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Business Management career coaching Leadership Development Uncategorized

You lead like a girl! Do this today to instantly improve your professional credibility

As many of my readers know, I started my leadership journey more than 20 years ago, as the only female manager in a booming blue-collar, male-dominated company. Although I had more management training than many of my peers, I struggled with being taken seriously. Often my ideas were overlooked, or sometimes ‘borrowed’ (with no credit given to me), and it was difficult for me to engage in even constructive conflict without being patronized. At one point, I despaired that I’d ever really enjoy leadership, and only persevered because I knew I had something to offer, and I also knew if I wanted to maximize my earning potential, I had to crack the leadership code. How could I get my bosses, peers, and subordinates to take me seriously?

Does this sound familiar? If so, I have great news! I figured out what I had to do to give my professional credibility a facelift, and I’ve never looked back. From those fumbling, awkward beginnings, I’ve led teams, departments, and company initiatives, and eventually started my own consulting business.

I figured out what it takes to establish and maintain professional credibility, and I’m going to share it with you.

If you struggle with wondering if you’ve got what it takes to be a true leader, or worry that having a personal life rules you out of management, or even feel that you’ve made some mistakes that you can’t recover from, then you’ll be relieved to learn that NONE OF THIS disqualifies you from being a powerful, inspiring, and effective leader!

Today, I speak confidently, knowing I bring value to the table. I ask for what I need in a reasonable way, and don’t apologize for being human. I give constructive feedback without feeling guilty. I admit when I’m wrong without cringing. I champion ideas and lead powerful initiatives without worrying about failing. In short, I’m a leader who loves her job, and you can be too!

If you’re like many women leaders, you fought hard to get to where you are today…and yet…

Besides being a leader professionally, there may be several other, often contradictory roles you play in your life, which means that there are countless different things requiring your time, attention, and energy, and at times it feels like you’re not quite giving anything ‘your all’.

In addition, you may have been taught from a young age that making mistakes was a sign of failure. You also might have received conflicting instruction about being assertive, being polite, and how to accomplish things effectively through others (i.e. management)

As a result, you may have some built in ‘credibility blockers’ that are keeping you from feeling successful and fulfilled in your role as a leader. These include:

  • A Fixed Mindset
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Lack of quality training and mentors

Any one of these (let alone all three) can make your leadership journey feel exhausting and frustrating, and you may unconsciously be sabotaging yourself without even being aware of it. You can take this quick quiz to determine if any of these are impacting your credibility:

  • Do you feel like you are a leadership ‘imposter’ and if people ‘really knew’ you they’d know you weren’t a great leader?
  • Do you become anxious and fearful about your career prospects?
  • Do you imagine negative outcomes associated with asking for help?
  • Do you become impatient with yourself when change doesn’t occur quickly enough?
  • Does the thought of management or leadership training leave you feeling overwhelmed and skeptical?
  • Do you find it hard to trust others to provide honest feedback and training?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you need the following information so that you can learn how to overcome these obstacles and boost your professional credibility!

What I learned is that the biggest blocker to anyone’s professional credibility is their beliefs about themselves, and the most important factor of success in any area of life, but particularly in one’s leadership journey – is how to reprogram your mind and beliefs to create lasting change in your life.

This is the key to transformation, and failing to implement these secrets will keep you feeling stuck. Once you reprogram your mind to believe and embrace your identity as leader, you will see opportunities everywhere to develop and improve your skills. You will notice new mentoring opportunities, and you will be excited about the future.

I promise!

I’ve developed a transformational program to provide the tactical, strategic, mental, and emotional guidance you need to conquer challenges in your professional and personal life. Here is a free download containing a portion of the program from the module ‘Redefine your leadership image’, containing practical information you need to learn how to reprogram your mind and thrive in your professional role.

Today’s Leadership Solutions is a Seattle-based consulting firm dedicated to providing business owners peace of mind and job fulfillment by ensuring their management teams are equipped to run their businesses successfully. With certified executive coaches, organizational development experts and HR Professionals, we consult with small to medium sized businesses on management, leadership, and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. We can be reached for consultation at info@todaysleadershipsolutions.com.

