The Coach's Corner

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

Buckingham’s 8 Questions

December 11th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Those of you who personally know me or have been reading my blogs are aware that I have highly recommended using the 12 questions found in the book  First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham. This summer, I heard Buckingham speak, and discovered he has pared his 12 questions down to eight (fewer is always better).

During his presentation, he explained that some of the original 12 questions were focused on the company, while others pertained to the team member. He went on to say that the best employers encourage their team leaders to really understand their team members’ point of view.  In reviewing and reorganizing his original 12 questions, Buckingham classified half of the questions (four) as company-focused; the other half address the individual team member. Then, he paired up the questions and categorized them: Purpose, Excellence, Support, and Future.

View the Buckingham 8 Questions Chart.

As with the 12 questions, I would highly encourage leaders/supervisors to use the Buckingham 8 Questions as a tool for career planning sessions (annual reviews) and/or as a gut check to make sure you’re thinking about questions from your team members’ point of view.

I Didn’t Think Linda Could Do It, But She Fooled Me

November 27th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Years ago I was meeting with a longtime client who was also a business owner. He informed me that one of his key executives was planning to leave and asked if I thought her assistant, Linda, could handle the job. Without thinking much about it, I said, “I don’t think so,” to which he said, “I agree.” Some time went by and, based on a number of factors, he decided to give Linda a chance.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about the executive who was leaving. I believe most people would have given her relatively high marks, because her department functioned well. She had a very strong personality and, in retrospect, she probably was overly controlling without causing any obvious issues.

You’re probably ahead of me at this point. It turned out Linda was very successful, and I believe my client and I both would agree she outperformed her predecessor.

So, what’s the point? After that experience, whenever a similar situation arose I would attempt to determine whether the No. 2 individual was being held back and hiding their real skills and talents, just to get along with their boss.

How many Lindas get passed by? Do you have any Lindas in your organization that you may be overlooking or underutilizing?

As you know, leaders are hard to come by. Do you have a true leader who’s hidden in your midst?

Man’s Search for Meaning

October 16th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

No, “Man’s Search for Meaning” isn’t the title of a current New York Times bestseller; it’s something that was originally published in 1946 in German. I’m guessing some of you have read it, maybe for a college psych class. I finally read the timeless book, which was written by Viktor Frankl, and I admit it was a hard read — but it was well worth the time and effort, for many reasons. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist born in 1905, was a Auschwitz concentration camp survivor.

In the beginning of the book, Frankl states that he didn’t intend for this to be another history book about the concentration camps, although he does provide some chilling personal stories. Instead, he wanted to share his professional conclusion that man’s primary motivation in life is to find “meaning.” He quotes Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, as concluding “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” He also quotes a Johns Hopkins University survey, where students were asked what they considered “very important” to them. Seventy-eight percent responded, “Finding a purpose and meaning to life.” (Although it may sound like I’m quoting Daniel Pink, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins, or Patrick Lencione, I really am talking about a holocaust survivor.)

Owners and senior executives, I’m asking you to think about what Frankl is saying. Then, realize he had no idea that, more than 50 years later, millennials would come along. I’ve commented on the topics of purpose, your why, and your mission several times, including in my January 11, 2016, blog. You probably started your business with a passion for something. What is it? Do your team members know, and are they as excited as you? You may say what you do is pretty plain vanilla, but I don’t accept that. In my October 14, 2013, blog, I commented on how Frank Moran created an accounting firm using the metaphor of the Mayo Clinic for businesses and to this day, it still inspires hundreds of professionals.

When I tour manufacturing facilities I always ask a few operators where the part they’re making goes. To my shock, most don’t know. To them, it’s just a metal or plastic fastener.

Owners, please figure out a way to inspire your team members. They could easily work somewhere else and probably make similar money. You have an opportunity to appeal to their need for meaning in life. Don’t miss it. It won’t cost much, but it could make your company an even better place to work.

p.s. Actually, I’ll make you an offer. Contact me and, at no charge, I’ll help you communicate your “meaning” to your team.



Surveys Help Teams Improve Performance

August 21st, 2017 // Barbara Doescher //

In the March-April 2017 Harvard Business Review, there’s an article entitled “Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians,” which describes the tool Deloitte designed to improve team performance. Because of my client-focused advising, where I frequently use the Leading From Your Strengths tool, I was especially interested in their research, findings and approach.

Deloitte’s clients told them they weren’t getting the performance they needed from their teams. Their conclusion (and mine) was that too many leaders fail to effectively tap the diverse work styles and perspectives of their team members, and don’t recognize there truly are profound differences between how people work.

Deloitte’s tool, like Leading From Your Strengths, provides examples of behavioral styles:

  • Pioneers seek possibilities, and they spark energy and imagination.
  • Drivers seek challenge, and they generate momentum.
  • Guardians value stability, and they bring order and rigor.
  • Integrators value connection and draw teams together.

These four styles give teams a common language for understanding how people work. When I use the Leading From Your Strengths method with my clients, it, too, provides a common language for their teams.

My goal, like Deloitte’s, is to help business executives realize that different styles can contribute to the success of a business — and generally, you need to have representatives from each category.

If you want your team to work better together, consider getting help from Deloitte, Doescher Advisors or another firm that provides this type of assistance. I guarantee it will improve your profitability, and your workplace will become an environment where team members thrive because they are given the chance to achieve their fullest potential.

You Can’t Put a Square Peg in a Round Hole. It’s All About “Fit”

July 24th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Years ago, Barbara and I were leading a mission trip to Ecuador. One of our 20 team members, “Charlie,” was quite challenging to our leadership team. He often showed up late and missed several required preparation meetings, he struggled to get paperwork completed on time, he talked too much at our tightly scheduled meetings, he frequently offered unasked-for comments suggesting we do this or that differently, and the list went on. I think you get the picture.

The general policy with mission teams was that the leaders had the right to excuse someone from the trip if they believed that individual would be a detriment to the team. In the case of the Ecuador trip, we would be traveling through a number of airports to a developing country where the government was unstable. We needed team members who responded to us.

A week before our departure, the leadership team expressed their concerns and said they thought it would be best to leave Charlie in Detroit. For reasons I cannot even explain today, I disagreed and assured the team that I could manage him, and the situation fell into my lap. (Let me tell you, working with Charlie really honed my leadership skills.)

During our trip planning and preparation process, Barbara had offered to administer the Learning From Your Strengths assessment to any team members who wished to complete it. Charlie volunteered to participate in the assessment. One evening in Ecuador, Charlie came to me with his LFYS profile and asked if we could talk. Several hours later, after he had shared his life story, including telling me that he had worked at many different financial services firms, I said to him, “I am at least an average leader, and you’re unable to follow me. After hearing your story, getting to know you over the past six months, and looking at your assessment, it’s evident that you need to be in charge. I strongly recommend you start your own financial services firm.”

When we returned home, he did just that — and over the next several years, I heard from multiple sources that his firm had become very successful.

Why am I telling you this story? If you’re a business owner or CEO, it’s part of your job to make sure people “fit.” In my March 7, 2016, blog post, I spoke about the importance of “attitude”; now I’m adding “fit.”

Charlie was obviously talented, but all his life he had been a square peg in a round hole. Do you have any square pegs in your company?

p.s. Charlie was a very well-meaning and talented guy. He painted a beautiful mural on the back wall of the Ecuadorian church we were constructing and, privately, he gave a very generous financial gift to the church.

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.