The Coach's Corner

Archive for the ‘Ideas to help you build a solid team’ Category

Winner of the 1978 Re-Recruiting World Cup

January 11th, 2021 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

When I say “I am a lucky guy,” I mean it. Recently I was reminded of a four-decade-old experience. I was a relatively new Plante Moran staff member when Barbara and I decided to sell our condo and begin our lake adventures. We had never sold a home before, so I went to my supervisor/mentor, Ken Kunkel, to seek his counsel. (For example, how do you get the timing of the sale to match the purchase of the new home?) Anyway, as always, he had a lot of good, solid, practical advice — plus, he helped me relax. Although I’m a calculated risk-taker, this was my first home swap-out.

We met several times. After each session, I would have some homework assignments. (As an aside, Ken knew quite a bit about the City of Novi, where our condo was located, and he knew the local officials, since they were his client.) Near the end of one of our meetings, to my shock, Ken said, “I may be interested in buying your condo for my daughter.” Really?

So, I started thinking, How is this going to work, selling to my supervisor? Ken suggested I get a couple of independent real estate appraisals and then we could discuss pricing. As you can imagine, I went from relaxed to nervous again. In addition to the appraisals, I did some of my own investigating, since we had a lot of friends living in Novi condos at the time.

In typical Tom Doescher fashion, I was very well prepared. You would have thought I was selling a Manhattan high-rise. The day came for our “pricing” discussion, and I shared all my findings with him; he studied the materials carefully. He took the highest appraisal, added several thousand dollars to the total, and said, “You and Barbara have made many nice improvements and are leaving several built-ins behind, so how does $X thousand sound?” He was definitely offering us a premium — plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about having my condo mortgage as a contingency on our new home offer, since he was offering a cash deal immediately.

I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or Barbara. It was like we won the lottery.

I had been re-recruited, and this was only one of the many reasons the “lucky guy” stayed with the firm.

Another Re-Recruiting Story … and Much More

September 14th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Recently, a client was telling me a story about a staff member who had left his company. He said, “Yeah, now I have a new client.”

When this staff member, a recent college graduate, started with my client’s company five years ago, his wardrobe was seriously lacking (editorial comment: At this point, I had no idea where this was going). My client said the new staff member was very smart and hard-working, but his sloppy appearance detracted from his overall effectiveness. So, one day, my client gave the staff member an envelope and said, “Why don’t you take the afternoon off and go shopping?” Inside the envelope was a list of suggested business clothing and enough cash to purchase the items. Wow, what a great story! But that was only the beginning.

My client told me that, more than 20 years ago, his mentor had given him an envelope with a business apparel shopping list and the necessary cash. My client went on to say he still has lunch with his now-retired mentor, and shared that the long-ago action had such a positive impact on him, he’s paid it forward with a number of junior associates over the course of his career.

The story gets even better. He said, “I now have five clients who were former colleagues, and at some point I helped them all with their wardrobes.”

Wow — what a great story about mentoring, re-recruiting, and new business development all in one.

Emotional Intelligence

July 13th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

As I advise clients with regard to their teams, we often end up talking about a particular team member’s emotional intelligence (EI), or lack thereof. You’ve probably experienced someone who is referred to by their colleagues as a “Bull in a China Shop”; and that’s who my clients frequently want to discuss. In looking through more than 200 blog posts, I discovered I’ve never written about EI. I still remember reading Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, in 1995. Although the term emotional intelligence was introduced in the 1960s, it really gained popularity with Goleman’s book. My recollection is that it was truly a WOW idea, but Goleman didn’t provide any practical tools for utilizing the concept. Since then, several consulting firms have created practical, easy-to-use tools that business owners without a psychology degree can implement in their companies.

The book/tool I use with my clients is Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. When you purchase the book, you receive one online assessment code. I suggest to my clients that they first take the assessment and then refer to the book, which is structured a lot like the owner’s manual for your vehicle.

There are four skills that make up emotional intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. The assessment report provides a numerical score from 1 to 100, with a subjective evaluation for each of the four skills, and suggests what you should focus on.