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Business Management coaching Leadership Development management systems New Managers organizational development Recruiting Training

Why growing businesses NEED a management selection and training process

When you’re the owner or senior leader of a growing business, one of the hallmarks of growth is the need to elevate managers to help oversee your operations. I think we tend to underestimate the difficulty of this step. Managers change the blueprint of your company instantly and irrevocably, and yet so often a selection and training process is overlooked. What should  leadership development program look like and how can you implement this amidst the chaos of rapid growth?

In a perfect world, you will have anticipated your growth and will have these plans in place well before you need them. But we all know that things rarely go according to plan. All too often, it looks more like this: You experience a dramatic increase in business and revenue. At first it’s fantastic, and you’re excited (and relieved) that all your hard work looks like it’s paying off. All the fear and anxiety you’ve had about whether this business is really viable, and/or if you’ve got what it takes, is alleviated and it’s a wonderful feeling.

Before long, though, you start understanding the term ‘growing pains’ in a whole new way. You just aren’t able to keep track of things by yourself. There have always been facets of your job that you know aren’t your strengths (maybe it’s administrative, maybe it’s managing day-to-day tasks, maybe it’s dealing with angry customers) but before you were able to stay on top of things. Now, the sheer volume of things to do means you’re spending a much greater amount of time doing things you don’t like, and aren’t that good at. You start dropping balls, and realize that you can’t keep going this way and maintain the service and quality that led to your growth in the first place.

So you hire or promote managers.

If you’re like most owners, you may assume that your managers are on the same page as you regarding their role, and how to perform it, and what’s really important in your company. This is your first mistake. The second most common mistake is to underestimate the importance of a strong proficiency in management and business basics. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this can make or break your culture and ultimately your business. As a management and leadership consultant, I am frequently called in after the problems have started, and each and every time prevention would have been much easier and more cost effective than problem-solving. This is accomplished by a leadership development program that allows you to select and train your managers to ensure you are putting the best people in the roles, and providing them the support necessary to gain proficiency in the foundational skills.

The foundational areas are: Basic legal compliance, employee relations (leadership), and performance management. Before you can begin training your managers in these areas, you first have to determine who should be in these roles. Some foundational skills are rather easily trained, and some take longer and are more challenging. Here are the skills to look for and/or train in order of difficulty, from MOST to LEAST difficult (approximately).

  • Ability to inspire and lead others by casting a vision of the bigger picture and articulating each person’s contribution to the whole.
  • High emotional intelligence, with the ability to manage perceptions, exhibit self-control, and communicate consistently, respectfully, and optimistically in times of intense pressure. Must be able to represent your company professionally and courteously to employees, stakeholders, and vendors, regardless of the circumstances.
  • Strong communication skills, with the ability to convey complex and abstract ideas clearly and concisely in a written and verbal format, to a variety of audiences.
  • Thorough understanding of your product and service, with the ability to train and coach every aspect of the operational role.
  • Proven ability to identify and utilize performance metrics to help individuals perform to their highest and best level.
  • Ability to address and resolve performance issues while reinforcing each employee’s intrinsic value and value to the team.
  • Understanding of business basics, such as profit and loss statements, revenue drivers, and profitability drivers.
  • An understanding of protected classes, basic employment law (FLSA status, wage and hour laws, ADA, and HIPAA protections).
  • Legal and effective coaching skills and the ability to dress behavioral problems in the workplace.
  • Legal and effective interviewing skills.

A good leadership selection protocol will identify these areas behaviorally and allow you to score applicants as objectively as possible to ensure you are being fair and consistent in selecting your future leaders. You need to take into account the urgent needs of your business while considering the long-term implications of selecting a candidate lacking an important, hard-to-train skill. Regardless of the experience and skillset of your manager-to-be, it’s important to train them in the basics before fully endorsing them as managers. There’s a legal benefit to conducting and documenting training. Not only that, a basic tenant of management is to treat each employee the same. Bypassing training on a ‘highly qualified’ candidate sets the tone right out of the gate that they’re above common protocol.

When conducting your leadership training, I think the best approach is a combination of low-hanging fruit, and impact to operations. Therefore, I recommend a quick and thorough review of legal compliance. First, because it’s easy to create standardized training – whether it’s an orientation webinar, or pre-recorded training of some sort. This is a great preventative measure right out the gate.

