The Coach's Corner

Archive for 2014

The “Building Your Own Dream Team” Series

December 22nd, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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Most businesses are currently experiencing strong demand for their products or services. Very predictably, many of you say you’re short of people at all levels, and some of you have found yourself in a bidding war to hire someone. I often hear owners say, “Our people are our most important asset.”

So, it seems fitting, as we look forward to 2015, to spend some time discussing people. Over the next several months, I will present a series of posts entitled “Building Your Own Dream Team.” I believe the best companies take into consideration the following elements when putting their team together:

  1. PERFECT CANDIDATE — Clearly define the perfect candidate (i.e. skills, background, experience, etc.) and determine the best place to find them (i.e. a particular university, community college, high school, etc.).
  2. GOOD FIT — Establish a rigorous process to ensure the candidate is a good fit with your company and the position, and vice versa.
  3. CO-OP — Offer internships, co-ops and apprenticeships to attract great talent to your company.
  4. MENTOR — Make buddy/mentoring programs available to your team members.
  5. FEEDBACK — Offer clear, actionable developmental feedback to all team members.
  6. ADVANCEMENT — Provide opportunities for advancement.
  7. RE-RECRUITING — Develop and monitor your re-recruiting process.
  8. SPECIAL PLACE — Create a special place that people are proud of, and where they want to work.

Our next blog will begin the “Build Your Own Dream Team” series.

Still relevant after all these years

December 8th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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As many of you know, I am an avid reader of business books. After hearing about Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How To Win Friends & Influence People, for the 50th time, I decided I had to get my own copy of the book, which was first published in 1936.

Wow! Add me to the Carnegie Fan Club! How can a business book that is more than 75 years old still be relevant? Well, it is! It also nicely complements To Sell Is Human, by Daniel Pink (see our June 23, 2014, posting).

As you know, I am almost obsessed with getting leaders to provide actionable developmental feedback. Hopefully, I have encouraged you to be prepared, thoughtful, and careful with your word selection in your conversations and communications.

Along those lines, here are Carnegie’s WARNINGS:

  1. Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself.
  2. B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.
  3. Hans Selye, another great psychologist, said, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

So, everything I have written about still stands. My takeaway is that it is important to be very careful and cognizant of how you are communicating your message in conversations.

Please, let’s focus on people’s strengths

November 24th, 2014 // Barbara Doescher //
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For years I have struggled with the incessant focus so many of us seem to have on people’s weaknesses. The tendency has stretched from the working world to the classroom; I saw this firsthand when my son, a card-carrying introvert (just like me), was told by his teachers that there was a problem — and the problem was that he needed to talk more (see our November 10, 2014, posting). My outlook on this issue completely changed when I heard the co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham, speak at a conference. He, along with others, began a movement to train leaders to focus on building their team members’ strengths rather than searching for ways they could overcome their weaknesses.

In 2008, I discovered Leading From Your Strengths, an assessment tool within the strengths movement. After a little investigation, I decided to become a certified facilitator. Since then, I have had the joy of helping individuals all around the world.

You may ask, “How is this program different from other assessment tools?”

First of all, it focuses on a person’s strengths. It isn’t a personality test that labels you or tells you what you already know about yourself; instead, it predicts how you will behave when approaching problems, new information, change, and risk. While other assessments overlook the facts that some people are naturally optimistic while others are skeptical, different people handle risk in different ways, and some team members move faster while others are more thoughtful, Leading From Your Strengths takes into account all these possibilities.

From what I have seen, the real power of the tool is most evident when working with teams, because it helps individuals better appreciate their differences when making decisions and/or dealing with conflict. I believe the best companies value all points of view.

Do you fall into the same trap as our son’s teachers, who didn’t appreciate what was good about him and only commented on what they perceived as his negative trait? Do you ever find your team in conflict resulting from their different personalities and abilities? What are you doing about it?

The Power of Introverts

November 10th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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Earlier this year, we had the privilege of hearing Susan Cain, an author and former corporate attorney, speak. As we reported in LinkedIn, we had a major epiphany while listening to her comments regarding introverted people. It was a great reminder of a simple fact: If your goal is to be the best leader you can be, you must be a lifelong learner and be open to new points of view. Susan’s observations and revelations, which were supported by years of research, were eye-opening.

We found a 17-minute TED Talk featuring Susan, and it speaks for itself. If you want to be a Jim Collins “Level 5 Leader,” we encourage you to invest the time to listen to it.

You can learn more about these ideas in Susan’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Do you have introverts in your company who you have been encouraging to become more outgoing? Does your company have a bias toward extraverts?

Please take the time to listen to Susan.

A tribute to our new hero: Mary Kate Bryant

October 27th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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Mary-Kate-Bryant-PhotoIn March, I (Tom) had a life-changing experience. I attended the funeral of Mary Kate Bryant (grandmother of my former partner Paul), who died just shy of her 97th birthday. Due to her age, I anticipated a small crowd, mostly family members. When I arrived at the church, the parking lot was full. To my surprise, the place was packed with people who Mary Kate had helped throughout her life. At one point in the service, participants were allowed to say a few words. The line was long and the stories were touching. Mary Kate was truly an impact player.

So what? Here is the “So what.” I carry Mary Kate’s picture, along with our “Last Life Marathon” goals, in my wallet. Looking at her face challenges me to invest in people, like she did, all the way until the very end.

Here is our challenge for you. Consider this question: Ultimately, why does your company exist? Once you’ve done that, spend some time contemplating whether there’s a picture/visual that you and your team could rally around, like my photo of Mary Kate?

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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