Business owners and key executives are always looking for good talent and often ask if I would refer potential candidates. Although I ultimately agree to keep my eyes peeled for such talent, my mind always wanders to the question, “Why not simply promote from within?”
This is actually a misnomer. One either promotes an existing employee (promoting from within) or one hires an external candidate to fill a position (promoting without?). So, we’re really talking about promoting key employees versus hiring externally to fill a vacancy.
I’m a big fan of promoting employees. When properly planned and executed, it works wonders for employee morale and customer loyalty. It is less risky and less costly, especially compared to external hires that end up being a poor fit.
Need more reasons? Employees already know your customers, your values, and how the organization works. There’s tremendous value stored in the institutional memory. External candidates generally have no idea about these factors and may never fully adapt to your culture. Employees who see the potential for growth within the organization are more loyal to the organization and convey their feelings to customers. Conversely, employees who only see a dead end send negative vibes to customers.
In this final installment in a three-part article, 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.
It was then that I realized that I simply had to become a business coach. While I would be able to leverage my previous years as a management consultant, developmental coaching (my chosen path) would rely on a different skill set and test them every day. Through the RAC Coaching Academy, I learned the new skill set very quickly and put them to use just as quickly, helping a wide range of coaching clients achieve their goals and change their lives.
I have a deep appreciation for the fact that working with a business or executive coach is a highly personal endeavor and that the outcomes can be as varied as the individuals themselves. That’s why I pay particular attention to the uniqueness of people and organizations before recommending a particular path to success. My clients recognize and appreciate that level of attention and their positive feedback provides a daily affirmation that I’ve answered my true calling.
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.
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.
Have you ever been a part of a committee or project team and thought to yourself, “Mary is an okay leader, but I know I could do a much better job.”? Admit it, we’ve all had that nagging feeling at some point in our lives.
The difference in my case is that, although, I’ve never expressed those words out loud, my nature led me to be as supportive and constructive as possible to help the group succeed, to the point that it wasn’t long before I was recruited to be the group’s leader.
I first got that feeling when I was still a teenager on a volunteer committee for the Baltimore City Fair, an annual three-day event in Baltimore City—it wasn’t long before I was asked to chair the committee. It happened again when I became a Boy Scout District Committee member. And again, when I attended a meeting of our Homeowner’s Association. And numerous other times, including being asked to facilitate a CEO Peer Group that I had recently joined.
In each case, I was invited to take a leadership role and it just seemed like a logical progression. This time, though, there was no one to ask me to take a larger role. This time, it was up to me.
My consulting career began in the early nineties back when it seemed like the only people who had coaches were professional and Olympic athletes. Certainly, Business Coach was not a role that had much prominence in the minds of most executives. It was a pretty prescriptive atmosphere—I would make recommendations and the client would generally ask for help in getting the rest of the organization to understand and adopt the changes. Rarely did CEOs see that their behaviors needed to change in order to assure the success of the organizational changes they sought. Throughout it, I had a nagging feeling that I needed to do more to guide the CEO but hadn’t yet connected the dots and arrived at a workable approach.
The work was still enormously rewarding. My focus on strategy, quality, and leadership allowed me to work with companies in diverse industries here and abroad. It was heady stuff, guiding a major business unit from losing nearly half a million dollars annually to profitability in less than a year. But there was something missing. Many, if not most, changes seemed to lack any kind of permanence. Where were the behavior changes that would enable the improved ways to survive beyond the first few months? A lot had to do with how attuned the leadership was with the behaviors they needed to model from that day forward. This was a rare occurrence indeed.
I eventually accepted a very attractive job offer from one of my clients which led to more than a decade of adventures spanning several industries before my question would be answered.
To read the rest of the story, please see Part II.
Our new video is out today. It is a quick, 30-second spot that will help us get the word out about Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel. Please take a moment to view it, like it, subscribe to our channel, and comment on it.
It was fun to produce and we thank Lowell Sheets for such a fine job! Click to watch the first Baltimore Business Coach spot.
There is a steady flow of information in the form of books, articles, white papers, and training all in the context of "what is leadership" or "how to develop a leader?" In this article, I will avoid those two questions and write about two others that I believe might be on the minds of a lot of readers and they are:
Why does better leadership make a difference? and
How does better leadership achieve those differences?
Leadership is a highly unique form of human behavior that requires the integration of character, knowledge, and experience. What can you do if you step up and unleash your leadership potential? Change the world.
Your journey to unleashing your leadership potential begins with a greater understanding of self. Discover your personality traits and how they relate to leadership. When we know ourselves, we can maximize our positive traits and become aware of our weaker areas, which helps us to achieve our leadership potential. Once you understand and know yourself, next you must hone your communication skills. These are not limited to your public speaking skills either. This includes your writing style and your body language. Your ability to communicate effectively enhances your ability to improve interpersonal relationships. Another important skill is to learn how to learn. Examine different teaching methods and learning styles to identify how you and those you may lead learn best. This skill will greatly enhance your ability to make decisions and give clear instructions.
An exceptional leader recognizes the value of harnessing the skills and abilities of team members and leads them toward greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Leader is not a title, and leadership is not something you are born into. Leadership is something you develop.
