effective selection. So how do we avoid it? Is it possible to build safeguards into the selection process that will limit our tendency to be subjective and increase our ability to be objective in this most urgent of management decisions? Yes it is possible and I have three proven methods for building objectivity into your hiring process.
Recommendation #1 – Build consistency into the process
Some of the most effective work processes in the world are found in franchises. Franchises harness proven systems and then make them a part of the day to day. This repetition of consistent processes makes excellent performance easier to obtain. The same is true in the interview process. I highly recommend you settle on three to five questions that are non negotiable. Ask these of every candidate for the sole purpose of excluding as many candidates as you can as early in the process as possible. The most common disqualifiers have to do with salary requirements, candidate availability to begin the job, travel requirements, appropriated health issues and candidate experience. Since these questions take only a few minutes to be asked and answered it is best to ask them on the phone as a â€œscreening interview.” A subordinate employee not directly responsible for hiring decisions could be trained to assist you in performing this screening interview therefore saving you valuable time.
Next select a group of ten to twelve questions that you have used over time. These questions have proven to determine the character, work ethic, skill level, and desires of the candidate. The ultimate goal in this stage of the interview process is to see if there is a potential match between the position and the candidate. The selection process becomes more effective and objective when you ask each question in the same order of each candidate. Copious notes should be taken in order to capture the essence of each answer. Later when you are alone you will be able to rate each candidate’s responses and compare them to one another with considerably less bias. As you discipline yourself to fight against the bias toward subjectivity you will be less swayed by the charm, warmth and personality of the candidates, thereby making a decision based more on fit and character.
Recommendation #2 – Assess and again I say assess!
I learned how to interview in the furnace of necessity. Auto Trader Magazine was experiencing phenomenal growth. The expectations were that we would achieve 20% revenue growth and double digit income growth each year. There was no way to do this without improving the quality of our people year after year. It became critical to our effectiveness as a manager to learn how to identify excellent performers and bring them into the organization. There is no better way to accurately predict future excellent performance than with a valid pre-employment assessment.
There are a variety of assessments depending upon the job and your goals. Some basic assessments do a remarkably good job at determining the candidate attitudes towards alcohol, drugs, work and honesty. These assessments are simple, quick and inexpensive and are therefore ideal for entry level positions.
Some assessments are one dimensional. Most commonly these are personality tests. Personality tests are highly effective at determining a candidate’s suitability for a sales position but little else. The best and most accurate predictor for job success is and always will be I.Q. or simply intelligence. I highly recommend a multi-dimensional assessment that is part I.Q. test, part personality test and part job interest survey. The assessment I like best allows you to create benchmarks in each of the three categories as well as an over all score. The most useful feature is that you can then compare the candidate against any of your current employees who is rated as excellent in the job you are seeking to fill. The software will even calculate mathematically how well the candidate matches up with the best people you have on staff. It is a great tool! I would never hire a candidate without first assessing them.
The hope is that each objective measurement reinforces your gut feelings or instinct about the suitability of the candidate. When the interview goes well and the test goes well also you can have greater confidence as you move forward with some candidates and exclude others.
Recommendation #3- Never hire without protection!
The value of references in the hiring process has been debated over the past few years. I think this is mainly because companies have been reluctant to give out any information other than the standard name, rank and serial number (meaning income and when they started and when they left). I have found a simple way to get the references you need in order to make great hires. I simply explain to the candidate that in order for them to even be considered for the position they will need to find at least three people who will speak to me about there job performance. The references must have been managers or supervisors and be able to speak with direct knowledge of their performance. Generally what happens is that the candidate will call an old boss and explain that they are interviewing for a position that they are very interested in and that they cannot be considered without the reference. I almost always get the references that I need. Once I get the reference on the phone then it is up to me to get the information I need.
The sad thing is that most companies don’t even try to get a reference. They may be provided but they are not checked. In the interview process all information is vital but especially objective information that will allow you test or cut the cards on the candidates own words. When we apply objective measures the best candidates only get reaffirmed. As we peel the layers back they look better. The goal is to ruthlessly weed out the candidates that are saying what they think we as interviewers want to hear. But fortunately they cannot back it up when they are put through the paces of a well designed selection process. A strong interview, valid assessment or thorough reference checking will cull out the misfits from the matches.
Give it a try! Build objectivity into your selection process. Watch the quality of your hires improve. See retention reach new heights. The final outcome will be motivated employees and excellent performance. Why? Because you began with the end in mind. You now know that if you desire excellence you must have excellent people. The difference is now you are better skilled at finding them.
This article was originally published in Business First of Louisville, March 1, 2002.
Last summer, Ray Strothman, president of Strothman & Co., a regional CPA firm, contacted my firm because he wanted to shift his company’s corporate culture.
The partners were ready to let go of the reins of power and pass it to a talented but less experienced group of managers. A more traditional style of management had been the norm.
How do you move an organization from a “top down,” manager-driven culture to a “bottom up,” employee-based one? This change process that Strothman wanted is called empowerment, and it will dramatically improve your organization, as it did Strothman’s.
Managing change is the foundation for all successful businesses, but unleashing the collective power of your employees requires special skill and focus. This new empowered environment is often uncharted territory for management. They must adjust to this new culture along with employees. So it is difficult for existing leaders to spearhead this “unleashing process” without some outside assistance.
The longer a company is in business, the more likely it is that top management is viewed as the driving force for change. Although solid leadership at the top of an organization remains the foundation for company growth, the empowerment process moves employees into the role of “driving force” while the leadership is able to be visionary.
A consultant can come into an organization and, over time, work with both management and employees to make the necessary changes.
I began the process by conducting an anonymous employee benefits and culture survey. The following areas of interest emerged from the findings: pay for performance, flexibility in work schedules and more communication.
We asked for volunteers to form a work group to address these issues. The response was overwhelming. Sixteen of 35 employees wanted to get involved. Instead of one group, two were formed. One addressed “pay for performance” and the other “culture.”
Weekly one-hour meetings began and continued for several months. I acted as a facilitator and assisted each group in setting goals and objectives for decision-making among participants.
Each group appointed its own leader and performed research, finding out how other firms had implemented better practices. This team-based approach gets everyone involved. Involved employees take ownership. They become the driving force for change and not a roadblock.
And, oddly enough, it does not always take long to see attitudes change. Recently, I was working with a local manufacturing company. After only five weeks, the employees were more positive and open with one another. They were communicating and thinking like a team. It was a dramatic shift.
As the groups work together, their ideas will begin to take the shape of proposals. I recommend that the group make proposals to management.
This is the most satisfying part for me. Without fail, I have witnessed management’s surprise at the performance of the employees. The quality of the research, the thoroughness of the proposals and the detail is astounding.
In the Strothman process, the “pay for performance” plan was extremely thorough. The formula determined by employees for compensation was stricter than the partners would have been.
A flextime policy emerged and received a clear buy-in from the staff. And the organization as a whole is communicating on a new level.
All this and more was the result of weekly one-hour meetings structured to produce tangible, deliverable results. As the staff takes on more responsibility for the day-to-day duties, then management can be free to be visionary.
To unleash the power of your employees, start with these key steps:
The traditional directive style of management is fast becoming a thing of the past. Turn your employees loose. You will never know the heights of what they are capable of until you empower them. Let your employees participate with you in the leadership of your company.
I have worked with many different companies through this process. But I never cease to be amazed. Take the risk. Let your employees have a chance to amaze you. Empower them, and they will empower you.