The business and performance management piece also lends itself well to group or virtual training. The specifics of your business are unique, but profit and loss concepts are universal, as are the fundamentals of performance management. You can often standardize quite a bit of this training, and have individualized training as a second or third step.

Last is the vision, communication, and emotional intelligence quotient of the job. Hopefully you haven’t hired anyone for a significant leadership position who is lacking emotional intelligence or communication skills, but it’s not uncommon to need to work on these skills when promoting from within. If you’re promoting your top performing individual contributors, there may be a great deal of leadership training and coaching you need to invest in. Ideally, this will be done as part of a succession plan, and not on-the-job. Similarly, the tribal and product knowledge specific to your company will not be present in candidates from outside your company. You’ll need to decide how important this is. It can be a deal-breaker for some companies, and simple enough to overcome in others.

To wrap it up, you’re doing yourself, your managers, your employees, and your company a huge disservice if you neglect to create a management selection and training process. True, you can hire and promote managers without it, but dollars to doughnuts you’ll spend a lot more time putting out fires if you go that route.

If you enjoyed this, please share the love…and sign up for a freebie…Quick tips for legal and effective interviewing…right here! Come hang out with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Performance Management experts, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Business Management Leadership Development New Managers

Three things your new managers need to know and how to teach them

If you haven’t noticed by now, training new managers is one of the things I’m most passionate about in my consulting business. There is no other group that I work with that is more motivated to learn, more in need of the information, and better positioned to make a positive impact in their organizations. I remember from my days of running HR and Organizational Development departments for growing companies that there are literally thousands of providers offering so-called management training. Some are cheap and some are wildly expensive and it can get overwhelming. It doesn’t help that the people who need the training are usually not the best ones to determine what kind of training they need.

Case in point: It’s been my experience that most new (or even seasoned) managers will tell you that they need training in time management, communication, and management skills. If you’re the one in charge of arranging for this training, you can spend thousands before you realize that this hasn’t actually helped. For example:

  • Time management courses almost all present cookie cutter information that you can get yourself online, and won’t help the real problem, which is usually multiple and conflicting priorities and managers who don’t have the tools or resources to manage them.
  • Communication problems are not usually communication at all. It’s usually a lack of systems and processes, and a culture that has permitted lack of follow through and broken commitments. This is not fixed by role playing difficult conversations.
  • Management training means so many different things. My main issue with canned management training is that to be a good manager you have to be able to manage performance, and newer managers need very practical, relevant information about how to do this, which I just haven’t seen done well in affordable classes all that often.

I think there’s a pretty safe rule of thumb you can follow when arranging for or creating management training for newer managers. First is make sure they don’t get you or themselves sued, second is make sure they don’t drive away your great employees, and third is make sure they know how to manage your resources to maximize profitability.

1. Don’t get sued: Even if you have a good HR department, it’s advisable to educate managers on at least the basics of employment law so they know enough not to get you in hot water. You’d be surprised at what you might take for granted that they don’t know, and I always say that common sense and employment law rarely intersect. An overview of protected classes, overtime law, and the ins and outs of privacy and leave laws will inform your managers of areas where they will need to ask for help. This can easily be done via webinar or in person if you have the resources. I’ve found you can cover the basics in about three webinars.

2. Don’t drive away good employees: This can happen when managers are promoted, or are brought in to a new team. Most problems result from newer managers reacting to the real or perceived pressure of their new roles by setting unrealistic goals for their team, blowing up, or acting unnecessarily abrasively. This can be easily corrected by helping them understand the roles and responsibilities of a leader and by role-playing various tough situations they are bound to face. I like peer group settings for this type of training, because the more we can use real life situations, the more applicable.

3. Maximize your resources and profitability: I so often hear business owners complain that their managers don’t care, and this is hardly ever true. If we want our managers to steward our resources effectively, we have to teach them how. Don’t just tell them to manager their overtime without telling them how. Or even more importantly -why. Explain profit and loss statements, show them how their departments contribute to the purpose and profitability of the company. Give accurate and timely feedback. This can be accomplished best by theory, and by practical application. We can explain the basics of a P&L using the same terminology across multiple industries, but you would use different metrics to manage a sales team and a manufacturing one.

