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What does a business coach do?

Business Coaches help business owners (or business leaders) in business effectiveness and personal effectiveness.

Business Coaches work with business owners and business executives in two distinct areas:

  • 1) Helping business owners who don’t know what to do in a particular area of his or her business. I would call this “business effectiveness.” All areas of business effectiveness fall into the broader categories of Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Human Resources, Leadership Development, Systems Implementation, Strategic Planning, Financial Management, and Exit Planning / Succession Planning. Business coaches work with successful people who are “stuck” in certain areas of their business.  These areas can be related to low profits, cash flow problems, poor quality of products/services, lack of leadership depth, a poor company culture and limited company value, people problems, or working too many hours, which can result in an unhealthy work/life balance.A professional business coach helps get the client gain clarity so the owner can work strategically on business development and systematically solve these problems.  This results in higher profits, better cash flow, and a happier workplace, which in turn leads to a healthy, productive, and joyful life.
  • 2) The second  area where a business coach comes in is when the client knows what he or she should be doing, but isn’t doing it.  This is what we call “personal effectiveness.”Many personal effectiveness issues stem from bad habits and beliefs.  Personal effectiveness starts with knowing yourself and knowing your own personal vision and goals.  From here it moves to how you interact with other people of all personality and behavioral types.  Ultimately, personal effectiveness is about behavior that is congruent with values.  It is about being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.With all the pressures in our world, it is very difficult to maintain personal effectiveness without paying ongoing, deliberate attention to it.  A business coach provides the structure and knowledge necessary to help people maximize  their personal effectiveness.

 

Procrastination No More

 

What is one of the worst feeling words in our vocabulary? Procrastination. I cringe when I hear this word, do you?

It conjures up mental images of having to meet a deadline, emails piling up in the inbox, a garden full of weeds,  a to do list that has coffee stains and yellow corners because it has been sitting around for a while. We all know it well. It’s the common disease of modern times, the unwanted child of Mr. Overwhelm and Mrs. Excuse, born out of wedlock, unloved and unattended.

We are all victims of procrastination, sooner or later it creeps up, infects our minds  and will not go away. The good news is: There is a cure.

It is a remedy made up of a combination of discipline, planning, small action steps and rewards. To some of us, discipline is a dirty word, the frugal puritans or  a military drill may be images that come to mind. And yet, discipline breeds success. Once a simple discipline is followed on a daily basis, this discipline becomes a good habit, and good habits are the fundamentals of a happy and fulfilled life. Discipline makes us proud of ourselves, we have a feeling of accomplishment, of defeating the couch potato syndrome, of having achieved a small win. And a few good habits take us a long way.

Let us look at a few habits that may serve you well:

Habit #1

Start your day with 15 – 20 min. of exercise. Go for a walk or run, do yoga, whatever fits you. This brief exercise will get your blood flowing and produce dopamin in your brain which will help you with focus and willpower.

Habit #2

Next,  spend 15-20 minutes to plan your day and set priorities. Write down the 3 most important things you want to accomplish by the end of day. Only then check your email and adjust your priorities if needed.

Habit #3

Now that you know your schedule, plan for nutrition and breaks. When we do not take time to have a quick break and drink enough water and have a snack we get tired and overwhelmed and we loose focus. It was suggested to take a short break every 90 minutes. Have some fruit or snacks ready so your brain gets the sugar it needs to function at an optimum level.

Habit #4

Do difficult things in the first half of the day. Leave the afternoon for easier to accomplish things and routine tasks – we loose focus and energy over the duration of the day.

Habit #5

Embrace goal setting. Having a few goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (even though a little stretch won’t hurt) and timely will keep you moving forward. This helps you measure your growth and learning and will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Habit #6

Celebrate each little win, each step towards your goal. Have fun, give yourself some reward, share your wins with others.

Of course, this is just a short list of things that will help you conquer procrastination. There are many tools available, please email me at coach@heidihowley.com and I will send you a priority worksheet you can use to identify your most important tasks.

Help with strategic planning

It’s already February!

You may have set goals and already stalled on some of them. Just making a list of actionable items is not enough to get you inspired to truly go for what you want to accomplish this year. Try this approach:

Take 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Ask yourself these questions and jot down the answers

  • WHAT have I LEARNED in the past year?
  • WHAT are my GOALS for the coming year?
  • WHY are these goals important to me? 
  • WHAT are OBSTACLES I face for each GOAL?
  • HOW will those obstacles be eliminated?
  •  WHAT are my STRATEGIES for reaching each GOAL?
  •  WHAT are some of the MILESTONES to reach while pursuing each STRATEGY?
  •  WHAT are the CRITICAL activities to ensure each MILESTONE?
  • WHEN must each critical activity be completed?
  • HOW READY am I to perform the activities?
  • HOW inspired/motivated am I to perform the activities?
  • WHAT type and level of SUPPORT will I require to succeed?

You may already use a project planning software to enter milestones, critical activities, etc. If not, a day planner or even a weekly calendar can be used to enter milestones to track your activities. Always go back to the WHY when you feel your enthusiasm waning.

If you would like help with implementation, coaching can help you stay on track, keep you inspired and hold you accountable. Don’t we all need a coach? Contact me to find out how we can work together to make things happen in 2014.

Manager as Coach

Whether you are a manager trying to develop your people and create more employee engagement or trying to develop yourself , you need to know that one of the key ways you can have a positive impact on the business is by operating more as a “Coach” than a “Manager.”

A study conducted by Bersin & Associates showed that organizations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent(!) as compared to those who never coach.

So what is a coaching approach?

