April 28, 2009

3 Myths of Networking

FREE Life Coaching Webinar!
Join the REBROADCAST of Life Coaching 101: An Intro to Life Coaching
April 29 @ 12 PM PST - click here to join!

True or False?
My perception of networking used to be attending group functions to pass out and collect as many business cards as possible. I carried this assumption with me until just a month ago. Just recently, I learned the following lessons...

1) I Have to be Extroverted. False. Those who are extroverted probably do thrive at large group functions because they are energized by meeting new people and sharing stories. For those who are more introverted, think of ways to connect on a smaller scale. Try scheduling meetings one-on-one. Build the depth of your connections over time.

2) A Bigger Network is Better. False. You may have a large number of acquaintances, but very few "friends." True, a bigger pool of connections helps, BUT still doesn't guarantee anything. Think Quality over Quantity. I'd rather have 5 connections that I can depend on, than 100 whom I barely know.

3) The More Events I attend, the Faster Results will happen. False. Networking takes time. Success doesn't happen overnight. Just because you are "busy" with many groups, doesn't mean you are being "productive." Managing your time is an essential skill in today's world. Joining a group isn't a bad thing, just make sure it serves a long-term goal. Get focused and prioritize your time. Knowing what NOT to spend your time on is just as important as what to spend your time on.

No one formula works for everyone. You have to know your personality, strengths and weaknesses, then go with what strategy "fits" you best. Networking is about building, not just making connections. Don't "sell" to people, try to help them. Be genuine and have normal conversations. You'll be amazed at what opportunities will pop up when you're just being yourself...

April 27, 2009

Your Company's Greatest Asset

The Answer is YOU!
During the FEAR of this economy, companies are laying off employees left and right. The objective is to cut costs, but the problem is NOW your business has no chance to succeed. Let me explain...

People are Your Greatest Asset

1) Productivity. When you cut workers, you cut production. For each person you layoff, someone else has to carry an additional worker's job responsibilities. I understand that diminishing profits means cuts somewhere, but why not cut energy usage, hours of service or overhead costs? When the economy picks back up you will be in no position to thrive without enough help.

2) Customer Service. No matter what industry you are in, the employee-customer transaction is essential to success. How many times are there problems with a product or service that calls for personal assistance? Great Customer Service is given by Great Customer Servants. If you want to create customer loyalty, hold on to your high performing workers. Great customer service turns a normal customer into a raving fan!

3) Solutions. When sales are down, look to your employees for answers. Try forming groups comprised from different departments to brainstorm potential solutions. Innovation is bred through management who is willing to be transparent about their current situation and humble enough to share the troubling data with their workers. As a worker, if your job was at stake in this economy wouldn't you offer to help turn things around?

Remember, the only way businesses will survive this current economy is by empowering their workers to try harder, work harder and think harder. People are the only solution to turning this economy around. Make sure you value them as Your Greatest Asset!

Growing Forward creates customized programs for businesses with 5 - 500+ employees. We'll meet with you and set up a program that meets your current needs.

April 23, 2009

Corporate Career Development

Help is on the way!
Let's say you are a manager that oversees younger workers. You have performance expectations that are not being met. Turnover is expensive and time consuming, yet you are frustrated and don't know how to get the MOST out of your workers. Here's your solution...

Corporate Career Development

There are some skills that colleges do not teach in order to be successful for the "business world" such as:
  • Good Communication Skills (written & oral)
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Motivation
  • Good Work Habits
  • Utilizing your Strengths
  • Goal Setting
  • Career Planning
  • Etc.
As a Manager, you don't have the time or energy to teach these skills in addition to your normal job responsibilities.

That's where Growing Forward comes to the rescue. Growing Forward offers:
  • Career Development Workshops
  • Individual Coaching
  • Management Techniques
  • Performance Reviews
  • Mentoring Programs
  • Generational Coaching
Growing Forward will create a customized program for businesses with 5 - 500+ employees. We'll meet with you and set up a program that meets your current needs.

April 21, 2009

4/22 @ 12 PM PST FREE Life Coaching Webinar!