Of course there are many other areas that managers benefit from training. I’ve found these three to be the top priority. If you neglect training in these foundations, it will be difficult to reach your goals, minimize potential problems, and create the kind of morale you want in your company.

If you’re a leader who wants to learn more about developing your team, click here!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, come hang out with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, and please share the love.

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management systems Uncategorized

Do you still love the business you started?

If you’re like many business owners I’ve encountered, you started your company because you are passionate about the service or product you provide and confident that you can do it better than anyone. It may be true for you that you know that your employees have a choice when it comes to where they work, and you appreciate that they’ve chosen you. You’ve most likely always succeeded as a result of your hard work and perseverance, and therefore you enjoy having employees and managers who have the same qualities. If you promote from within, it may be because of this, and you likely feel a lot of loyalty to the people who are passionate about your business. Many business owner start their company to give people a great place to work that will support them and their families, and they want to provide an above average lifestyle for themselves and their families as well.

As you’ve started to grow, if you’re like most business owners, you’ve noticed that things are falling through the cracks that never used to. Even though your managers were superstar employees, they might not always be able to get the performance out of their employees that you could in their role. Although you probably don’t feel like you’re asking for too much, maybe it seems like a struggle to get performance evaluations, productivity updates or labor hours managed to expectation.

Most business owners hate feeling like they’re coming down on people all the time, but they also hate never quite knowing how the company’s performing and if they’re going to meet budget. There’s usually so much more they want to do, but don’t feel like the team’s ready. You may have noticed an increase in turnover, with employees starting to complain that they’re not getting treated fairly, or trained enough. It costs far too much to replace employees to keep losing good people and you almost certainly didn’t get into business to train the competition. Sometimes you even ask yourself if it’s worth it. Any of this sound familiar?

Now imagine a different scene:

Your managers treat your company like it was their own, and are diligent about managing your resources so that waste is minimized and you are highly profitable and able to re-invest into your employees. You have systems that identify and reward the hardest working employees, who as a result love working at your company, and recommend it to others. You’re able to give back in multiple ways because there’s so little waste and dead weight. Everyone’s on the same page about the company goals and how to get there, and employees and managers love finding creative ways to make the company better. You truly feel like you’re a team, and the people in your company are all working together to succeed. You actually love coming to work and so do all your employees and managers.

This isn’t a dream. This is the company you deserve, and we can help you get there. Let’s talk.

www.todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Uncategorized

Business Owners: Is that training or system worth your money?

As a business owner you have thousands of opportunities every day to improve your sales, leads, prospects, manager effectiveness, employee productivity, profitability, safety…you name it. Some of these might be the key to success and some of them might be a waste of time. We’ve all been there: an ad, program or service that touches just the right note or pain point we’re feeling and convinces us that THIS ONE THING will solve our problems! Maybe the ‘constant drip’ of cleverly crafted emails finally reaches the tipping point, that free webinar just grabs you, or that vendor calls you right as you’re experiencing the same problem AGAIN – and before you know it you’ve purchased a solution.

None of us are stupid, so when we make the decision to buy it’s either because we are convinced that it will work, or we’re so tired of the problem that we’re willing to take a chance on something we’re not convinced about ‘just in case’.  I’ve been there-done that more times than I can count. Sometimes it’s been the best thing I’ve ever purchased and sometimes I’m left feeling like an idiot who was complicit in my fleecing.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking these forms of marketing. When you have an awesome product or service of course you want to tell people about it!  But as a buyer, how can you determine if you should buy it, or once you have, if it was worth it?

One thing I’ve noticed as both an Organizational Development executive, Business Coach, AND Entrepreneur, is that there is a preponderance of solutions that, while they sound great, do not offer a lot in the way of guarantees. The biggest problem with most of these solutions is that they are necessary, but not sufficient, components of change. Taken in the wrong context they are unlikely to achieve the results you’re paying for, but it’s hard to see that because they just make so much sense!
•    Tired of employee turnover? Increase engagement with roundtable meetings!
•    Want higher productivity? Improve your line managers’ communication skills!
•    Need less injuries? Have more safety meetings!
•    Want this, that, or the other? Training, training, training!

