Selecting a Coach?

Choosing the right coach is critical. With plenty of coaches to choose from, proper diligence at the outset will go a long way to ensure a successful experience.

Determine your need.  Ask yourself what you’d like to get out of a coaching relationship. What are your goals? What are the biggest changes you want? What expectations do you have about coaching?

Look at Credentials.  One of the problems in the coaching industry is that anyone can call themselves a professional coach, life coach, personal coach, etc. as coaching is not regulated. There are ‘schools’ that will offer a credential after three hours of training and people read a book or watch a TV program and decide ‘I’m a coach!'” As a result, the quality of coaches varies dramatically.

Ask about their coaching style and methods. Beware of coaches whose methodology and approach are described using the latest buzzwords and catchphrases. Rather, a coaching model should be clear and direct.  Is there substance? Will they use assessments? Or is it a lot of enthusiastic hype and hyperbole?  (Commonly called smoke and mirrors!)

Talk with Potential Coaches.  Do you feel comfortable with him or her?  Is rapport easily established?  Wll they will keep confidentiality?  Trust your intuition and your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, you probably need to select someone else.

Trust your intuition and your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, you probably need to select someone else. On the other hand, if it feels good and they have the credentials, get started! A good coach can make a huge difference in your career and your life!

(Dr. Mimi Hull is a fully licensed psychologist and coach!)

Posted in Accountability, Training | 1 Comment

Dear Dr. Mimi

Dear Dr. Mimi:

We have a bully in our office. He is in sales and a top producer. I do not want to lose him. However, when he has a bad day or a bad week, he becomes mean, loud and ugly to his coworkers and even to me. He does not bully his customers, thankfully. How can I better handle this?

 —Bullied … And I Am a Manager!

Dear Bullied:

It is time to stand up and deal with the bully. Do not stay silent. The silence, shame and denial accompanying workplace bullying are exactly what the bully needs to succeed. If, as a manager, you continue to tolerate his behavior, you are setting a poor example and tacitly agreeing with and rewarding his behavior.

Track each incident. Note the behaviors, the date, time and nature of each infraction. This helps you avoid vague claims like, “You’re a bully,”  “You are too aggressive” or “You are rude to coworkers.”

Approach the individual and request a private meeting at his convenience. Do not deal with this in front of other employees, because this adds tension and can draw others into the conflict. Bring a copy of your personal notes to the meeting. Calmly and professionally explain every incident in detail. Tell him why his behavior hurts you and ask him to stop. The key here is diplomacy. Let him know that this behavior will not be tolerated and future infractions will result in disciplinary action.

 —Dr. Mimi

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Stages of Board Membership

Having trained literally hundreds of Boards, we have found that the typical Board member goes through stages. When people accept a Board position they feel special for being asked and are eager and excited.  However that enthusiasm does not mean they have knowledge about their position and/or the organization.  They need a strong orientation program to better understand the organization as well as to clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations.  It is also important to involve them quickly with activities that require an extra measure of energy, such as committee work and/or fundraising activities.

The second year brings with it a comfort zone in terms of their understanding of both the organization and their role as a Board member. They also start to consider if they want to serve in a greater leadership/executive role. In this second year, reliable board members often make their greatest contributions to advancing the organization.

If a Board member serves for more than three years, one of three things happens.  1. They are extremely valuable to the organization, 2. They meddle in the operations of the organization or 3. They become dead weight. This is why it is important that your bylaws include the length of board terms.  In two out of the three cases above, you may have to thank them for their service and suggest that they play a different role in the organization. Remember a good Board member drives the organization forward rather than dragging  it down.

Posted in Achievement, Commitment, Management | Leave a comment

The Power of Goal Setting

It is January, the month when the most resolutions are made … and broken. Why? Because they were not real goals. Goals drive achievement. They keep us focused and determined. The person with defined goals knows exactly what they want out of life and how they will achieve it. They are the masters of their destiny. First visualize your goals. What do you want? Write it down and keep the list handy and close. Cut out pictures that reflect your goals and keep them close as well.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. has stood the test of time.

Specific: Identify what you are passionate about and why … really.

Measurable: How will you know when you will achieve your goal? What will you take as evidence of its accomplishment? You also need to pick an exact time and date for the goal to be achieved.

Attainable: Can your goal be achieved? Is it realistic? If so, write it as if you are owed it and it is coming, no matter what.

Relevant: Make sure your goal will make a difference in your life and is something you are passionate about. Why do something that you don’t care about?

Timetable: What will be the interim, tiny steps that you will take to accomplish your goal? What will be your milestones and check points. What will you do if you get sidetracked? This timetable is key to your accomplishing your goal!

OK, you have the steps … so now get started … Ready, Set, GOAL!

(From Time Mgt. – Dr. Mimi Hull)

Posted in Achievement, Commitment, Goal Setting, Goals | 2 Comments

Communication Essentials

We are often asked what makes a person a good communicator. In our classes, we help people to do these four things that form the cornerstone of good communication, be they written or oral.

