Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

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We have been ticking down the list of the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Today, we’ll take a look at our leaders.  Too often, folks are promoted to a position because they have proved themselves to be very good at the job they did.  There is a huge difference between being a great “Do-er” and an engaging “Lead-er”.  Since these skills often do not go hand-in-hand, appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your leaders.

If employees are the foundation of a business, leaders are the essential framework as we begin building a business to a higher level.  The ability to engage others is the most essential part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set. The daily actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of engagement.

Appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your existing leaders. This will allow you to identify top-performing and lesser-performing leaders.  The results will reveal a predictive performance pattern.  With this, you can compare the results to these benchmarks and accurately determine if your leaders are in the right jobs.  You can then decide if the gaps are because of a selection issue or if coaching and development can provide the solution.

Always begin by identifying the leadership skills that are most effective in engaging employees.When you increase the effectiveness of your leaders’ ability to engage and motivate their team, job satisfaction, productivity and better profits increase along with it. You will need feedback about each leader from his boss, peers and direct reports to accomplish this. When you have this information, you can successfully align leader’s behaviors and skills with the expectations of the organization and his boss.   Now, by the use of on-the-job coaching and performance feedback, you can begin to close the gaps in the desired skills and behaviors.

Next time, we’ll put together all the pieces of the team!

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Creating a Team Building Culture


Last time, we discussed “what not to do” when your mission is creating a culture that puts a high value on strong teams.  We identified the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

We begin with employees, because they are the foundation of your strong teams.  First, make sure they are in the right jobs. The average employee wants more than just a paycheck from his employer, many want training and stimulation so they can develop and promote. You can provide this opportunity using predictive performance or job matching technology. This way, you can strategically invest in your people, fully developing them for the jobs they are in, and you can tailor specific training for career advancement.

Identify your target employees, those who fit well in their current job, are fully engaged in their current role, and whose performance exceeds expectations. This is the kind of employee who achieves goals and has the ability to elevate the performance of other employees, teams, departments, and divisions. The right assessments will tell you about employees’ cognitive skills, job-related behaviors and occupational interests. You’ll need the right data for identifying your stand-out, target employees and those employees who are doing a good job but may not yet have emerged as your rising stars.

Challenge your employees! Managers may be four times more engaged than frontline employees because they have additional responsibilities. Give your employees stretch goals and let them learn from their mistakes. This will enhance the level of employee engagement.  Get their feedback as you challenge them because what you learn from them can be extremely important in helping implement solutions. Try this approach: Encourage the employee to identify: What can be improved?  What do we need here?  What can be adjusted? What should we start or stop doing?

The actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of your employee engagement. This is critical because it needs to be a vital part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set.  Next time, we’ll learn the value of assessing your leaders to reveal how adept they are at engaging those on their teams.  We will show you how!

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The principal opponent of the protagonist is a character known as the antagonist, who represents or creates obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.

This morning I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with some amazing women who have conquered significant obstacles in their journey through life.  More so, they have slain their antagonists; one right after another.

Thestrong_woman1-237x300 panel was for the Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center (MOWBC).  It’s worthy to note the Mission of MOWBC, “To empower women to become economically self-sufficient by providing targeted education, workshops, job training, strong relationships and resources that provide business, professional and personal growth.”

The meeting theme was ‘You’ve Come a Long Way Baby’ as we were there to celebrate Women’s History Month.  While each of us spoke from our own unique ‘life lens’, I noticed a key thread that wove through our stories…we each fought the antagonists in our lives and refused to allow them to hold us back.

Who or what is your antagonist?  How long will you allow it to hold you back?  And what do you plan to do about it? Jim Butcher’s famous character, Harry Dresden, offers this sage advice: “The only way to deal with the things we fear is to face them; to drag them kicking and screaming out of the darkness and destroy them.”