Now, I’m overgeneralizing to make a point, but you get the idea.  Here’s the irony – I AM a coach, I AM a leadership trainer and I love training people in communication skills! HOWEVER…I am diligent about explaining the role of training in behavioral change, and the inadequacy of training alone in creating sustained change. It’s not that I enjoy complicating marbles (much), it’s just that right out of school I was mentored by a pioneer in the applied behavioral sciences field. Because he was a professor, he made sure I was rock solid on a few key concepts before he set me loose in any organizations and some of the major premises that were ground into my SOUL were:

  • Results happen when the right behaviors occur at the right time with the right frequency.
  • There are very predictable laws as to what interventions lead to more behaviors, less behaviors or no change.
  • You need to measure something to understand where you’re starting so that you can determine the effect of your interventions.
  • Everything is measurable and if you’re spending money on it, you’d better be able to quantify it.

This holds true no matter what your industry. Whenever we’d go to a convention or organization to talk about how to get increases in performance people would listen and then say ‘that sounds great, but you can’t measure what we do’. But we could, and we did.
Because we were essentially conducting experiments, we had to measure the baseline as well as the effects on any intervention we introduced.  For any business owner, the immediate takeaway is that:

  • Before buying ANYTHING to ‘increase performance’, figure out how to objectively determine where you are NOW. Get a baseline and do not spend money until you know where that baseline is. Distill it down to the individual level as much as possible (You can learn more about that on my free download).
  • After applying the intervention (training/tool/meeting/whatever) measure again. What was the effect directly after the intervention? This will tell you if there was any short-term effect. Then measure again after several weeks.

Even though years of applied research definitely declares that training has only a moderate short term effect on performance, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure it. That’s better than NO impact, right? And if you’re investing in a more comprehensive system or tool, you will absolutely want to measure performance and results on an ongoing basis. If it’s an awesome system, you’ll be gratified to see the continual results and you will quickly become aware when it’s time to change it up a bit. If it is having no effect, you’re going to want to find out soon, and hopefully get your money back. If that’s not an option, you’ll at least know and either tweak things or mitigate the time and money on the system.

At the end of the day, you’ve worked too hard to waste money on solutions that don’t solve anything. You deserve to know how solutions are working, and the only way to do that is to get a performance baseline first!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com 

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Help! I’m plateauing or even on the wrong Mountain! What do I do?

Last week I wrote about defining your Mountain, in terms of establishing larger than life, long-term goals as a way keep focused on your overarching purpose and mission in life, as well as utilizing short-term mini-goals to ensure forward progress. Having a well-defined sense of purpose keeps you passionate about your efforts and can be the glue that keeps a high performing team enthusiastic, engaged and excited. But what if, as a leader, you feel like you’re on a plateau or have even lost sight of the Mountain? This happens to the best of leaders, frequently. We all have a myriad of options and career opportunities and sometimes can get so excited by a new venture that it can take considerable time to realize that it’s not leading up the Mountain we want to climb.

In my opinion as a coach, plateaus can happen for a few reasons. The first is simply attaining a goal. The problem with most goals is that if we haven’t thought about what will happen after we attain them, we immediately go out of action after we’ve hit that goal. For example, when I write novels, I used to make my goal writing a novel in X days, and I always accomplished that goal. And the book sat there. If the Mountain was writing a novel, I was a success, but if the Mountain was becoming a successful published author, then simply finishing the first draft is just one mini-step along the path. It took me five novels and some woe-is-me angst to actually get that and get off the plateau of non-published to published author with an actual contract and release date.

Another reason plateaus can happen is plain and simple burnout. No matter how well you pace yourself, if you are run long enough without a break, YOU will break. Our culture is particularly terrible about lauding overwork and work-life unbalance and buying into it will result in feeling like you’re plateauing but in reality you just need some refreshing time.

Boredom is another culprit behind the plateau. If you do the same thing time and again, you will attenuate – and this holds true in every area of life from exercising to leading. I used to have team meetings every Monday and it was a great way to exchange ideas and keep the team enthused….until it got a bit too routine and the meetings were more of an obligation than a motivation with nobody getting anything out of it. Taking a week break to change up the format and do things a bit differently added the spice back.