This is what Dr. Ken Blanchard, had to say about good leaders in his book "The Heart of A Leader": "If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek."
Ahhhh. The weather has begun to shift from the humid blast furnace that is August to the cooler, less humid days of September. The kids are back in school and bright yellow school buses flit across the county once again.
The Orioles are winding down their regular season while the Ravens are getting their regular season under way. And all of Baltimore is all abuzz with talk of possible post-season baseball for the first time in more than a decade.
These are all welcome changes, especially if you're an Orioles fan! Change happens every day. Most of us welcome the change in seasons and look forward to those early signs of the incoming season like the clear, cool nights which reveal the planets, stars and galaxies in all their glory.
Some change is fascinating to witness. ENIAC, commonly thought of as the first modern computer was built in 1944. It was larger than an 18 wheeler, weighed more than 17 Chevy Camaros, and consumed more than 140,000 watts of electricity to execute up to 5,000 instructions per second.
In 1989 the popular 486 microprocessor was built on a tiny piece of silicon about the size of a dime and could execute up to 54,000,000 instructions per second. By contrast, today's smart phone places far greater computing power right in the palm of your hand. Now, that's change!
This is just one example of dramatic technological developments. Think of how those developments have changed your personal life. Think of the impact they've had on your business life. And, technology is only one of the drivers of change!
Many people agree that the pace of change is staggering and that adapting to the changing business climate is one of the crucial capabilities of any successful business leader. From a business standpoint, some changes are welcome and some are not so welcome, but the most successful among us recognize that change is inevitable and adapt their strategies and tactics accordingly.
As a business leader, how do you know if you're in tune with the pace of change in your industry? What adjustments should you be considering when it comes to your strategies, goals, and plans? How do you ensure that your planning process adequately accounts for changes in your industry? To what extent is change embraced rather than avoided? These are questions that you and your business coach can explore at length so that your path forward is not only clearer but directly relevant to your situation. If you don't have a business coach, here are three reasons you should.
This is a favorite question of mine when meeting with potential clients after they express the inevitable frustration that comes with unmet goals or lackluster performance. The answer is often “the economy.”
This reveals a particular blind spot amongst many entrepreneurs and executives. When I delve deeper into their competitive situations, more often than not, I learn that the potential client has competitors who are doing rather well in spite of the economy.
The implication is that, if one or more competitors can thrive, the prospect should also have the ability to do better. While it is true that the opportunity to thrive does exist, the ability to outpace the competition often boils down to the willingness of management to change. This is where the blind spots are often revealed. As a business coach, it is easy for me to see. The challenge then becomes getting the client to recognize those blind spots.
You see, it is quite often the entrepreneur or executive him/herself who is standing in the way. Or, more specifically, it is their failure to see beyond the obvious challenge and identify opportunities for them to gain market share or to improve margins. Don’t get me wrong. One can’t simply pretend the economy isn’t a huge challenge for Americans. It is, but it doesn’t have to end there.
It is disturbing how many business people are simply hunkering down and waiting for customers to start spending again. They don’t allow for the possibility that they can take proactive measures toward improved performance. They know there is nothing more they can do!
I recently had a solo entrepreneur tell me that there was absolutely nothing under the sun that he could do differently to increase revenues. He had been stagnant for three full years and was proud of his loyal customer base. He didn’t allow for the possibility that he had overlooked opportunities to upsell to those customers and that his direct competitors had all increased their market share. It wasn’t until we got deep into the discussion that it dawned on him that he had completely overlooked some key opportunities and that he had been standing in his own way!
If you have an uneasy feeling that you too might be standing in your own way, contact us now for a free initial consultation so that you can go beyond survival mode and actually thrive!
There are actually a lot of things to consider when bringing in outside help. Two things often get lost in the shuffle, though, so I want to help you keep them foremost in your mind when making a selection.
Profitability. All too often, people will try to sell you services that somehow detract from one of your key goals—profitability. Your firm exists for many reasons, not the least of which is to turn a profit. Without profitability, why bother? That is why we team with our clients to leave no stone unturned in seeking to maximize profits.
Uniqueness. Every company and business leader has a unique story to tell, yet some advisors will all but ignore what can often differentiate you from your competitors. We like to see what’s special and unique about your company and your situation, and help you come up with just the right plan of action. Our services are tailored to take full advantage of your uniqueness.
You’ll also want to know the sometimes hard truth about what we’re seeing in your organization, even when it’s tough to hear. We’ll be straightforward about everything so that you can formulate the best strategies and plans for your situation. Make sure you’re getting the straight dope.
“I have had five different outside people comment on the changes they have observed since the program started. They used words like Things are different around here. People are now working together in a collaborative way I didn’t see before. This place is alive all of a sudden! When I came in here two months ago this place was like a morgue! What did you do?” – Financial Institution
“I never would have believed that we would accomplish the expectations that were set out in the first meeting, but we did!” – Service Industry
“As a result of our commitment to the Strategic Plan, our sales are up over 300% from our sales as of this date one year ago.” – Basket Manufacturer