4/22 @ 12 PM PST!
Life Coaching 101: An Introduction to Life Coaching

Have you ever wondered what Life Coaching does? Well, this is YOUR chance to experience it yourself!

Join me Wednesday, April 22 at 12 PM PST for an FREE interactive webinar on Life Coaching. This will be an audio and visual presentation, so all you need is a computer and an internet connection.

*If you plan to listen at work or in a public place, you might want to bring ear buds so you can hear clearly!

This short 30 minute presentation will include:

* a live coaching session
* visual imagery of coaching
* and a real-time Q & A session

This webinar is open to all so feel free to invite your friends, but sign on fast because it will close when it is full!

All you need to do is click on the following link on 4/22 @ 12 PM PST:

http://vyew.com/143891/Life Coaching 101

April 18, 2009

Leaders Need a Coach

Article by Dr. John Townsend
Every once in a while an article is written by someone else that explains the value of what you do clearer than you could. This is an article by Dr. John Townsend who has teamed up with Dr. Henry Cloud to create Cloud-Townsend Resources. They have written many books including Boundaries, Changes that Heal & 9 Things you Must Do. Here is an article by Dr. Townsend entitled "Leaders Need a Coach."

If you aren't getting some sort of coaching in your particular area of leadership, you probably should consider doing so.
A high percentage of people reading this article are likely getting some form of coaching. In fact, it is the norm today to have a coach, and almost aberrant not to have one. Coaching has been proven to be not only highly effective, but practically necessary, in helping leaders to reach the next level.

What is a coach?
While there are many definitions, it is essentially a person trained to help people improve their lives in specific ways. A coach knows how to help you improve your business, become a better leader, or meet personal goals.

I personally have received coaching for a long time, and have benefited greatly, both professionally and personally. I can't imagine not having some sort of structured relationship which intentionally focuses on my growth and success.

A coach is for you. His role is to help you get where you want to go. He functions as an advocate - someone who is on your side. Leaders often find themselves surrounded by people who are seeking personal gain, or have some other agenda behind their advice. The objective nature of the coaching position protects the leader from these hidden agendas. The coach wants your best, and your best alone.

A structure
. The coach has an orientation and structure she has studied and is competent in. She has a philosophy of improvement. She knows what leaders need to do, and how to provide the resources they need to be successful. This structure is what distinguishes coaching from friendship, support and encouragement. It may include these elements, but the structure takes you much further. Friends won't usually ask you to report back to them on a homework assignment, but a coach will. She operates much like a football coach; designing the plays that will help you to win the game. She knows what to anticipate, and what the outcome likely will be.

Individual understanding
. The best coaches are very good listeners. They know that real success doesn't come from a cookie-cutter approach, but from an individualized understanding. While the overall coaching structure may apply to all clients, a good coach actively listens to you and understands your individual situation and context. There is a great deal of room within the framework of the structure. He then tailors the approach to you, rather than tailoring you to the approach. He also digs beneath the surface, beyond the symptoms and behaviors that are going on.

To illustrate, let's say that you have a difficult time completing tasks and projects. You are a great starter, but somehow you find that things never get finished. You know you could be achieving at a higher level, but those unfinished things are holding you back, and you want your coach to help you resolve this. There are several possible causes of your problem, such as: allowing others to dictate your schedule, living a chaotic life, having a tendency to rescue others, being attracted to the urgent over the important, becoming bored in being diligent, experiencing a personal crisis, fearing failure, or fearing success. A good coach will listen and get to know you. He will uncover with you the real theme that is holding you back, and then set up the steps to help you get past it.

A process orientation
. Achieving lasting change and improvement takes time, so don't expect instant results. In his book Outliers, cultural and business expert Malcolm Gladwell says that truly exceptional people who make a difference have had around 10,000 hours of experience in their field of expertise (pp. 35-68). Real success involves real time. A coach understands the process, and uses it for your betterment. Together you develop the path, set the incremental goals, deal with the obstacles, and keep things accountable. Your coach keeps you in the process of life and leadership change.

If you want to find a good coach, talk to others who are getting good coaching and experiencing improvements in their lives. Coaching relationships tend to be very personal, so asking people you know personally is the best first step. Ask them what the experience is like for them.

