The Value of Executive Development Mentoring and Coaching

Executive development coaching is still relatively new in the Czech Republic. A number of managers seem reluctant to use development coaching as a tool to improve individual performance and productivity and some even look slightly embarrassed to even consider it. This is possibly because they are reluctant to admit that they need help with anything, or that by admitting it, they will lower their perception in the eyes of their colleagues. Some consider it to be a waste of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Personal development should be a life-long goal of every professional. In countries where development coaching is more widely accepted and utilised, the benefits to both the individual and their company can be spectacular. To give you some idea of what can be achieved, here is an overview of some industry statistics of the value and ROI executive development coaching offers.

  • A recent study of Executive Coaching in a Fortune 500 firm by MetrixGlobal reported a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.
  • A survey by Manchester Inc. of 100 executives found that coaching provided an average return on investment of almost six times the cost of the coaching.
  • A Hay Group study of Fortune 500 companies found that 21 to 40% utilize Executive Coaching; Coaching was used as standard leadership development for elite executives and talented up-and-comers.
  • In one study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC, companies including Booz Allen Hamilton received an average return of $7.90 for every $1 invested in executive coaching.
  • An internal report of the Personnel Management Association showed that when training is combined with coaching, individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% compared to 22% with training alone.
  • A 2001 study on the impact of executive coaching by Manchester Inc. showed an average ROI of 5.7 times the initial investment or a return of more than $100,000, according to executives who estimated the monetary value of the results achieved through coaching*.

Among the benefits to executives who received coaching were improved:

  • Working relationships with direct reports (reported by 77% of executives)
  • Working relationships with immediate supervisors (71%)
  • Teamwork (67%)
  • Working relationships with peers (63%)
  • Job satisfaction (61%)
  • Conflict reduction (52%)
  • Organizational commitment (44%)
  • Working relationships with clients (37%)

*The respondents were executives from large (mostly FORTUNE 1,000) companies who had participated in either "change oriented" coaching, aimed at improving certain behaviours or skills, or "growth oriented" coaching, designed to sharpen overall job performance. The programs lasted from six months upwards. About 60% of the executives were ages 40-49, a prime age bracket for career retooling. Half of the respondents held positions of vice president or higher and a third earned $200,000 or more per year.

Top Ten Faults in Leadership and Interpersonal Behavior

There are certain common behaviors that seem to cause the most resentment and lead to the biggest loss of motivation within the staff. These behaviors lead to a workplace where people will do their jobs, but not really put their hearts into it. They can also lead to the best people leaving. Very often this is compounded by the retention of low performing staff who accept any situation just to keep their jobs. The net result can be a drop in productivity, loss of motivation, increase in absenteeism or time off work, all of which lead to a drop in profits. They are very expensive mistakes.

  1. Adding too much value. This is the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion. Unless there is an actual mistake in work prepared by subordinates, rather let them enjoy their contribution. This encourages enthusiasm and innovation.
  2. Winning too much. The need of most successful people to win at all costs and in all situations, even if it doesn’t matter and is beside the point. These managers are seen as argumentative and often petty.
  3. Starting replies to suggestions with No, But or However. This is the secret way of telling people that they are wrong and that you are right.
  4. Failing to give proper recognition. This is the inability to praise or reward.
  5. Claiming Credit that is not deserved. Managers that do this often want to take credit for everything and doing this will quickly lose the contribution of their top performers.
  6. Refusing to express regret or apologizing. This is an inability to take responsibility for our actions, admitting we were wrong or recognize how our actions affect others.
  7. Failing to express gratitude. This is just bad manners.
  8. Speaking when angry. This is using emotional volatility as a management tool. Shouting at anyone is never acceptable in the work place, and is little more than the abuse of power.
  9. Not listening. This is one of the most disrespectful things managers can do. Active listening is a specific technique that requires practice, but is invaluable as a managerial tool.
  10. Passing judgment. This is the need to rate others and try to impose our standards on them. Not everyone is the same, and people do have different values and standards. If it doesn’t harm anything, avoid judging.

