A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Reviewer, calm thyself
Throughout our coaching, Teri had been asking for help managing Ken. She experienced him as defensive and emotional. Now she had to deliver his year-end review—an event she found awkward even with the easiest of her direct reports.
Teri showed me the draft she’d written for Ken’s review. There were two sections. The first section asked the boss and the employee for a ranking (Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, etc.) on six competencies. The second section asked for written comments from the boss and employee on “Strengths” and “Areas for Development.” More
Team members out of sync
Arturo had been leading 40 risk management professionals for about a year when he asked if I would meet with him privately. I’d been coaching one of his direct reports for five months and assumed we were going to discuss the coaching. I was wrong.
“I’ve been saying I want our group to be ‘world class’ since the day I got here, but my direct reports are all over the map. And a lot of their people are still doing what they were doing when Melanie was leading the group,” he said, referring to his predecessor. “I feel like I can’t get this group moving in the same direction.” More
Resistance is the norm
Soraya leads a team of programmers who work at client sites for weeks at a time. When her vice-president asked for feedback from the clients, she had only a few anecdotes. He wanted hard data.
Soraya and her team decided to create focus groups. The goal would be to bring clients together and get them to talk openly about their experiences.
When all the major clients agreed to attend, she was delighted. Then her heart sank when she realized that no one on her team—including herself!—had a clue how to get people to talk openly with other people present, especially when there might be some negative feedback. More
Two smiles, two outcomes
Gabriella often says she has the best job in the whole company—and she’s quick to add that hers is a global company of more than twenty thousand people! She talks about lives changed because of the work she gets to do. She talks about the great performance of her team. She talks about attending international conferences with world leaders where she promotes her group’s unique innovation.
Amazingly, she never sounds like she’s bragging. Quite the contrary. She wins over virtually everyone she talks with because while she tells her story, she smiles in a way that is authentic and completely unforced. More
An all-hands rebellion
Marta’s coaching had been over for almost a year when she called me with a bit of panic in her voice. “I’ve got a full-blown rebellion on my hands, Tom,” she told me.
The day before, at an all-hands meeting, she had announced a re-structuring of three of her groups. She’d expected some resistance but what she got was anger and shouting. She’d lost control of the room and people had left in a fury.
“We had a communications strategy, Tom,” she said a bit defensively. “We all thought announcing the new structure in a meeting was the way to go. I don’t know what went wrong.” More
Two teams at war
Halfway through Jean-Claude’s coaching engagement, I was on the phone with his boss, Cary. My intention was to give him a brief update on the coaching. Much to my surprise, I heard Cary thanking me for helping Jean-Claude resolve the long-standing antagonism between the data management group that Jean-Claude led and the accounting group.
“The rift between those groups started long before Jean-Claude got here,” Cary said. “I never imagined this would be one of the outcomes of the coaching.” More
The mixed blessing of PowerPoint
Toward the middle of our coaching engagement, Adrienne earned the rare opportunity to present her group’s achievements to the CEO’s staff meeting. She was understandably nervous and wanted my help polishing her style.
I brought my video feedback gear to our session but we didn’t end up using it; the moment she showed me her slides I felt we had more important work to do.
PowerPoint is just a piece of software; intrinsically it is neither good nor bad. But too often it blurs, rather than clarifies, our messages and prompts behaviors we would never otherwise display. More
A powerful model for intimacy
Evan felt lucky to have had Trish as his mentor. “I’ve never seen anyone build relationships as fast as she can,” he told me. “She can read a room in the first minute or two and then say just the right thing to turn people into raving fans. It’s uncanny.”
Evan had been studying with a master, but now Trish was moving on to run an international division. As one of her final acts, she asked me to help Evan develop better people skills. More
“Play Better Poker”
Darcie was in line to become the CFO’s heir apparent. Only one thing stood in the way of her promotion: she couldn’t contain herself when people said something she perceived as “stupid.” Her eye rolls and little snorts of derision were so well known, department members had taken to saying they’d “gotten a Darcie” whenever she—or anyone else!—blew off one of their ideas.
When she asked if I could help, I told her I thought I could. “Do you want to know the secret?” I asked. She assured me she did. More
Stories soar when you follow two rules
Varena keeps more detailed information in her head on a daily basis than I can cram into my brain in a year. And she cites it with precision but without pretention. She’s also smart enough to know that all those facts don’t motivate people.
Discussing her upcoming off-site, she told me about a new initiative she was going to roll out. “I’ve got lots of business reasons why this is a good idea, but I need something more.” She stopped and smiled at me. We both knew where she was headed; we’d talked about it before. “All right already, Tom, I need a story and you know I can’t tell one.” More
Donald had the CEO courting him for almost a year before he came on board as head of global operations. Fourteen months later, most of his initiatives had stalled and the executive team that had expected so much from him had mostly turned against him.
One comment from a group leader in Hong Kong epitomized Donald’s feedback: “When Donald was here on his ‘world-wide listening tour,’ we were the only ones doing any listening.” More
A grave mismatch of styles
Marlena, an experienced entertainment executive, was definitely not getting the results she wanted. She’d been put in charge of a talented group of animators, but, although she was personable and energetic, she couldn’t seem to build relationships with them. They weren’t merely avoiding her, they were going around her to her boss and complaining about her loudly.
The situation crystallized for me one day on our way to a conference room. Walking toward us was a bearded man wearing a beret and a scarf. He had the slightly awkward gait and downward gaze of the powerfully introverted. More