The fourth component of plateauing is inertia. If you are not being intentional about taking every opportunity to learn and grow you will hit a plateau. Although we all fantasize about having a leader and company that invests in our growth, and that is a wonderful thing when it occurs, our growth is an inside job that we are all responsible for. If you create any forward motion here, you will pick up speed, but beware of inertia because it’s a lot more difficult to get moving after you stop. If this is you, get started again with just 10 minutes a day invested into reading or talking about something you are passionate about.

But what if you’re not on a plateau, but on the wrong Mountain altogether? How do you know you’ve climbed the wrong Mountain? It’s different for everyone, but a sense of unease, of being trapped, of frustration and even depression is a good clue.  This is not to be confused with ordinary fatigue, the goal taking longer than expected, or hitting unanticipated obstacles. If you’ve ever taken a detour from your true calling, you know that this is a very different thing.

It can happen to the best of leaders and seems to be most common in people who have multiple strengths. John Ortberg explains it best as a Shadow Mission. The basic concept is that we all have competencies and callings and sometimes they are not the same. Some of us get distracted by our competencies, or are motivated by fear of failure or economic insecurity to pursue our competencies in lieu of our callings because it feels safer. In Mountain language, you pack your bags and start climbing the wrong Mountain. Because you’re a good mountaineer, you’re likely to get very far.  If you find yourself climbing the wrong Mountain you only have three options. Keep going and forget about your original Mountain, stop moving (and die) or backtrack and get back to your original Mountain.

The times I have found myself on the wrong Mountain, my first response is usually to keep going. To do otherwise feels like quitting, which is unacceptable and counter to my self-concept of being able to overcome anything. This has rarely (okay, never) worked out in my favor and usually ends up with me subconsciously or consciously sabotaging myself in order to get off the mountain.  The next response is then paralyzed indecision. This is where I question every decision, make excuses for not going back and starting over and trying to convince myself that the view at the top of the Mountain I’m on is likely to be just fine. Staying in the same place will only accomplish getting eaten by a predator, so it’s also not a good idea.

That leaves backtracking and/or starting over. To figure out if this is what I really have to do, I have to get quiet and try to imagine myself twenty years from now – what will I want to be doing, what will I want to have done, and is my current situation getting me closer or farther away? Another good barometer is a values check – does my current situation allow me to be in alignment with my values and beliefs? The answer is usually apparent, if seemingly inconvenient.

It can be scary to find yourself on the wrong Mountain, but rest assured ignoring it won’t do a thing to make it better and rationalizing only goes so far. As someone once told me, if you navigate by the firmaments, when you get off track you will be able to detect it and course correct.  And in the end, it’s worth it, because energetically climbing the right Mountain for you is the most fulfilling thing you can do personally and professionally.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work. As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Uncategorized

How can coaching help me perform better?

It was almost ten years ago now that I embarked on the journey to become a coach. I’ve always known my calling had to do with helping people enjoy their lives more fully. This calling has led me to obtain my degree in psychology, and to be attracted to roles such training, teaching, consulting, and coaching. What has always appealed to me about coaching is the premise that you are not making a dysfunctional person functional, but rather helping an already functioning person reach the next level in their growth and development. During my certification process, I took courses in things like powerful questioning, reframing perspectives, and I learned specifically how to work with professionals in transition – either to a new career or to the next step in their existing career. A large part of the certification process was not only coaching others, but being coached, and this was one of the most challenging – and transforming –  parts of the process.

In the ten years that have followed I have received good coaching as well as abysmally bad coaching and my appreciation for the discipline only continues to grow. At the same time, I’ve worked with many fine organizations that are in the process of growing and have seen firsthand how well coaching can augment corporate growth and reap benefits that include more effective managers, more productive employees, reduced turnover, and the ability to attract top talent based on growth and development opportunities.

In my opinion coaching for management and high potential people is highly valuable in companies with a formal training and leadership development program and indispensable in organizations without one. The reason boils down to human nature and the simple fact that most people on some level feel somewhat unqualified for their roles, and live in a state of low level to high level anxiety that their next mistake will reveal this and their livelihoods will be at risk. For this reason alone, it is very difficult to coach or train one’s direct reports because it is too difficult to have the raw honesty and transparency needed for true growth. Not to mention the supervisors are often in the same boat and don’t always have the clarity of perspective an outside third party has. In addition, in most growing organizations there is very little bandwidth for supervisors to invest in up and coming managers to the extent that is needed.

