The Coach's Corner

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.

Do You Know Your Calling?

June 22nd, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Many of you know that my most common response to the greeting “How are you doing?” is “Living the dream!” There are several reasons I feel that way, but one would be that I’m living out my “calling.” Some people might think that’s a religious term, but to me it’s the best way to describe operating in the space you were designed for. Sadly, it has taken me decades to really understand this concept.

When I completed Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment, it labeled me as a “Performance Coach” and offered the following words to describe what that means:

“People who come to you for advice will not only get forthright, practical guidance, they will also get a system to track their progress. You love to keep score. And while this logical, disciplined approach creates security and certainty with others, you temper it with a heartfelt belief in them and what they can achieve. Your goal is to create self-reliance in others. You don’t want them to have to keep coming to you. And then you stand proudly on the sidelines and watch them deliver.”

If you’re a regular reader, you know I prefer the word “advisor” over “coach.” I explained my reasons for that preference in my July 2016 post. That being said, I’ll accept being a “performance coach.”

So I guess my “what” or “why” is advising/coaching, and my “where” is business — and in recent years, I’ve realized how much I love this role. As a former athlete, I assume I enjoy the competitiveness of business and, as Buckingham would say, “I love to keep score.”

Back to “Living the dream.” Advising my clients isn’t work; it’s who I am. One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly, would say that when I’m advising, I’m the “best version of myself.”

In addition to working with my clients, I mentor both a young man who lives at a children’s home and a felon who’s spent most of his life in prison. A few weeks ago I was talking to a longtime friend who asked about the mentoring. During our conversation, he said, “Well, that makes total sense.” To which I said, “What?” He replied, “You’re coaching.”

Now you know a little more about me — but how about you? Do you know your unique calling?

Discover what it is, engage, and join me in “Living the dream!”

COVID-19 Contingency Ideas

April 6th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I promised I would share COVID-19 survival tips I received from subscribers. One of my observations from this crisis is that, unlike the Great Recession, some companies are thriving (i.e., those that provide essential services), while others are closed (i.e., no revenue). So although the following suggestions may or may not apply to your business, I hope you get at least one or two good thoughts.

The authors haven’t been identified, but their ideas are verbatim (i.e., in other words, I pretty much left what you sent to me intact.) As it turns out, the list includes cost-reduction ideas plus many other items to consider during these unusual times.

  1. Two items came up immediately from a professional services standpoint. One can have a long-term cost benefit and the other pertains to staff development. The first is the forced efficiencies of Zoom meetings! While clunky in the first stages, as those who work from home adjust, we’re seeing quick improvements. Another idea is the power of delegation. When things need to happen fast, allowing colleagues to step up and take ownership with the proper amount of authority is providing huge personal growth and allowing leaders to continue to lead.
  2. Remote work presents unique obstacles for teams and projects. For some helpful tools, go to Project Manager.com and check out Coronavirus: Work From Home Software & Tips.
  3. This may be the time to deal with underperformers.
  4. As your team works remotely, identify normal recurring expenses that could be reduced, like office space.
  5. Can you or should you draw down on your line of credit, like Ford and GM have?
  6. Consider reducing or canceling noncritical outside services and have your employees perform them.
  7. Renegotiate communications services (i.e. phone and internet).
  8. Consider a temporary layoff of salaried staff, including engineers (for two to three weeks).
  9. Reduce the workweek to 32 hours, with a 20 percent reduction in salaries
  10. Eliminate 401k matches.
  11. Renegotiate building leases before they expire.
  12. Terminate leases of unused or partially used facilities.
  13. Consolidate the use of facilities.
  14. Negotiate to stop monthly lease payments on hi-lo equipment or other rental equipment that’s not being used until it’s needed again (i.e., pay when you use it).
  15. Conduct virtual happy hours with your team to save travel time and costs.
  16. Reduce compensation now and repay when the crisis is over.
  17. Is this the time to do a reset? Make some long-overdue changes.
  18. Institute face-to-face meetings via the computer and Zoom.com.  This was an application we had used in the past, but it has quickly become a daily part of our world.
  19. We reviewed our current client base and the receivables for each. We went through and “rated” clients based on our knowledge as to which would continue/shut down due to the crisis, or which might cut back services or increase services.  We also discussed and set credit limits for each client.
  20. We instituted a significant increase in our rates for new work.
  21. This week we added the caveat that all new work must pay one week in advance, and we’ll continue that practice moving forward.  We have become very selective with new work, for fears of getting the necessary manpower.
  22. This crisis will someday end and we need to make sure we come out on the other side with positive feelings from our current clients.
  23. We looked at all our support positions and have put “check points” in place to stay proactive with layoffs.  At this point we haven’t laid anyone off, but we will continue to monitor.
  24. We moved/converted our hiring and employee orientation during this crisis, to be done online.  Interviews are conducted via an HR software package and orientations are completed via Zoom and other media.
  25. We implemented an attestation questionnaire for entrance to our offices, and are currently taking the temperatures of all employees and visitors prior to entering the secured area of the building.
  26. We’re sending weekly memos to our staff and frontline folks expressing our gratitude for their efforts, along with reiterating CDC standards for controlling the virus. We have also communicated regularly with our clients and kept them informed of our status.
  27. At this point, we have continued to pay our bills as normal; however, that appears to be against the grain. (Editorial comment: I have spoken to this issue before. Being appropriately good to your suppliers pays huge dividends in the long run.)
  28. Being a Michigan resident, the original feel to this was like hunkering down for a blizzard.  The thought was we would all be locked in for a few days, the storm would pass, and we would return to business as usual.  Well, that will not be the case.  This “blizzard” is more like an early return to winter.  We’ll have a whole season ahead of us with many adjustments before we get back to “normal.”
  29. Apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan/grant.
  30. Apply for other loans related to the virus.
  31. Maximize unemployment benefits.
  32. From an insurance standpoint this is a good time to review sales and payroll projections and ask your agent to lower to match projections. Put unused vehicles in storage (comprehensive coverage only) and if you need help with premiums contact your agent, as many carriers will work with you to avoid cancellation and defer payments.