Let’s assume your area for development is Social Awareness. You go to the “owners manual” (the book), and look up Social Awareness. It provides an executive summary of what that means, a list of strategies for improving your social awareness, and a brief write-up on each strategy. I’m currently working with a client who completed the assessment and shared the results with me. The assessment suggested development in one area, so we selected three strategics from the book and the client is now incorporating these suggestions into their daily life.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Over the years, I’ve received developmental feedback telling me that, at times, I can be very intense and direct with my communication style. If you’re my partner, Barbara, or Uncle Dan, you just tell me to “lighten up,” but others may be taken back or offended. So when I’m in a situation where my directness may manifest itself and I’m working with others who may not know me well, I try to be aware, attempt to tone down my natural tendency, and watch people’s reactions — and sometimes I need to apologize or explain my intensity. This strategy seems to be working.

If you’ve never taken an EI assessment, I would strongly recommend that you do. Then, if you have a team member who could use some help, it’s very powerful to share your assessment with them first, and then ask them to complete an assessment and share it with you.

Are You Looking for Career Advice, or Do You Regularly Give Career Advice?

September 9th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If your answer is yes, I would highly recommend reading Strategize to Win by Carla A. Harris, vice chair of Morgan Stanley. I try to be careful not to suggest too many books, but Harris provides some common-sense (or not so common) tips regarding jobs — or, as I like to say, careers. She’s a very good writer (or has a great ghost writer), which makes it a quick, easy read. You can tell she’s a consultant because she also offers some great checklists at the end of each chapter, and poses thoughtful rhetorical questions. Maybe the only caution would be that she’s a Wall Street investment banker, so for some her advice may not be as helpful. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Sadly (to me), she suggests people entering the workforce today should plan six to eight five-year modules at different companies. As a guy who spent 40 years at the same awesome firm, that’s hard to hear — but I understand.
  2. I think that much of Harris’s wisdom would be beneficial, even if you’re in a great place and intend to stay. In my experience, today’s workplace reminds me of a fast-forwarded video. There never seems to be enough time. Customers are more demanding than ever, and technology has sped up the way we receive and share information, but humans are still humans. Harris is very clear that you need to take charge of your own career.
  3. Harris is talking about the workforce (both leaders and associates), but I believe her advice applies to customer/client relationships, as well.
  4. Sorry to bring up introverts again, but Harris’s advice will encourage introverts to step out at times. Harris says she often hears people (probably introverts) erroneously say, “I don’t need to go out of my way to build relationships; I’ll let my work speak for itself.” This observation applies to both your company and your customers/clients.
  5. She also provides her spin on being a leader. According to Harris, a leader should have leverage; be efficient in communicating; be willing to act; be diverse; engage; and be responsible.

When I reflect on my daily conversations with owners and associates, I realize that Harris addresses so many of the common challenges faced today. If she lived closer, I would probably figure out a way to meet her, and would use her as an advisor. She has obviously experienced many different “real life” business situations and has an ability to simplify a lot of facts into some practical, logical action steps.

Let me stick my neck out. If you engage in business (as an owner or associate), I would highly recommend reading this book.

World-class Feedback

June 3rd, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

is what Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, is referring to when she describes how you can “Be a Kick-A__ Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.” If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that, on more than one occasion, I’ve encouraged team leaders to provide their associates with quality feedback. At Plante Moran, where I received great feedback from many different partners and associates (I didn’t say I always liked it), we referred to it as “Candor is Kindness.” Scott had the privilege of working for Apple and Google during their formative years and, per her book, both companies, although they used different styles, were havens for constructive feedback.

Here are two specific examples of quality, actionable feedback that I received. Early in my career, Plante Moran’s founding partner, Frank Moran, encouraged me to work on my grammar. I was a young hotshot, recent college graduate with a high grade point average, and Frank’s comments could have offended me. But he handled the situation in the most delicate way, and I’m forever grateful for his feedback. Another time, my team supervisor and mentor, Ken Kunkel — who provided hundreds of great suggestions — gently told me that I had coffee breath. I give these as simple but very personal examples. When I read Scott’s book, I was reminded of both Frank and Ken.

Based on my observations and experiences with privately owned businesses, I’ve found that many bosses aren’t providing good, actionable feedback to their team members.

If you own a business or are responsible for leading a team of people, I would highly recommend you read Radical Candor. Scott, whose mentor was/is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, offers some great, practical examples and advice regarding feedback and career planning.

I’m going to leave it there and encourage you, after reading the book, to take the risk of giving your team members developmental feedback (stuff you’ve talked to your colleagues about, but have never shared with the specific person). If it would help, I would be happy to role-play a situation with you.


The Advisor’s Corner

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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