I have come a long way, baby.  Way longer and farther than most, who’ve known me for years, would likely know.   I am what most would call a ‘Survivor’; yet the lens I look through labels it ‘Success-0r’.  You see, I had the great fortune some years back to have worked for a great person who became my mentor, my friend, my coach.

My coach helped open my mind and helped me comprehend myself, all of which allowed me to bring to fruition my successes.  I could tell you all of the great things my coach said, because they’d all be true.  Or I could tell you about all the accomplishments I’ve had a result of that coach, because they’d all be true.  Heck, I could even talk of the fact that I have ‘come a long way, baby’ because of this coach, and it’d be just a plain fact.  But the truth is, the most important thing my coach taught me was the value of a coach.

Even today and though I carry the dual title myself of a Certified Leadership and Executive Coach and that of a Certified Business Coach, I myself still have a coach; a couple of them as a matter of fact.   I have a formal, certified coach that I keep in touch with regularly – who helps me on the professional side – and I have many ‘informal’ coaches that I tap into – personally – when needed.  All of whom help me continue to slay the antagonists who attempt to throw obstacles in my way.

In 17 days, I’m launching my newest business venture.  I won’t play ‘victim’ and describe the litany of obstacles I’ve faced in the past three years getting to this point.  But I will say a big “THANK YOU” to my certified coach and my informal coaches, without them I may not have had to courage to well…”drag my fears, kicking and screaming out of the darkness and destroy them.”

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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www.ellisonpartners.comBy now, most of us have forgotten our New Year’s resolutions and with good reason.  Most aren’t things we actually do but rather dream about.  The big question is, now that we are nearly a quarter of the year through 2013, how is 2013 shaping up for you? Are you well on your way to accomplishing – not your New Year’s resolutions – but those things that must happen this year for you to proclaim 2013 was a success? If not, what are you doing about it…TODAY?

I tend to focus on what is working and what the next thing is that needs to happen.  We refer to this as our “Keep Doing, Start Doing, Stop Doing List” where we keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t and start doing what needs to happen next.  We aren’t alone. Inc.com, in a January blog, cited a recent survey of 40,000 small businesses owners that asked ‘What’s working?’.  The survey found the best ideas boiled down to three key things:

1. Deciding on the right focus. Identifying the best and most profitable customers, and learning to say no to the non-profitable ones.

2. Using new products, services, and technology to increase efficiency and productivity. Some mentioned online payroll; a dentist talked about using an iPad to show his patients close-up pictures of their teeth.

3. Investing in current staff. A number of small business owners talked about training and educating their employees, as well as better communicating with them to make them feel more a part of the company.

I think most small businesses (those with up to $21 million in sales and up to 500 employees) would agree this is a great ‘Keep Doing’ list.  So what’s on the Start Doing and Stop Doing lists?   These two lists outline the steps you’ll take to drive progress.

You don’t need luck to ensure 2013 is your most successful year ever but it won’t be enough to just think “If you build it, they will come.”  Successful people know that ideas, strategy plans, and New Year’s resolutions don’t necessarily get you anywhere.  What will make 2013 successful for you? Action.

Krisztina “Z” Holly, founding executive director of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation and MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological  Innovation and creator of the first TEDx conference was quoted in the March 2013 Leadership Issue of Entrepreneur magazine.  “Big ideas are just that – ideas – until you execute.” she says.  “A lot of company leaders like to talk about thinking outside the box, but there are so many ideas out there already ignored, ironically, because they don’t fit in or are just way too ahead of their time.  What we need to do is figure out what to do with the ideas we already have and make them work.”  By that, she means figuring out how these ideas will make money.

I challenge you to stop the urge to recreate the wheel; to stop the urge to create new ideas when you haven’t executed the great ideas you already have.   Today is about action.  Execute on what you know is working, stop doing what you know is not working and start doing what you need to do next.  These are very simple ways to create action toward executing those things that will make 2013 your best year ever.