  • Coaching is an “Ask vs. Tell” approach. Instead of  telling the employee what to do, you ask powerful questions, allowing the employee to create their own solutions. When they go through their thought process and come up with a solution on their own, they are much more bought-in because it was their idea.
  • Coaching focuses on the employee vs. the task — it’s about development, about helping the employee to grow and learn and become more effective, thus creating a feeling of empowerment, being a contributor and an important part of the organization. This leads to more job satisfaction and employee retention.
  • Coaching is not about “fixing” anyone. Again, it is about their development and facilitating the learning process, employees who feel they are heard and supported will contribute to the success of the company.
  • Coaching is about setting up a clear accountability structure for action and outcomes. It helps keep the employee focused on achieving the desired goals.
  • Coaching is something that can/should happen as needed and in-the-moment, which is the best way for learning to occur.

Acting more like a coach

So how can a Manager behave more like a Coach?

  1. Ask open-ended questions to enable the process.
  2. Listen. Meet the employee where they are.
  3. Guide the conversation (through questions, not directives) to a mutual agreement of the priorities of development.
  4. Ensure that the feedback information is heard and understood by the employee. Again, asking clarifying questions is the best way to do this.
  5. Do your part to support the employee through a shared commitment to their goals, responsibilities and action steps.

Are you up for the challenge? Your team, the business and your career will all benefit if you begin to operate in Manager-as-Coach mindset. Your employees will be developed and challenged in way that truly builds new skills and enables them to learn from experiences.

Consider using the DISC assessment to create awareness around communication and behavior styles.  High Performance teams are built through mutual understanding and agreement on what matters most. Please contact me if you would like to know more.

 

Success = Happiness?

When we look at what defines success, most people will think of financial success, maybe a career advancement or making a nice profit in your business. But is that truly what success is?
Could success also mean living a balanced life, having not only a career that is rewarding or a business that is prospering but also a happy marriage or relationship, a body that is vibrant and healthy and enough time for fun, being able to have a hobby or spend time with friends?
In a recent coaching session a client stated that for him success and happiness were the same thing.
If it were, would work/life balance make you happier?

Article in the Wall Street Journal about happiness at the workplace (Nov. 25, 2012)

Richard Branson’s recently posted this article about happiness

How happy are you?

How much has your company grossed this quarter? Read more

7 Steps Towards Work-Life Balance

1. When you really think about it, at its core, work-life balance is about self respect and self love. Start by asking yourself: What are my personal values and priorities? What do I have to have in my life to feel successful, loved, nurtured, happy?

2. We all juggle many balls and wear many hats and are constantly trying to balance personal and professional priorities. Remember: When you are balanced and happy, all else falls into place, tasks are done with ease and you have enough energy to deal with challenges and pitfalls. Start by planning your week, write down your priorities and then commit to live by them. When life gets busy, it is easy to give up the personal activities that make you happy and re-energize you.

3. Listen to your body. Are you feeling low in energy, do you dread getting up in the morning? A recent study has shown that consistently working long hours does not bring better results. It actually makes you less productive. Get enough rest. Learn to say no. Read up on good nutrition, cut out sugar and junk food and commit to regular exercise. This will help you maintain your energy level throughout the day and will also boost your self-esteem.

4. Plan for downtime each week and make it non-negotiable. What small gift can you give yourself each week? Getting a massage every other week will not only help you relax, it’ll also boost your immune system. Taking time to read a good book, soaking in your bathtub using scented salts, maybe retreat to your bedroom, lighting candles and listening to your favorite music, watching a movie that makes you laugh.

5. Delegate. Outsource. Are there weekly or monthly chores outside of work that you really don’t enjoy doing? If you don’t enjoy cleaning your house, cleaning the windows, taking care of the yard, grooming the dog – then look into getting help. This is one gift you can give yourself – and well worth it.

6. Spend time with the people you love. For us to thrive, we need to feel connected. If work is overtaking all your time and you are too tired for your family or to get together with friends, it will eventually affect your sense of well-being. Block out time in your weekly planner for a date, for connecting with friends and family.

7. Create a mind map of what your perfect work-life balance would look like: start with how many hours you feel comfortable working each week. This will differ for everyone and will also change as you age & have other commitments in your life. Now look at your finances. If you simplified your life, how much money do you really need to be making? Now compare these results to what you are actually doing right now. What steps can you begin to make today to bring these into alignment?

Taking the Risk of Being Authentic

I just watched a two-part interview by Oprah of Brene Brown, a university professor and researcher at the University of Houston who studied vulnerability and is the author of three best-selling books.

Her 2010 TED talk, “The Power Of Vulnerability,” changed her life. The topic resonated, and today her talk has nearly 10 million views.  She states that it is important to be vulnerable,  in work and in life, because it gives you courage and demands that other people be authentic, too. If we continue to just show our masks, showing the side of us that will be accepted by others and society, we miss the opportunity of real connection with others, rich, deep friendship and a relationship that includes intimacy also on an emotional level. We let ourselves be ‘seen’, be authentic, not having to pretend to be a super-man or woman. Just a human being with faults, with fears, with emotions. We are accepting that others may not want to see the vulnerable, emotional side, and that we might be hurt. The more we allow ourselves to take the risk of being our authentic selves, the more powerful we feel, the more alive – and as we show up as ourselves we gain strength, courage and we demonstrate self-love.

Brene herself was harshly criticized for her talk, her appearance, the content and message she gave. She said, that after watching 8 hours of ‘Downtown Abbey’ as therapeutic tuning out, she remembered  a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that helped helped her overcome the  criticism:


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Inspiring, isn’t it?

 

Happiness at Work

The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. ~ William James, Science of Happiness

In a ground-breaking TED talk, psychologist Shawn Achor describes studies of happiness in the workplace and in universities and schools. According to Achor, our external world only predicts 10% of our long term happiness in life. The other 90% is determined by how our brain processes information. “It’s the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time” he states. Read more