Be confident and open. Do not apologize before you say something. Statements like “I may be wrong but I think …” dilute your message and turn off the listener. It is okay to be strong in your opinions and statements, as long as you remember that whomever you’re communicating with has their own thoughts, feelings, perspectives, ideals and objectives.

Listen and do not interrupt. Listen carefully, not just to what people are saying, writing or emailing, but for the meaning and feeling behind the words. If you are formulating your response as the other person is talking, you are not fully listening. Remember you need to tune into how something is said as much as what is said.

Be direct and concise. Say what you mean and mean what you say. The same goes for writing. Make your point upfront. On e-mail, people should not have to scroll down through lots of verbiage to learn what you are wanting or saying. Communicate as directly, concisely and economically as possible. Time is important and people want you to use their time wisely.

Be honest and authentic. Trust is essential and when you are both truthful and real, people will listen and feel comfortable working with you. You can be both honest and diplomatic by thinking before you speak and choosing your words carefully.

These four principles sound easy enough, but implementing them takes time, training and practice. Having said that, the rewards are great. When done well, you will find that people will also follow you, which, by the way, is the core of leadership!

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Dear Dr. Mimi

Dear Dr. Mimi:

We have 22 employees in our company and have been experiencing increased turnover. We don’t know why. We are committed to improving our organization, but we don’t know what to do. Do you think doing a survey would be helpful? What should be the goal and the key areas covered, and how can we make sense of the results? We have never done anything like this and do not know where to begin. Help!

 —Survey Oy Vey!

Dear Oy Vey:

An employee engagement survey is a wonderful tool to help you determine how committed employees are and how this commitment influences their work effort. Studies have found that highly engaged employees are 1.3 times more likely to be high performers than those with lower engagement—and five times less likely to leave the company!

If you are committed to making changes, I suggest that the engagement survey should cover how satisfied people are with their organization, their job and their boss. Be sure to carefully customize the items to reflect your particular organization so the resulting data will help you discover the real issues that need to be addressed. I recommend using an online platform that not only helps ensure confidentiality but also allows people to make comments and suggestions for improvement. In my experience, if you act on suggested areas of improvement, the whole organization improves and the right people stay and support it.

 —Dr. Mimi

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Combating Tardiness

Employees come up with interesting excuses for being late… but have you heard any of these excuses before? “I dreamed I was fired, so I didn’t bother to get out of bed”. “I went all the way to the office and realized I was still in my pajamas and had to go home to change.” “I saw you weren’t in the office, so I went out looking for you”.

Chances are, you haven’t, but believe it or not, these are real-life excuses as to why an employee was late for their shift at work. All humor aside, tardiness in the workplace has become an increasingly problematic issue in businesses. In fact, tardiness is one of the top 3 most common reasons as to why employees are fired.  An employee who is habitually tardy sets a bad example for others. Having an entire group of employees that are habitually tardy can be detrimental to productivity. Here are just a few strategies that a manager can use to combat tardiness issues in the workplace.

  1. Establish written policies. Having a written out attendance policy leaves little leeway for employees to bend the rules.
  1. Start out by having a “heart to heart” conversation with the employee in question. Show concern, share ideas as to how they can be on time, and let them know the importance of their punctuality. This will show the employee that their tardiness is not going unnoticed.
  1. Create a culture where punctuality is rewarded. Even though showing up to work on time is “an employee’s job”, it is still helpful to reward employees for consistently being on time. Something as simple as a verbal acknowledgement can go a long way in making an employee feel appreciated, and ultimately, will reinforce their responsible behavior.
  1. If tardiness persists, take action. Having all bark and no bite shows you’re never going to follow through with your threats… sometimes it’s necessary to let go of employees who are blatantly ignoring your requests. This sets an example to other employees that excessive tardiness will not be tolerated.


Posted in Accountability, Employees, Ethics, Management, Responsibility, Time Management | Leave a comment

What to do if Caught Between 2 Bosses

A recent survey found that 62 percent of those who were rated highly by one boss in performance reviews weren’t rated as highly by the other. Personnel Decisions International, the company that conducted the survey, believes this data shows that managers’ bias comes through in performance reviews.

But that seems a bit too simplistic for such a complicated work relationship. The employee has to contend with two different sets of expectations, two different personalities, and two different understandings of “top priority.” Similarly, if the two managers aren’t in close communication, the employee can slip through the cracks.

These tips can help make things easier:

  • Clarify expectations. It’s crucial that the managers make sure the employee understands her bosses’ expectations of her. If the managers aren’t providing that information, she needs to seek it out.
  • Communicate early and often. Each manager needs to be aware of not only the employee’s workload and deadlines, but also of any areas that need development. That way, two people can work in tandem to help the employee correct any performance issues that may arise. If the managers aren’t talking, the employee often has to be the messenger.
  • Give the employee some leeway. For example, an employee told his managers that he’d get the work done, but he wanted the freedom to decide how it would get done. He reassured his bosses and earned himself some autonomy.

Even in the best situations, some employees and managers simply aren’t cut out for this kind of relationship. An employee might respond better to a particular manager’s style and may, in fact, do better work for that manager. He may just not be adept at frequently switching gears. Managers might become competitive about the employee’s time or have trouble communicating with each other. If these factors come into play, you’d probably get better results by having the employee report to one person.