Coaching can help you make the changes you want to see; it can also help you make the changes you haven't yet recognized, but need to. Best wishes on the process. God bless you.

April 16, 2009

Bridging the Generation Gap

Today's organization is a mixture of different generations. It's important to understand the differences in values, communication style, work ethic, etc. It's even more vital to apply these findings at work. Here's some suggestions to narrow the "gap" at work:

Baby Boomers - Think SUCCESSION plan. Plan with the end in mind. Boomers have all the experience and knowledge. Don't let the knowledge leave when you retire. MENTOR!
Help Gen X by: Delegating responsibility and tasks. This entrepreneur group enjoys leading projects, so start training them to take over. Teach them how to lead a team.
Help Millennials by: Giving them feedback on their performance. One of the biggest mistakes is expecting them to lead alone. This is a collaborative group. They lead by team consensus.

Generation X - LEADERSHIP skills. This generation is driven to be efficient. They prefer to work independently, yet need opportunities to lead people. This is the next group of leaders. They are the "hybrid" of Boomers/Millennials.
Help Boomers by: Offering efficiency solutions. Ask to get involved at the management level. Be proactive, not critical. Help your experienced counterparts understand the Millennials (most of you have younger siblings this age)
Help Millennials by: Showing them the work expectations of their Boomer supervisors. Teach them how to be professional. Help them increase the quality of their oral and written communication.

Millennials - TEAM players and TECH-savvy. This optimistic group expects to reach their dreams. Relationships are important - more important than their careers.
Help Boomers by: Asking Boomers to mentor you. In return, teach them technology PATIENTLY. Show them how technology increases efficiency.
Help Gen X by: Sharing your optimism. Tell them to lighten up and not take things so seriously. Explain how social networking helps build relationships.

This is a brief list, but a good start for implementing action NOW! Don't wait. Take action and be part of the SOLUTION!

April 14, 2009

Upcoming! FREE Life Coaching Webinar!

Life Coaching 101: An Intro to Life Coaching - April 22 & 29 @ 12 PM PST
(link released on 4/21!)

You can only know what Life Coaching is by experiencing it yourself!
Feel free to invite your friends!

What are YOUR Strengths?

The StrengthsFinder 2.0
People always ask me, "What assessments do you use for your clients?" There is only ONE I use with everyone, the StrengthsFinder 2.0. Let me explain why...

1) Uniqueness. The SF 2.0 is an online assessment that explains your top 5 talents. Did you know the odds of finding someone else with the same 5 talents in the same order as you is 1 in 32 million?! It's all about being unique. It's what separates you from the rest. Who doesn't want to know what they are good at?

2) Growth. The greatest room for growth is in your area of talent/strengths. This makes sense. Stop trying to be the jack of all trades. Focus on what you do well and do more of it! Think about the top athletes in the world. They get paid to do one thing well. How much more successful would you be if you spent more time developing your strengths?!

3) Results. Your answers don't change over time. Most assessments are behavior-based, which means they change over time. The SF 2.0 is based on "who you are." You were born with these talents, you can develop these into strengths and you will always be good at them. When you are using your strengths, others will positively reinforce you. Who doesn't want to be recognized for what they are good at?

After hearing that, you might be compelled to buy the book. Let me make it easy for you: Buy SF 2.0

The real power of the assessment is revealed through an appointment with a Strengths Coach. Fortunately, I am one, so if you are interested in learning how to make your strengths work for you...

April 11, 2009

Developing the Millennial Leader

I've worked with Millennials for the past 13 years so this is a subject that is very dear to my heart. I watch different executives and organizations try to develop young leaders only to be disappointed with the results. Maybe the problem is our approach? What if we met younger people where they are verses try to mold them into what we perceive a leader should be? Here are my observations over the past decade:

1) Purpose - Millennials are very "cause-driven." Look at all the civic minded protests and grassroots stands recently. Young people will stand up and fight for what they believe in. That translates over to career also. Most younger workers I see are bored at their jobs. Providing and implementing a vision for workers to follow is the leader's job. People want something and someone to follow. I'd say more than 80% of of the problems with employee morale and performance can be drawn back to lack of vision. Just like the old movie Field of Dreams said, "If you build it, they will come..."
Paint a destination for your younger workforce to go towards.