What will you act on today? Chew on that one for a bit and I’ll be back with some ideas for your ‘Keep Doing, Stop Doing, Start Doing’ list.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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Return on Investment, otherwise known as ROI, is calculated on most business investments.  For money invested in training and development programs, ROI is measured by how well the participants apply the newly learned skilled.  Or is it?  Disappointingly few skills are actually implemented on the job and business results achieved as a result of applying those new skills are lacking.  Worse, effective leadership skills are among them.

Asleep at DeskBersin & Associates research found nearly 75% of all leadership teams fail to achieve business goals.  I cannot help but think about the sinking feeling you get when you realize your leadership team didn’t hit their business goals. It’s one we’ve all felt at times but successful leaders understand that to remain competitive they cannot afford to fail in achieving business goals.

The good news is that the Bersin research proves organizations have signficant opportunities to improve their bottom lines by developing leaders with the ability to act on their organizations’ business goals.  In fact, Bersin asserts the business case can be made for effective leadership training by citing research showing that good leaders can double profits.

So what can you do to ensure that your employees apply the skills they learn in training?

It’s really fairly simple when you think about it.  Start measuring the ROI on your training dollars spent.   If you aren’t measuring your ROI on training,  you’re risking ineffective training and employees who miss their business goals when they fail to carry out the skills learned.   I can’t help but wonder why any leader would tolerate this?www.ellisonpartners.com/leap.php

A colleague of mine, Andrew Neitlich, posed a key question to leaders he coaches: “What are you tolerating in your leadership role that is costing your team and organization revenues, profits, productivity, employee morale, and/or customer loyalty?”  Neitlich, Founder and Director of the Center for Executive Coaching, noted that ‘In life as in business, you get what you tolerate’.    He challenges leaders to control what they tolerate and what they don’t and to set the tone by chosing one thing you are going to stop tolerating in your organization and to take action today.

Smart leaders are chosing to stop tolerating another dollar being spent on training programs without a direct way to ensure skills learned are applied on the job and in their companies.  They’re taking action to ensure training ROI is achieved by insisting the training programs they invest in:

  • Show how they support the application of the newly learned skills on the job; and,
  •  Prove the link between the training and improved business outcomes as a result of applying new skills.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2013.

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Key IdeaPosted on March 8, 2013

Synergy, now there’s a buzz word if there ever was one.  So what does it mean?  “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Everyone’s heard that expression. OK, but what does that really mean? Simply this, an effective team can accomplish more together than the individual members can accomplish on their own. Building a high-performing team culture requires more than just throwing a group of outstanding folks into a room and telling them they can’t come out until they have a solution. Maintaining a team culture that’s highly productive requires planning, communication and decision-making. Assess individual strengths and weaknesses, build support, establish the conditions for effectiveness, agree on your goals—and you’re on the road to building a championship team.

If instead, you lead with your emotions, shy away from hard decisions, cross your fingers and hope that the process will “work itself out”, or if you build a team made up of your personal favorites, then don’t be surprised if your outstanding individuals fail to become your dream team. We see it in sports all the time and it happens in businesses too, maybe even more often. Based on our experience with many of America’s Most Productive Companies, we’ve identified four things you must do create an effective Team Building Culture which will sustain your high-performing teams. In order to create a team-building culture you must do the following:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Next time, we’ll explore ways that you can do just that and you might be surprised at the results and delighted to see what it does to the effectiveness of your team.

Betty Streff is a Human Capital Expert and Leadership Coach with Ellison Partners.  She facilitates the LEAP™ leadership acceleration program and helps ensure leaders have the employee data necessary to effectively and profitably manage their workforce.

©Ellison Partners 2013.

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You might not be familiar with Capt. Edward A. Murphy but I would bet you know his moniker: Murphy’s Laws.    Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will.”) was born at Edwards Airforce base in 1949.  Capt. Murphy, an engineer, was actually credited with an old saying that had been around for years.  It was a term he used in describing one of his men who had wired a transducer wrong.   A project manager had been keeping a list of things Capt. Murphy said.  Today we know that list as Murphy’s Laws.