These are not the only negative behaviors that are common to executives and managers, but they do tend to have the most impact on the people you work with, and on their subsequent performance. It is theoretically possible to turn all of these into some sort of virtue, that actually help you to succeed, but in reality they will destroy the chance of ever building loyalty or motivated staff. The higher you go within any organization, the more the problems are likely to be behavioral. It is very rare that any one person will have all of these behaviors, but almost every executive will have a few.

The good news is that fixing these problems has an immediate positive impact on your performance and the performance of your direct reports, or your higher managers. It is not surprising that finding these behaviors and then working together to change them is one of the most rewarding services executive development can provide.

Most people resign from their managers, not the company

It is possible to learn from a bad manager, even if it is only how not to manage. Many managers are successful and share the same profiles - hard working, ambitious, results orientated, the desire to win, and many even have a good understanding and grasp of business techniques and knowledge. But as Peter Druker points out, management is both an art and a science. The majority of managers are technically competent, but have bad behaviours that prevent them from developing the art of management. And if their work requires the contribution of others (teams or individuals), then the art of management becomes just as important as the science of management. At the highest levels, this is even more important.

Few companies focus on individual managerial skills, as the focus is always on results, market share, profit margins etc. So most managers either guess how to behave, or copy what they think a manager should do from the manager they had as a junior. This results in much behaviour being called ‘hidden behaviour’. Managers are not even aware of doing them, let alone the impact that certain behaviours have on their teams or staff.So why is this important? Simply because research shows that people resign from their managers more than they do from the company. When you consider the cost, time and effort spent on attracting and recruiting future talent, bad behaviour resulting in staff leaving becomes increasingly expensive.

So why is this important? Simply because research shows that people resign from their managers more than they do from the company. When you consider the cost, time and effort spent on attracting and recruiting future talent, bad behaviour resulting in staff leaving becomes increasingly expensive.

It is not easy to change any behaviour, more so if you are not aware of it. However change is possible. All behaviour is seen, and can easily be highlighted in a 360 degree feedback process. Then it is simply working with an executive development professional to modify, change or stop behaviours that are damaging

Executives have an ongoing responsibility to themselves, their company, their stakeholders and their employees to continuously look for ways to improve their effectiveness.

Is Time Really the Problem?

How often do you blame the lack of time as the main reason why you fail to get things done? Everyone has exactly the same number of hours, minutes and seconds in the day. You cannot “manage” time. What you can manage is what you do during any given time period. It is how you use the time available that is often the difference between success and failure.

Managing Time Effectively

Take control of your own situation and accept responsibility for your results and actions. If you ‘run out of time’, it normally indicates that you underestimated the time required. There will always be the unexpected elements, but the more critical the task, the more you need to plan for the unexpected.

Decide exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. This should be your priority. Too many people have too many goals, and they usually fail at all of them because there are too many conflicts of interest. Write down your goals and commit to them. And don’t forget to add the ‘why’. If there is no good reason for doing something, why are you doing it?

Spend time planning your goals. What activities are necessary, and what do you need to sacrifice, adjust or delegate. Planning will also give you a reasonably accurate time frame that you need to allow for once you have listed all the tasks required to achieve the goal.

Accept that everything in life is about making choices. Aim to accomplish one or two goals, and then move on to the next ones. True success comes from the ability to focus, both your time and your efforts. Wherever necessary, get support from those around you, both in your personal and business life. It is always best to do this early, so you have the support you need before you even begin.

Prepare your weekly calendar by ‘booking’ time for the tasks you have to accomplish. This is often a problem for a number of senior managers who try to be available all the time, and end up suffering in their personal goals. Treat these as if the appointment was with your most important customer.