2) Collaborate - Not many great things are accomplished alone. The Millennial leader is more effective as a team, opposed to an individual. Why do you think social networking is so popular nowadays? Long gone are the days where a single person is the decision maker. One complaint I get as a Business Coach from management is that younger workers don't take enough initiative on their own. I agree. They're indecisive. They need to be surrounded by strong people who can pose different perspectives in order to make the best decision possible. Know this about Millennials and start forming a team of leaders not just one.

3) Technology - Talk about being connected. Technology is available to everybody. Millennials just tend to take more advantage of it. Let's talk about efficiency. There are differing views on work ethic - quality vs. quantity. Millennials feel that if they can finish an 8-hour job in 4 hours, then they can spend their time however they want once they're done. As management, understand that younger workers are faster and sometimes even brighter than you. Challenge them to utilize the internet and other forms of technology to accomplish even more. For example, research in the library used to take hours which now can be done on the internet in minutes. Don't punish younger workers for this skill, use it to your advantage!

4) Mentoring
- The Millennial Leader needs to be coached. You can't expect someone to be "professional" if they don't understand what that term means. As a Coach, I spend most of my time relating to my clients. I don't need to give them all the answers. I just need to listen to them and try to help them be as successful as they can be. Millennials are willing to learn. Most of them would put "career development" or "personal growth" as their top reason for staying at a company. Get involved! Pair them up with a Boomer or X'er. You'll be amazed at what they can retain.

The Millennials are a different breed than what we are used to. They need to be treated with care and respect. A wise man once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results." Stop managing and start leading!

April 9, 2009

Give Some Feedback!

Managing the Millennial Worker is a skill that can be refined by understanding what this younger generation is all about. Feedback is crucial to getting the most out of the Millennial Worker. Try these three tips to help you Maximize the Millennial!

1) Consistency - Millennial workers are looking for feedback ALL the time. It can be argued that even negative feedback is better than no feedback. Long gone are the days where managers can delegate tasks to their employees then expect them to complete it independently. Millennials are used to their parents asking, prodding, even invading their "personal space." By no means am I saying to pester them, but if you don't monitor them by giving them feedback about their progress - don't expect much in return.

2) Relationship - Millennial Workers are loyal to their leaders, not companies. If you as a manager are not communicating with them, they will seek other options available. This does not mean become their best friend or therapist, but show them you have a genuine interest in their success. Think about how much you would be willing to sacrifice for a good friend. That same concept works for the Millennial Worker towards his/her manager.

3) Empower - The bottom line is measured by output. If you as a manager are constantly communicating your standards and building a work-relationship with your employees, performance will take care of itself. Millennials want to be led. They are looking for leaders who care about their growth. There is a sense of urgency, pride and motivation when you are working for someone you respect and want to emulate in the future.

Don't think of feedback as what you have to put into it, but what you can get out of it. When you let someone know what you think of their work, they have a chance to improve on current expectations. Give your employees the best chance to succeed. Speak up! Feedback is the catalyst for superior performance!

April 7, 2009

3 Myths about Life Coaching

Fact or Fiction?
As a Life Coach, I feel part of my duty is to educate people about what Life Coaching does. Since most people "don't know", I thought it would be helpful to clarify some myths that are floating around...

1) Crazy: Only people who are confused or messed up need a Life Coach.
Actually, just the opposite is true. Counseling helps dysfunctional people get to a functional level. Coaching works with functional individuals bringing them to an optimal place. It's actually the people who want to get ahead that hire a Life Coach. It's that outside perspective that can identify what you are missing. It takes someone with enough humility to say, "I need someone to help me get to the next level." Anyone who has goals they want to accomplish will benefit from Life Coaching.

2) Age: Life experience determines competence. A Life Coach can only help clients that are younger than them.
Life Coaching is a process-oriented relationship. It's not about me (coach) giving you (client) advice. That is counseling or mentoring. A Life Coach does not need to have walked in your shoes to help you. Their goal is to help you find a solution that you initiate yourself. A Life Coach focuses on "how" to reach your goals. Personally, I have coached clients older than me very successfully. The only barrier is your own ego. If you can put that aside, the skies the limit!

