In this second installment, Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel describes how one company's challenge placed him on a path to help other business owners create their ideal business and dream lifestyle.
During my first exposure to a Business Coach, I was learning Accountability Coaching from a very lovely, supremely empathetic coach who specialized in family-owned businesses. We were gaining all manner of insight into how to make sure our team would get the right results “no matter what.”
The premise of the program is that one can learn a step-by-step process for creating a culture of accountability in a way that makes people eager to work and enhances trust and respect between managers and employees. Great stuff! And, plenty of companies had succeeded in learning this step-by-step process and were reaping the benefits.
After several sessions of facilitation and role-playing on how to effectively coach employees, that nagging feeling returned. As my colleagues and I began to apply our newfound skills to our direct reports, it became quite evident that our organization had skipped an important step along the way and we were trying to build a functional process without having first laid any sort of foundation. Every company has a different history, and a unique management system or lack thereof. Some companies have systems that are further along the evolutionary scale and are ideal laboratories for the techniques touted by the latest management author. Some companies haven’t evolved to the point where a sufficient foundation exists for these techniques to take root and flourish.
On top of that, the CEO had, in effect, settled on a solution (Accountability Coaching) without first being clear on where we were all headed and how, organizationally, we would all manage to get there. Worse yet, we were all engaged in alleviating a symptom rather than its root cause. We had no plan and we were ill prepared to articulate to the workforce where this would all lead.
I just knew I could do a better job but the odds were against me even getting the opportunity. I couldn’t just sit idly by while the organization squandered a golden opportunity. The CEO clearly understood that the status quo was no longer acceptable and was motivated make some changes. He had decided to invest in the process and had engaged a coach. By all indications an open-minded commitment to improvement existed.
Perhaps I could facilitate both the coach and the management team toward greater awareness without being disruptive or appearing to be anything more than an eager participant. So, I started asking questions which forced us all to engage in deeper analysis of the problems we were trying to solve. It made the coach look like a master facilitator and gave everyone the opportunity to begin to shed light on potential blind spots. It was invigorating.
Although the CEO was still sold on Accountability Coaching, we did pivot and turn our attention to vision and strategy. It was immensely rewarding to see that we would finally be defining the future of the company so that we would better be able to establish goals, metrics and alignment. Then we really would be able to foster true accountability.
Our first planning session ended up producing everything we needed to bring clarity to our vision, strategies, goals and metrics. Enthusiasm ran high and it appeared that the accountability coaching would turn out to be worthwhile because we would have a solid foundation upon which it could function.
To read the conclusion to this story, please see Part III.