I think people, for the most part, work hard to do a good job in part because getting noticed for good work gets us promoted often to a management position.     It’s in that moment we are excited, happy and full of desire to do a good job once again.  After all, we now have a bigger job, more pay, more responsibility. Wait. What? More Responsibility? What does that mean?  Have you ever found yourself promoted to management and after the excitement wanes you wonder ‘now what’?  You surely don’t want you manager to be like Capt. Murphy, overlooking your work, and lament “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Here are 10 things you can do today to ensure your name isn’t linked with Murphy’s Laws:

1.  Accept that you still have much to learn.  It’s ok not to feel fully confident in your new leadership role.  You’ll have time to continue learning if you do just that.  Be prepared to learn from others – including your own team.

2. Communicate clearly.  Of all the issues that keep my company in business it’s ‘lack of communication’ that I hear the most.   Harboring information is a surefire way to trouble.  Open lines of communication with your team; share goals, priorities, and deadlines; provide clear direction; welcome questions and ask for feedback from others.  Effective communication will be essential in establishing your credibility as a leader and gaining the support of your team.

3.  Set a good example.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking now that you are management it’s your teams job to rise above while you sit with your feet on your desk.  Demand the same level of professionalism and dedication from yourself that you do from your team.  Be upbeat, friendly and willing to do as you say.

4.  Encourage feedback.  When I’ve share this tip I often hear “What if I am not prepared to do whatever they suggest?”.  The tip is Encourage Feedback  not Do Everything Suggested.  Employees don’t always share what’s on their mind.  Prompt them for feedback, canvass for opinions, listen to concerns and ask for ideas.  Maintaining an open door policy requires more than physically leaving your office door open a crack.  You must solicit input, help your employee feel heard, sort through what you hear and use the feedback that can improve things for your company and it’s customers.

5. Offer recognition.  Praise doesn’t have to be formal.  A well-placed Thank You goes a long way in encouraging future contributions and effort.  Make recognition part of your day-to-day communication with your team.  Recognizing them in front of their peer and others builds up your teams confidence.

6. Be decisive.  A quality leader knows how to sift and sort through information to arrive at a decision point.  Sometimes this is done quickly; other times a quality leader might delay a decision. At whatever point you have enough information to make a solid decision, do so and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean don’t alter your path if a decision truly needs revising but for the most part made quality decisions then stick with the decisions you make.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  You only have to  look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7.  Help your team see the “big picture”.   Do you know where you and your job fits into your company’s larger goals?  Do you know where your team’s jobs fit?  If not, find out then be sure to communicate it.  This helps demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s success, reputation and bottom line.  Everyone needs to know they belong.  Help your team see and feel why they and their jobs are important.

8.  Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said “If you’re green, you’re growing.  If you’re ripe, you rot.”  Whether or not you are a fan of McDonald’s or not, the point should be well heeded.  Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their goals and company goals.  Allow them to make and learn from mistakes; be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9.  Provide professional guidance.   A good manager and leader will also be a good mentor.  Make yourself available to your team and show interest in their careers.  Don’t overlook the power of positive reinforcement.  Continue to develop your skills, especially those focused on results. A focus on execution and achieving actual business results will put you far ahead of those quoting strategy and theory any day.  Require, for any training you consider for yourself or your team, that the trainer show proof their program works.  Don’t settle for creative marketing.  Insist your training dollars are spent on that which can prove the connection to helping you achieve measurable business results.

10.  Be patient with yourself.  As it goes ‘Rome wasn’t built-in a day’.  Recognize strong managerial and leadership skills take time – especially as you adjust to your new position.  Don’t expect to effectively learn significant leadership skills in a week-long seminar. Seek guidance to learn as you go, giving yourself time to try out new skills, and adapt what you learn to your own style of leadership.  Seek guidance formally through coaching and informally through peers.  In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager and respected leader.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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