3) Value: Life Coaching sounds great, but it's too expensive.
Think of the last brand name product you purchased. You were willing to pay the extra price because of the perceived value of it. That's just like Life Coaching. I would be skeptical if a saw Life Coaching offered for next to nothing. Just like anything, you get what you pay for. I haven't altered my prices during the recession because I know what I offer is worth it. Ask for a FREE introductory session. See if the chemistry is there. The ROI (return on investment) of coaching can be as high as 700%! What you initially "invest" in Life Coaching "pays back" in multiples over time.

Have you avoided Life Coaching because you don't know what it does?! This is your chance. TRY IT!!! What would it COST you NOT to give it a try?

Growing Forward will coach you to be your best! Partner with us and reach your goals faster!

April 6, 2009

Increasing Employee Morale

There are several studies done on workplace morale, but today let's take a firsthand look at what affect morale has on performance. Being a coach and working in different environments, I believe it comes down to the following 3 factors:

1) Trust: The starting point for all relationships. I emphasize relationships because the shift has gone from company loyalty to personal loyalty. People are loyal to people, not jobs. As a manager, it is your responsibility to create and maintain trust with your employees in order for the morale to have a chance to increase.

2) Communication: A wise man once told me, "You can never over-communicate." We often make the mistake of assuming and expecting others to know what we are thinking. Younger workers were raised differently, so be clear and specific with your instructions. Communication is a two-way street. Both parties need to participate. Try this for improving communication: set up a mentoring program pairing your older and younger workers together. The more experienced workers can transfer knowledge, while younger workers can teach technology.

3) Environment: Performance is a reflection of a worker's personal life. Times have changed. When we hire workers under the age of 30 there is a blurry line between business and personal lives. Basically the problems outside of work are brought into work. That is why it is key to establish trust and communication immediately. Those two factors will reveal what environment is best suited for the employee. It's those little things such as "perks", positive feedback and work relationships that make the biggest difference in morale. Environment is all about how one feels or perceives the workplace. It doesn't take a percentage raise (but that doesn't hurt) to change the mood of a worker. Try rewarding someone with an iTunes card or call a worker into your office to let them know impressed you were with last week's project.

If you forget everything else I mentioned above, remember this one quote, "Nobody cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care."

Be proactive! Be part of the solution. Take small steps to improve the morale in your workplace. Take pride in making a difference!

April 4, 2009

Motivating the Gen Y/Millennial Worker

I've heard enough stereotypes and complaints about dealing with the younger worker that I could write a book. Maybe a shift in perspective will change your reactive ways to proactive methods. Try these 3 simple steps the next time you are engaged with a worker under the age of 30.

1) Understand: Don't assume the younger worker knows what you expect of them. They have a different work ethic, goals and communication style. Read into the stereotypes and try to see the world from their perspective. If you put yourself in their shoes, I'm sure things will improve dramatically.

2) Relate: After you have learned what makes a "Millennial" tick, try communicating on topics they actually care about. You'd be surprised how much progress is made relationally when you have reached some common ground. Just like a salesperson tries to speak to a client's "agenda", approach the younger worker the same way. Who knows, you might even gain some trust and respect!

3) Motivate: Since the beginning of time, regardless of age, humans have always been more motivated to make an effort towards the things that they want. It's not as easy as dangling more money in front of them (although it wouldn't hurt), but be creative based on what you've learned from your prior conversations. One example is to play into their desire for "work/life balance." Simply put, work is a means to support their personal endeavors. Knowing this, reward superior performance with some time off. To a Millennial, this means time off to spend on their hobbies (and a "cool" boss).

Let's not approach the younger worker with fear or apprehension. Understand who you are working with and change the ways you do things. You may think these suggestions are quite "soft" which is correct, but they are also effective. We all want increased productivity, but the "means" to achieve that have changed with the generations. Stop caring so much about the "how" and be concerned about the 'bottom line.' Like it or not, in 5 - 10 years the younger workers will be our managers. The reality is: we need them, more than they need us!