May 20, 2019

Leadership Coaching Strategies to Stop Top Talent From Quitting

The Revolving Door of Top TalentDo you ever feel like your hiring process is just like a revolving door?  Top talent in…top talent out!

If so, you are not alone!

During the past ten years of offering leadership coaching and executive coaching services to companies, one of the biggest complaints I hear is about the revolving door of the hiring process.  One of two things usually come up in leadership conversations:

  1. Top talent comes, they stay for about six to nine months and then they leave
  2. The company “settles” for bodies rather than digging to find the top talent they need, so the department or project team now has some drag on their team

What I have found is this:  If employees feel disconnected from their work, bored or if the work is elementary and mind-numbing, employees will leave, regardless of the many tricks you try to lure them into staying.  So, here are a few suggestions to help you with this challenge:

  1.  Match the job to the employees talent and level of capability.  Humans actually want to be challenged.  They want to be stretched.  So, if the job is not challenging or could be done by someone with half of their experience, they may be going through the motions, but their heart and soul are not in the work.  Having said this, if the job is too hard, an employee can get very frustrated and just give up.  Striking the right balance is critical.
  2. Offer leadership coaching.  With leadership coaching, you can help your employees strike that “right” balance between being totally bored and disconnected and being way in over their heads.  By offering weekly leadership coaching to your employees, you can discuss what’s working and what is not, how to challenge them more and when and how to maybe back down just a bit.  This is also a great time to provide training to your employees if they feel they are in over their heads.  They may just need some additional training or a tiny question answered to get back moving again in the right direction
  3. Work on building trust.  It is not uncommon for people to simply not trust a boss, a co-worker or the company.  As a leader, one of your biggest jobs to do every day is to build those strong bonds of trust that employees need to feel safe and secure in the jobs they have been empowered to do.
  4. Talk with your employees about what inspires them and what outcomes they most value.  You may think that money inspires your employees, but in my experiences as a leadership coach, I have found that what matters more than money are the following:

The opportunity to be challenged, succeed and then be recognized for that success

The reward of extra free time to spend with friends and family

The feeling of doing a great, great job and bring proud of a finished product

So, if you are having a tough time keeping employees, start looking at both your hiring process and take the time to sit down (without judgment) and ask your employees why they are leaving.  Ask them what you could have offered that would have made them want to stay, and ask them if they felt the work they were doing was truly meaningful.  You may be surprised at the answers as they come forward.

If you are having any challenges with either hiring or keeping top talent, contact me today so that we can talk a bit about how to turn your specific situation around.

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3 Strategies to Make Sure Your Leadership Coaching Really Works

I will be the first to admit that I am not a guru when it comes to leadership coaching, but I have been around the block a few times. I have been coaching since the year 2,000, and through the school of hard knocks and trial and error, I have finally come to the conclusion that there are 3 strategies that I must use if I want the leaders I coach to be successful. Today, I would like to share those three strategies with you.

1. Design your coaching strategy around what the followers want to see change or improve…not necessarily around what the client thinks she needs. Leadership coaching is so very different from life coaching or coaching a solo business owner for this one reason: The leaders you coach have people who are following them, and as a leader, you must be willing to shift your leadership style, communication style or even the way you walk based on what your followers say they most need and want. Below, I will go into detail about the one month needs assessment, and I just want to caution you about this: Simply because a leader calls you and tells you she wants to work on her time management or organizing her office does not mean this is what her followers want to see. The most successful leaders understand their followers needs and desires and they will do anything to get the majority of their followers’ needs met. As a leader, if your client does not care what the followers think, then she is simply not a leader…enough said!

2. Begin your actual coaching only after one solid month of assessment. Assessing a leader in a company is a great deal like a physician trying to diagnose a patient’s illness. A doctor would never walk in and just start writing prescriptions without asking multiple questions of you (and maybe of your family members) to find out what is really going on. During the first month of leadership coaching, I invest my time conducting a very thorough needs assessment which includes the following:

  • An oral 360 degree feedback review. With my approach, I interview at least 12 people who are around the leader. The list of people I interview include direct reports, bosses, peers and even family members. While I am certified to run the online 360 degree assessments with the Center for Creative Leadership, I have found that by asking 12 simple questions of 12 different people, I get much better responses. I not only hear the answers, but I hear the sighs, the laughs, the “ughs” and I can see eyes rolling, deep thinking and smiles or frowns on faces.
  • The DiSC Assessment. Most leadership coaches have their favorite tools to use. Mine is by far the DiSC assessment. The tool has been used for over 30 years by over 40 million users and is one of the most trusted learning assessments in the personal and professional development industry. With the DiSC, you will quickly learn if the leader you are coaching is a strong-willed, bottom line risk taker or a leader who loves to entertain and motivate others. The communication style of your leader is critical to her approach with her followers, and this tool will help you bring out the best in your clients.
  • The Strengths Finder Profile. I truly believe that using a leader’s key strengths to help shore up weaknesses is one of the best ways to approach your clients. It is critical to know upfront what your leader’s strong suits are, and this assessment can help you refine your coaching and hone in on those strengths from the first coaching session to the end of the coaching engagement.
  • A two hour relaxed “get to know you” meeting with your new client. I always invest at least two hours in the early stages of the needs assessment with my new clients to find out what makes them tick and what ticks them off. I want to know about the music they listen to, their favorite foods and colors and a bit about their personal life. This relaxed conversation builds trust and also helps fill in some of the gaps that will more than likely be missing with the formal assessments.

3. Once you have completed the needs assessment, pick one goal ONLY to work with your client on for at least six months. I have observed coaches who pile goals on top of goals on top of more goals and “things to do”. This is a big mistake (in my opinion). I have learned that when coaching a leader, we have to agree to work on the one leadership skill that needs the most work, and work a system so that improvement starts to happen as quickly as possible. Improvement in one area will often help in other areas of leadership, so I just want to encourage you to keep hammering home points around that one critical skill that needs work. Doing a little bit of work on a long list of leadership skills will get your client to move an inch. Working on one goal and seeing a leadership skill turn 180 degrees is much easier for your client to swallow and others will notice improvement quickly if you are really targeting one area that is of greatest concern for the people who are trying to follow the leader.

If you or someone you know is interested in discussing leadership coaching, please feel free to contact me, Bea Fields, at 910-692-6118. I am happy to spend some time discussing your leadership needs.

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Leadership Coaching: How to Know When Your Client is Stuck and How to Get Them Unstuck

picture of woman who is stuck

Is Your Executive Coaching Client Stuck? Maybe It's Time for Some Radical and BOLD Coaching!

Over the past ten years, I have provided leadership coaching services for a large number of clients…I think over 1200 at this point.  I say this not to brag, but to give some credibility to this post.  Because of the number of clients I have coached, I can smell it a mile away when a client is stuck.  I can usually tell in the first interview when a client is truly stuck in an old pattern and not willing to work on, let achieve a big/audacious goal.

So, here are a few of the signs and approaches you can use to help “unstick” your leadership coaching clients:

Sign: The client comes in with a BIG goal that they have been trying to achieve for over three years with no movement.  This is often common if a client is in a corporate structure that dictates what they can and cannot do, so you have to do a bit of digging on the cultural side of things.  But…at the end of the day, if a client has been going through a revolving door for over three years and have not yet hit the mark…they are stuck.  I am being generous here…the stuck time frame is really more like one year, but I am giving some time knowing how the world works.

Coaching Strategy: Step up the goal/Play a bigger game.  The majority of the clients who seem stuck are just plain bored.  They don’t have a big enough game to play, so you have to bump up the game and make it meaningful.  It may be something as simple as challenging/directing the client to take on a brand new activity like improv or public speaking or coaching their teams using a new, fresh approach.  At the end of the day, if a client is stuck, and if they are bored, doing the same day in and day out routine will not result in action.  It just results in stagnation.  A brand new, challenging activity can often spill over into other life areas and build confidence around big game/big goal setting.

Sign: You and the client set a BIG goal, and you always seem to get off topic.  In the world of leadership coaching, we often describe this as the client pulling you down a rabbit hole or YOU are chasing the client down a rabbit hole, because you just really don’t know what to do.

Coaching Strategy: Reel the client back into the original goal.  Say something like this “You know, the initial goal was for you to bring in more networking partners for the company, and we are suddenly talking about your boss and his problems.   I can only coach you.   Let’s get back to the goal of bringing in more networking partners, and if your boss fits into this, we will address this sooner rather than later.  What is your next step, and how will I know you actually did it?”