Posted in Boss, Communication, Conflict, Difficult Situations, Employees, Management | Leave a comment

10 Mistakes Managers Make During Interviews

Hiring is one of the hardest parts of managing a team. A lot is riding on the initial meeting, and if you’re nervous or ill-prepared—or both—it can make you do strange things. The following mistakes are all too common, but they’re easy to avoid with some advance preparation.

1. You Talk Too Much

When giving company background, watch out for the tendency to prattle on about your own job, personal feelings about the company, or life story. At the end of the conversation, you’ll be aflutter with self-satisfaction, and you’ll see the candidate in a rosy light—but you still won’t know anything about her ability to do the job.

2. You Gossip or Swap War Stories

Curb your desire to ask for dirt on the candidate’s current employer or trash talk other people in the industry. Not only does it cast a bad light on you and your company, but it’s a waste of time.

3. You’re Afraid to Ask Tough Questions

Interviews are awkward for everyone, and it’s easy to over-empathize with a nervous candidate. It’s also common to throw softball questions at someone whom you like or who makes you feel comfortable. You’re better off asking everyone the same set of challenging questions—you might be surprised what they reveal. Often a Nervous Nellie will spring to life when given the chance to solve a problem or elaborate on a past success.

4. You Fall Prey to the Halo Effect (or the Horns Effect)

If a candidate arrives dressed to kill, gives a firm handshake, and answers the first question perfectly, you might be tempted to check the imaginary “Hired!” box in your mind. But make sure you pay attention to all his answers, and don’t be swayed by a first impression. Ditto for the reverse: the mumbler with the tattoos might have super powers that go undetected at first glance.

5. You Ask Leading Questions

Watch out for questions that telegraph to the applicant the answer you’re looking for. You won’t get honest responses from questions like, “You are familiar with Excel macros, aren’t you?”

6. You Invade Their Privacy

First of all, it’s illegal to delve too deeply into personal or lifestyle details. Secondly, it doesn’t help you find the best person for the job. Nix all questions about home life (“Do you have children?” “Do you think you’d quit if you got married?”), gender bias or sexual preference (“Do you get along well with other men?”), ethnic background (“That’s an unusual name, what nationality are you?”), age (“What year did you graduate from high school?”), and financials (“Do you own your home?”)

7. You Stress the Candidate Out

Some interviewers use high-pressure techniques designed to trap or fluster the applicant. While you do want to know how a candidate performs in a pinch, it’s almost impossible to recreate the same type of stressors that an employee will encounter in the workplace. Moreover, if you do hire the person, they may not trust you because you launched the relationship on a rocky foundation.

8. You Cut It Short

A series of interviews can eat up your whole day, so it’s tempting to keep them brief. But a quick meeting just doesn’t give you enough time to gauge a candidate’s responses and behavior. Judging candidates is nuanced work, and it relies on tracking lots of subtle inputs. An interview that runs 45 minutes to an hour increases your chances of getting a meaningful sample.

9. You Gravitate Toward the Center

If everyone you talk to feels like a “maybe,” that probably means you aren’t getting enough useful information—or you’re not assessing candidates honestly enough. Most “maybes” are really “no, thank yous.” (Face it: He or she didn’t knock your socks off.) Likewise, if you think the person might be good for some role at some point in the future, then they’re really a “no.”

10. You Rate Candidates Against Each Other

A mediocre candidate looks like a superstar when he follows a dud, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best person for the job. The person who comes in tomorrow may smoke both of them, but you won’t be able to tell if you rated Mr. Mediocre too highly in your notes. Evaluate each applicant on your established criteria—don’t grade on a curve.

Posted in Boss, Hiring, Interviews, Management, Selection | Leave a comment

9 Tips on How to Go Above and Beyond

Managing people isn’t just about getting the job done. To truly be a great leader, sometimes you need to go above and beyond what the job calls for.

1. Lead by example. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but the best way to get a point across is to be the model to emulate. Let employees follow your lead.
2. Get your hands dirty. Sometimes you need to show your employees that no one’s above doing unattractive tasks.
3. Make a difference to your employees. Don’t just be a generic manager — stand out as a leader and role model for your employees.
4. Gain your employees’ trust and respect. You’ll have a much easier time managing employees when they respect your rules and boundaries and trust your leadership.
5. Be empathetic to personal problems. Whether it should or not, what happens outside of work can have a big affect on the quality of work produced. Be sensitive if employees have personal issues that keep them from concentrating on work.
6. Be unique as a manager. Every position demands something different and you should be proud to be adept at your particular role rather than trying to emulate other managers.
7. Remember that ethics matter above all. Be honest and reliable in all of your business and personal relationships.
8. Be on the lookout for new ideas. You never know where your next great inspiration will come from.
9. Get to know your employees. Learn more than just their names. Get to know your employees’ family backgrounds, likes and dislikes. Doing so will make you more personable.

Posted in Accountability, Leadership, Management, Positive Environment | 2 Comments