Formal leadership training is important, and group training is very effective when introducing concepts such as goal-setting, delegation, and performance management, but when it comes to individual development, nothing can replace coaching. Of course, I say this with a caveat, because not all coaches are created equal.

The essence of great management/executive coaching is the ability to hear what a client is saying, and also possess the business acumen, leadership skills and intuition to hear what is not being said and to ask powerful questions to help the client discover their own answer. What makes it so difficult is that it also requires the coach to lay their ego aside and NOT assume they simply know the answer and ‘walk the client down a path’ to the ‘correct’ solution. A coach assumes that it is the client who has the answer, but the coach’s personal experience and training allows them to answer productive questions. Coaching can and should challenge the client to think about different perspectives and consider innovative, untried solutions.

On the other hand, there is bad coaching. Bad coaching can take different forms. From a purist perspective, bad coaching consists of leading the client to the coach’s own solution, or directing a client to what action to take. It’s a fine line that most coach/consultants have to navigate. Sometimes a client genuinely doesn’t know an answer and is looking for the coach to wear a consultant hat for a moment. When this happens, both parties should be aware of what is transpiring. Other bad coaching occurs when the coach tries to make the client uncomfortable for the sake of discomfort. This is an ego/power move on the coach’s part and can lead to significant distraction pursuing unproductive questions. If your coaching always leaves you feeling frustrated and like you’re pursuing the wrong line of inquiry, you may not be in the right match for you.

The benefits to managers and leaders of having a coach can’t be understated. A coach allows a manager to work through issues, personnel problems and areas of conflict in a safe place, gaining valuable insight into their productive and unproductive responses. It also can allow the manager to work on areas that are affecting work performance, such as work life balance, career goals and identifying one’s calling. A manager who is working in alignment with his or her values, in pursuit of clear goals, with the emotional intelligence to lead subordinates to do the same will not only be a more satisfied employees, they will be a force to be reckoned with in terms of productivity.

For that reason, investing in a management coach for your team can be one of the best investments a senior leader can make.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

 

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Winning where it counts

If you are a business owner or leader, I can tell before I’ve even met you that you have high standards for yourself and don’t like to lose. Part of the journey of becoming successful not only in business but in life is learning to channel that high-achieving spirit into things that both matter and offer the highest return for your emotional and time investment. If you are a perfectionist type this can be a particularly difficult journey because it necessarily (as in always, as in no exceptions) means that you will at some point in your life need to delegate and/or outsource functions in order to maintain and grow. This transition, although inevitable, can be a struggle if you’re not prepared.

Depending on your circumstances, this is tough for various reasons. If you are a manager or leader, it probably means that you will at some point need to delegate functions to people who may or may not have your experience and skillset, may or may not be as invested in the success of the organization as you are and may or may not (although probably not) do things the way you do them. Most of us who have led individuals or teams have learned that peace of mind comes only when one releases oneself and one’s subordinates from the stifling yoke of perfection. Celebrating progress, effort and improvement the key to loving your job as a manager versus being continually frustrated and burned out.

If you’re a business owner or senior executive the premise is the same – if you want to grow, be successful, and/or have a life you can’t do everything yourself. Obviously entrepreneurs just starting out sometimes do have to wear all the hats, but if this keeps up indefinitely, you may be just a really overworked independent contractor.

Fortunately for all involved, we live in an economic period where outsourcing and freelance assistance is available for almost every function. This means that companies can focus almost exclusively on their core service or product and pay experts for whatever else they need. If you own a fitness business, or a sign-making shop, or develop software, you can focus just on that and pay others to perform HR, Financial Reporting, Payroll, Marketing, Accounting and Recruiting to name just a few examples. The beauty of the outsource model is that you can scale up or down as you need. There are providers for every size of business. For example, my business provides small scale talent searches for companies who need help with recruiting while my partner, Source2 provides high volume Recruiting Process Outsourcing for employers who are spending time and money on more than 10 hires a month.