Sign: The client starts dictating to you how the coaching sessions need to “go”.  I have seen this a FEW times.  The client comes in and says “Here is what I want to talk about today, and I really need to say a few things.”  I just don’t agree that the client always needs to dictate the coaching conversation.   To me, this is a big red flag that the client feels like he/she is being challenged, and they want to work on “something else that is more comfortable.”

Coaching Strategy: Shift!  If the client said in the initial interview that he/she wanted to build up a larger networking strategy, and then suddenly wants to switch to talking about their daughter’s overuse of text messaging or her husband’s financial problems, it is very appropriate to ask “How does this relate to the original goal of increasing networking partners in your company.”  If there is a legitimate reason, then go there.  If not, SHIFT the conversation or say “We are going to STOP this conversation…it has nothing to do with the original goal.”  If the client cannot demonstrate a clear connection to their personal challenges and the original goal, he/she is simply trying to get you off topic to avoid having to take on a big step.  This is the time to stop the conversation and go back to the original goal.

Sign: The client begins criticizing your coaching by saying things like “I don’t get that we are connecting or you don’t seem to get my issue.”

Coaching Strategy: Get bold…be upfront!   It may be true….that you and the client are not connecting and you are not getting it.  What I have found more often that not is that you are not “getting” that the client wants to take you way off into never-never land so that you can avoid the topic at hand.  If this is the case, you owe your client an obligation:  to be upfront.  You have to say something like this “I respect that you perceive we are not connecting.  May I offer up to you a few perceptions of my own?  You seem to switch subjects a great deal, I feel like I am being pulled into a rabbit hole and I am perceiving that you want to avoid taking on the big action steps I am asking of you.  So, here’s the deal…you hired me to help you expand your networking efforts, and we are now talking about your daughter’s excessive text messaging and your husband’s financial issues.  I still don’t clearly understand what this has to do with your original goal, so we have two options:  We can either end the coaching relationship or get back to the original goal you SAID you wanted to achieve.”

Sign: The client begins canceling coaching calls or is late for coaching calls.

Coaching Strategy: Ask the client this question “Where in your business or personal life are you canceling commitments or showing up late?”  This may be a sign to you that the client does not want to be confronted about not doing field work or not following through in other life areas.  Again…they are just stuck!

In closing…I don’t give up on clients.  I will try every strategy possible to get them to shift:  Interrupting them, calling them on their stuff, making a bold statement that they “did not do what was asked” or putting the coaching “on hold” until the client is really ready to move forward.  There will be times with clients when you simply have to end the coaching agreement (firing the client).  The client is not going to move into action, they just are not ready or they have not bought into coaching as a tool for growth.  As I say this, I encourage you to be as bold as possible for the well being of your clients.  We are not here to say what clients “want to hear”.  As coaches, we are here to ask tough questions and say what our clients “need to hear” in order to be the best they can be in their leadership roles.

Would so welcome your comments below.

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Leadership Coaching Question of the Week: Are You Truly Leading or Just Trying to Look Busy?

In the world of leadership coaching (often known as executive coaching), it is quite interesting to watch top decision makers in today’s world.  Many of our “busy leaders”  have a tendency to go on and on  about all that they are doing…running here and there, putting out fires and living in reaction mode.  As an executive coach, when I dig deeper, I often find out that what they are really spinning around about are the tiny details which truly should be reserved for someone on his team.  During a coaching session, when I ask leaders how they spend their day, here are some of the most common “distractions” I hear about.

1.  Checking email 8-10 times per day.  The mother of all leadership sins!

Solution: Check email once in the morning at 9:00 a.m. (your time zone) and again at 4:30 p.m.  If you are concerned about missing someone, simply enter an auto-responder into your email program which says “Thank you for your email.  I usually check email at 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  If this is an emergency, you may call me at 555-555-5555 (put your telephone number in the blank).

