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Coaching - It's Not BAU
By James A. DeSena, CSP

If you have people working for you, one of the most important and overlooked opportunities you have is to coach your people. I challenge managers that once they have given someone an assignment or set a goal with that person as a supervisor, they should ask, as a coach, "If that's the goal, how will we make sure that you have the best possibility of achieving the goal?" 

Too many times in business situations, the person is left to his or her own devices to succeed. It's called sink or swim. One executive vice president at a well known insurance company, summing up the results of a sales program we had just completed for him, said, "We've had a simple way of testing our salespeople. We'd hire you and throw you in the water. A month later if you were still swimming, we'd throw you an anchor. A month later if you're still swimming, we know you're a survivor. Unfortunately, we didn't know how well you could sell."

Many organizations operate under what I call "Business as Usual (BAU)." What I mean by that is that these organizations don't coach their people to be successful. So when the employee or manager fails, it's just an everyday occurrence. When there are mistakes, turnover and productivity slips, no one realizes that these areas could be improved because they have historically experienced certain levels of these problems. These companies would hardly knowingly tolerate this level of failure in their production systems that they do in the failure of their human systems.

After completing a coaching seminar, one of the executives said to me, "Jim, after hearing what you are recommending about coaching, I realize that most organizations don't do this." His implication was, why should we. My response was, "Which model do you think you should follow?" Ask yourself what the potential differences could be if your employees had the knowledge, skills and communication that it would take to be successful up front. How much more confident would they feel? How much more competent would they be? How much time would this save you as a manager? What positive benefits would it have for you customers? 

Some people say, "This sounds great, but where am I going to find the time to do this on top of everything else I am expected to do?" It is a relevant question. The short answer is, to quote a well-known phrase, "You can either pay me now or pay me later." If I don't invest the time to coach, I am going to spend more time correcting problems, disciplining and looking for new employees. And typically, it takes twice as much time to correct a problem as it would have taken to avoid it in the first place. And the damage to your creditability as a manager can be worse than the damage to the employee. Invest the time to coach and you will reap a return in commitment, productivity and quality. That's the bottom line.      
                                                 
(c)2000 Performance Achievement Systems, Inc.   Jim DeSena can help your leadership team develop a laser-like focus on sales growth. Call 800-4321-WIN for a free consultation.   www.salesleaders.com                           ExpertMagazine.com 2001

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