How We Do It
1. Training & Coaching
It’s not just about imparting new skills but also drawing out the knowledge that resides in the executives.
Training and coaching have their places in every organisation. Understanding the main differences between training and coaching can help leaders make sure they use the right tool for the right tasks. If they can do that, everyone benefits.
Training is useful for things like changes in processes, procedures, or technology, new government regulations or to improve specific capabilities of teams and individuals. It trains something specific and is usually time-bound.
I have delivered sales training businesses in Ireland and the UK with a strong emphasis on process. The key to a successful sales programme is not magic – it’s planning, discipline and resilience allied to a compelling product offering.
I also deliver Negotiating Skills training on behalf of Local Enterprise Office, Galway.
The focus of coaching is usually task and performance. The role of a skills or performance coach is to give feedback on observed performance. Consequently, coaching usually happens at the workplace.
The coach is likely to set or suggest goals for the learner; measuring performance periodically as the learner develops new skills. This needs a good working relationship between learner and coach.
Coaching is particularly useful in helping executives develop strategies and prepare business plans because I focus on drawing out their knowledge and jointly building a framework and process to evaluate it.
In an age where instant gratification is glorified, it’s unsurprising that many entrepreneurs and young founders do not seek out a mentor as hard as they try to find a co-founder.
While arguments abound on why entrepreneurs do not need mentors but should only follow their own instincts and gut feelings, most successful tech titans have founders who had mentors. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs. Jobs was mentored by Mike Markkula — an early investor and executive at Apple. And Eric Schmidt mentored Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google.
I don’t claim to be Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt but over the past three years I have worked with over 60 businesses from solo start-ups to significant SME’s and mentored many of their leaders or senior teams.
I see my role as a mentor as providing encouragement and impartial advice; sharing experiences not found in books; helping to clarify thinking and focus on measurable outcomes; being a steadying influence; and most of all empowering leaders and teams to do this themselves.
3. Project Management or Interim Management
Sometimes a job needs to be done quickly and an organisation doesn’t have resources available to achieve this or doesn’t need the skill set for the long-term.
Interim Managers are experienced professionals who are not generally interested in permanent roles as they prefer a challenge that requires immediate availability and impact. They enjoy sorting out a crisis. Usually this involves assessing the situation relatively quickly and this includes the organisational issues as well as the business issues. They agree a plan of action with the key stakeholders and they go and execute the plan. When delivered they hand it back to the management team who benefit from the immediate impact but also the longer-term changes that have been delivered. They are experienced, they have no organisational history or baggage and they are highly motivated to deliver optimum results and go onto to the next challenge.