2.  Writing other people about typos on an email,  website, a document or about subjects that are really not urgent.

Is this really your job, and did someone ask you to proofread their materials?  Probably not.  This job is usually reserved for a proofreader or an assistant in the marketing department.  As someone who types really fast, I do my best to double check my typos and my mistakes, but I don’t invest hours each day on proofreading.  If I want something proofread, I send it to someone at Roundtable Companies.  I don’t comb every blog post, because it squelches my creativity, and I am someone who does send out typos (not on purpose) on occasion by email.  If I make a mistake, I do my best to apologize for the inconvenience and correct my mistake.  As a leader, if part of your job is to notify people about their typos, then go for it.  But, I have found more often than not that this is never the job of a CEO.  This is usually a job handled by the marketing or PR arm of the company.  As a CEO, it is not your job to be the “internet police” and invest the majority of your day telling people that they have a typo on a page on their website or in an email.

3. Watching Hulu.com, You Tube, spending hours on Facebook or getting distracted by an article that leads you to another article and then to another article.

This revolving door can honestly suck hours out of your day…sending jokes to your friends, watching videos online, reading blogs and articles that have nothing to do with your business or getting on video chat with friends.  Set aside 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon to peruse two websites which are relevant to your business or target market.  The week-ends can be reserved for looking at funny dog and cat pictures and videos on You Tube or .for video chat with friends and family.

Are Your Constant Meetings Sending Your Company To An Early Death?

4.  Calling meetings on a daily basis that last for 1-3 hours.

I don’t want to say much about this other than this:  Read the book Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.

5. Fixing broken technology.

I am just amazed at how many business owners and CEOs (who know very little about technology) who try to fix old, worn out, broken computers, servers and back up systems.  Hey…here’s a novel thought…maybe it’s time to regroup and replace your technology with state of the art systems.  If your computer is sluggish or if your phone continues to rattle with static, it’s time for an upgrade.  If your technological devices are not working, you may be investing precious hours fixing broken equipment that is only going to break again.  And…by all means, add an IT person to your team or outsource this job to someone who can fix your tech problems in a snap!

As a business owner, your job is to not only work in the business but on the business (famous quote by Michael Gerber).  Working on the business does not include fixing your broken 1990 computer.  For a true business owner or leader, working on the business includes (but is not limited to) the following (these are not in order of importance.  These are in alphabetical order).  It is up to you to decide what is most important and to rank these according to importance for your company:

  • Addressing tough conversations (and not avoiding them)
  • Addressing your own self development (it does not matter how high up you are in your organization or how powerful you think you might be…we all need to grow if we want to stay competitive in today’s world)
  • Being a masterful coach
  • Being a positive role model and ambassador for your company
  • Being the first to bridge the gap across generations in your company
  • Decision making when the decision moves to the top
  • Delegating to others
  • Developing boss/team/employee relationships
  • Developing command and public speaking skills
  • Driving innovation
  • Improving efficiency and time management
  • Inspiring teams and people
  • Listening without interrupting
  • Managing resources wisely
  • Meeting with Centers of Influence
  • Stepping up and standing for the use of state of the art technology and then delegating the use of technology to your Director of Information Technology
  • Strategic planning
  • Strengthening your communication skills so that everyone in your company is “on board” and know exactly what to do
  • Thinking time to clear out the junk and the cobwebs
  • Upholding the values and ethics of the company
  • Visioning
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Temple Grandin Video: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Coaching Employees: 5 Coaching Power Words

Want to learn more about what coaching really is and 5 powerful words to get employees to grow and develop?  Watch this quick video from the Center for Management and Organizational Effectiveness.

Video Rating: 4 / 5

Coaching Questions – Management Leadership Training

COACHING QUESTIONS Training Video from New Market Learning: Employee coaching is a large and complex subject. But at its heart lies effective questioning skills. This program by New Market Learning provides  your managers with practical illustrations of how to use questions to help people think through a problem or a task for themselves. If it is a managers intention to coach the other person, the type of questions they use will be different from those questions designed simply to elicit information.  And, when it comes to coaching, questions can be much more powerful than giving advice.

This scenario below is quite common, so for any of you who are interested in a few support videos to add to your training presentations, these look like they could stimulate some great conversation with your clients. Visit

Video Rating: 5 / 5

In a Challenging Business Environment, Managers Seeking to Fulfill Their Potential Turn to Leadership Coaching

In a Challenging Business Environment, Managers Seeking to Fulfill Their Potential Turn to Leadership Coaching
Launch of VARUNE Project Leadership’s intensive 16-week coaching program offers a new way for junior and mid-level managers to fast-track their careers.
Read more on PRWeb via Yahoo! News

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