I love the outsourcing models for a lot of reasons. As a coach and consultant, I love that it allows business owners and managers the ability to really streamline their core product, drive efficiencies and become leaders in what they do. It speaks to my coaching philosophy of playing to your strengths, because I believe that’s how you become exceptional. The alternative is usually becoming proficient at best, mediocre or even dangerously poor at performing tasks for which you have no skillset or passion.

Is outsourcing right for you? A good first step is to determine what is working for you right now and where you need help. Ignorance is not bliss here, by the way. If you are not doing anything at all regarding HR compliance, for example, continuing along this path is probably not in your best interest. Your pain point may be that a) you are constantly in a state of low level anxiety about what fines or penalties you may be risking or b) you are actively in danger of a lawsuit or audit. It really shouldn’t be a question of IF you are going to get compliant but how? Do you hire an HR person, learn it yourself or outsource? The answer depends on many factors.

Recruiting is another example. This is not most managers’ favorite activity (to say the least) and is usually not a manager’s strongest skill and yet finding good, quality employees is almost always on the top five list of strategic objectives of a company. If you only hire one or two people a year, you probably suck it up and go through the process of writing job descriptions, placing ads, interviewing and all that. Unfortunately, the more you need to hire, the more complicated it becomes and the less likely it is that you have the time, energy, passion and/or know how to utilize all the best practices like branding yourself as an employer, leveraging that brand across social media and job boards, qualifying applicants in a timely manner etc.

Sound overwhelming and like something that could pull you dangerously away from your core business? Guess what? There are providers for whom your headache IS their core business. At the end of the day, you only have so much time, energy and resources. It only makes sense that you, as a business owner or leader, should spend as much as possible of all of these on the things that you and only you are best suited to do. Forget about ‘rounding’ and instead keep your edges sharp and competitive by winning where it counts and adding other thoroughbreds to the stable when you need them. 

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Why Limitless HR Solutions?

Have you decided your company is finally ready for an HR Director or HR Manager?  We can answer your need for a top quality HR Manager or Director for a fraction of the cost.  Let us partner with you to build a best in class HR infrastructure that is legally compliant and strategically aligned with your goals.  You will receive the benefit of working with a seasoned executive hands-on to assess your needs and put in place all your required HR processes and procedures without incurring a fixed labor cost to your budget.  This enables you to hire a solid generalist or administrator (if needed) rather than a higher level manager and we will support you on your out of the ordinary situations.  It’s a win-win.  Best of all, there are no long-term commitments required.  You’ve got nothing to lose except personnel headaches and fears. 

How do you know you need Limitless HR Solutions?

You’re not sure your handbook is compliant with all the most current laws (or you don’t have a handbook at all), your personnel records are filed by common sense, not necessarily federal requirements, your company has outgrown your processes, hiring and onboarding is a major headache and you’re starting to become afraid of what you don’t know.  If you’re growing or getting ready to grow you might also be seeing an increase in employee relations issues and your managers could use some help and support.  You don’t even know where to start!   We can help!

With Limitless HR Solutions, you will receive the benefit of two decades in the Human Resources and Organizational Development field, in multiple states and multiple industries, including:
•    Vast and current knowledge of legal compliance to ensure you are meeting all relevant state and federal requirements
•    Proven track record of establishing HR departments within budget
•    Wealth of strategic experience to ensure your job descriptions, wage classification and wage banding are in alignment with your organizational short and long term goals
•    Years of experience successfully establishing incentive plans and employee engagement to ensure you are attracting and retaining the right people to make your business successful
•    Top notch leadership and development experience to work with your supervisors and managers for specific training or ongoing coaching
•    Extensive experience in both Washington and California labor law
•    Calm, cool, and collected: We don’t like to say we’ve seen everything, but we’ve seen a lot.  Chances are if you’re having an HR problem, we’ve dealt with that situation or something similar.  Don’t swim through shark infested legal waters on your own. We have an on-call HR hotline for on-the-spot issues. We’ve got this.
•    Years of experience with benefits selection, administration and broker relations
•    Handbook and IIPP creation
•    Policy development, implementation and enforcement
•    Onboarding and orientation

Call or email now for a free consultation.  949.354.1588 or carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com