Learn to say “No”. In Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he breaks activities down into 4 categories – Not Important/Not Urgent, Urgent/Not Important, Urgent/Important and Not Urgent/Important. Something may well be urgent to someone else, but that does not make it important to you. To achieve your goals, aim to spend the majority of your time on things that are important to you

Beware of the time and effort devoted to ‘not important’ tasks. Conduct your own time usage study. Every minute that you can divert from not important categories to the important categories will move you closer to your goal.

Monitor your successes/problems in meeting your schedule each week and adjust where necessary. Be honest with yourself and continually reinforce your “Why” – what are you trying to accomplish and how important is that to you.

Being good often stops us from being great

For most executives, their strengths and personal styles have very often helped them to get to the position they are in now. However, these very same strengths are often the very things that prevent them from being successful at a higher level in the organization. To quote Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book – What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
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It is very difficult for managers who have chosen to succeed to add choosing to change. The more we believe that our behavior is simply a result of our own choices, the less likely we are to want to change our behavior. In psychology this is known as cognitive dissonance. It refers to the gap between what we believe and what we experience or see in reality. In other words, the more we believe that something is true, the less likely we are to believe the opposite is true, despite clear evidence that shows we are wrong.

A typical example is the attitude towards women as senior executives. If you believe that women can never make good executives, then everything that happens will be used to reinforce this belief. And if you hear about a very successful woman executive, you will tend to interpret it as the exception to the rule. This is cognitive dissonance applied to others. It can be a very disruptive and unfair force. It is even more common to apply the same concept to ourselves. 
My aim is to help you find these areas which are harming both you and your colleagues, and work with you to develop the skills and insights you need to stop being just good, and start being great.
 Now is an excellent time to start.

Company Culture for Success

Corporate culture is not an easy concept. It is extremely difficult to define; yet every company - big or small has one, and understanding its nature is very important for those running the organisation. The company culture is both an indicator of the "mood" of the organisation and a tool that can be used to improve its performance. Ralph Stacey in Managing the Unknowable provides a working definition of corporate culture. "Culture is a set of beliefs or assumptions that a group of people share concerning how to see things, how to interpret events, what it is valid to question, what answers are acceptable, how to behave towards others, and how to do things. The culture of a group of people develops as they associate with each other." Culture evolves over time, and is created by certain influences. These can include everything from the philosophy of the organisation's founder to its style of management, and even external factors such as the prevailing economic situation. Culture can impact on employee motivation; staff turnover and even absenteeism and punctuality.

Changing the Corporate Culture

Therefore changing the culture can also have positive results improving motivation and morale or even productivity and efficiency. And any reduction in staff turnover has definite financial benefits with reductions in recruitment and retention costs. If the culture of the company (either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’) is comfortable for everyone, then it may be possible to improve performance by using tools such as performance-related pay to reinforce the culture by rewarding those aspects of behaviour which the company particularly wants to foster. Or performance may be improved simply by "taking the cultural temperature" regularly. However changing corporate culture is difficult. Employees must "buy in" to cultural change if it is to succeed. And if they don't own it, then in the long term, management is not just kidding its employees, it is kidding itself. . The trick is to recognise the company's dominant culture and learn how to capitalise on it. In SMEs, for example, where there is a power culture, those at the centre might explore ways of making employees feel that they share in the company's fortunes, while not ceding any element of control to them. In a task culture, team-based bonuses might help improve team performance. There is no single solution which fits all companies. Businesses will often have to pick and mix strategies. As individuals have very different personalities, so groups of them, though they may look similar, may be quite different.

The Problems of Corporate Culture Clash

A big problem with corporate cultures is that they sometimes clash. If a company's growth is organic it may experience cultural transformations gradually and adjust to them. But if companies grow by mergers or acquisitions there is a danger that, from an HR perspective, it will be like mixing oil and water. If there is a lesson there for any company - big or small - it is that the human resources side of the deal needs to be thought out in advance in just as much detail as the financial aspects.