I’m not sure whether I’ll republish the list, but if you have some ideas that aren’t on the list above, please hit “Reply” and send them to me.

COVID-19 Contingency Planning

March 23rd, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Who knows how long this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to last. As I mentioned in my last post, at a recent meeting of businesses owners the estimates ranged from four weeks to three months, but it could go on even longer. With that in mind, I’m recommending that you develop a contingency plan with markers at different points, and create a list of actions for both your business and personal finances. I would suggest reviewing your plans on the following dates: Immediately; April 1; May 1; June 1; and July 1. I’d also suggest that you think about what drastic measures you’ll need to take if this pandemic goes on beyond July.

The economy has been growing since mid-2009, when the Great Recession technically ended, and it’s now the longest expansion on record. We’ve had it pretty good for more than a decade. As I was reflecting, I thought of the following story, which I previously shared in my March 2, 2012, post:

During one of the recessions prior to 2008-2009, I was meeting with a business owner who said to me, “You know, now is when I make most of my money” — and then he smiled at me. He went on to say, “The key decisions made during an economic downturn are what really drive my profitability post-recession … we get sloppy during the good times.” His closing comments reminded me of Seneca, who, in 65 B.C., said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Laying the groundwork for success takes place during bad times.

I’m not saying you got sloppy, but I’d be willing to bet that many of you have added costs over the past decade. Now, as the tide goes out and the rocks (or additional costs) become exposed, it’s a great time to execute some course corrections. Here’s another idea I’ve been thinking about: Since many of us are working remotely from our homes, are there expenses we can do without in the future, and not hurt the customer or our team?

Being a risk-taker, I’m going to volunteer to collect nonproprietary cost-reduction suggestions you and your team have identified — big and small alike. I’ll compile the ideas I receive from my 350 subscribers, and then post a blog (the source of anything I post will remain anonymous). Even if you have ideas you’re not going to implement, I’d like to see them.

All you have to do is hit “Reply” to the blog email notification and send me your ideas.

Assuming I receive any suggestions, I’ll periodically (i.e. weekly) share the COVID-19 Contingency Plan Cost Reduction list with all of you.

As one of my partners used to say, no idea is too small or insignificant — so please hit “Reply” and share what’s on your mind.

News Flash: COVID-19

March 19th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

As it relates to COVID-19, for months I had a conspiracy theory going on inside my head, and I finally realized I was in denial. I still may be right about the conspiracy theory, but either way, we have a global crisis.

So, I’ll keep this simple.

  1. If you are like I was, get over it and face reality.
  2. Who knows how long this is going to last? On March 19, my business networking group thought it would last four weeks to three months longer. To be conservative, let’s assume it will be six months, or until the end of 2020.
  3. Develop a contingency plan for your business and your personal finances for 2020, assuming it lasts all year.
  4. Execute on your plan!

Based on my observations during the Great Recession, the companies that reacted the quickest were hurt the least, and some of those that waited didn’t make it.

I have a question for you: So far, how does this crisis feel compared to the Great Recession?

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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