Tag Archives: HR

Finding a mentor or a coach

One of the first questions I get asked by entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives interested in mentoring and coaching is, “what’s the difference between them?”

Coaching is a process in which a coach asks a series of cascading questions (sometimes referred to as Socratic Method), to help the person being coached use their own experience, intuition, and intelligence (emotional and intellectual) to come up with the answers they are looking for. Coaching is not advice driven in that the coach asked questions but does not proffer feedback or attempt to move the person being coached in a particular direction.

Mentoring is similar in it’s approach to coaching in that strong mentors are also good coaches. What mentors bring to the table that coaches don’t is the ability to add in their personal sage experience in the areas the person being coached is struggling with. Mentoring is both question and advice/guidance based.

Now that we know the difference, here are the rest of the questions I get asked:

  • Do you (Mike) have a mentor or a coach: I have two Mentors who are also very strong coaches, Walt Sutton and Guff Muench. I am grateful for the time, energy, and wisdom they’ve shared with me. They are great men who I have a deep admiration for.
  • How did your meet your mentors? Walt and I were introduce by a mutual acquaintance. Guff and I were introduced through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Mentorship Program (a program I founded in Vancouver with the help of the late Steve Cowan).
  • Where can I find a mentor ? I’ll get the self-serving part out of the way first – at ViRTUS we offer both Mentoring and Coaching. One of my mentors, Walt Sutton, has space to work with another entrepreneur or CEO right now as well. The other way is to consider successful people in your life who have accomplished something similar to what you’d like to accomplish (family friends, executives in your company, other entrepreneurs you know, members of associations you belong too, etc.). Approach them to see if they are interested in having lunch or coffee from time to time so you can learn from their experience.
  • If I want to hire someone to mentor or a coach me, what does it cost? The range for coaching and mentoring in Vancouver is between $1500 – $5000+ per month depending on the mentor/coaches experience and the time and energy they put into working with you.
  • How often would we meet? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for anywhere from 1-4 hours is the time commitment you can expect for face-to-face or on the phone mentoring. As well you should expect to have unlimited access to your mentor or coach between sessions by email or phone in case something time sensitive comes up that you really need some support on.
  • What will we talk about? Mentoring and coaching conversations span the complete spectrum from business, career, personal, and family. The primary focus is on your success as a business leader and as a human being – however you want to define that for yourself.
  • Why would I get a mentor or a coach? Because the very top performers in their field, regardless of what field that is (business, sports, medicine, law, etc.) all have mentors and coaches who help them stay ahead of the pack and ensure they put their energy, attention, and focus on the behaviours and actions that will lead to the success they are looking for.

Guest post: Sarah McNeill on Corporate Culture

How can I make people care?

[read time: less than 1 minute]

I received an email today from a CEO the other day asking me, “Do you have any good references / literature on ‘how to make people care’? I’m having some employee challenges.”

I thought I would share my response with you:

“Three ways:

1) hire people who care (it’s an attitudinal thing, not a training thing)
2) show a direct connection between success for them and why they should care
3) lobotomy – expensive and illegal but can dramatically shift innate personality traits. For examples of when this doesn’t work I suggest renting Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and yes, I know, that was a potion, not a lobotomy – you get the idea).

Motivation is not something people need to receive. It’s finding ways to remove the things that demotivate people that keeps them motivated (if you hire self-starters).”

Our leadership development philosophy

Over the past year I’m consistently asked to answer the question, “what is your overall leadership development philosophy?” I thought it would be helpful to put pen to paper and blog my answer. Our experience over the past 10 years working with thousands of senior leaders in medium to large organizations has led to some core tenets that consistently hold true. Over the past year I’ve written several posts that together sum up our leadership development philosophy. I’ve consolidated those here and added a few thoughts to round things off:

  1. Why most Leadership Development initiatives fail
  2. Interactive Business Learning Experiences™:
  3. Theory versus reality: many “leadership development consultants” have academic backgrounds but little to no practical experience in the trenches working at an executive level. Their approach is based on case studies and teaching theories. The challenge with this is the Grand Canyon sized gap that exists between theory and application. Having leaders who can “talk” about leadership but cannot clearly demonstrate in a tangible way (and by tangible I mean a way in which others can easily understand what they are doing and learn for the approach), leads to great theorists who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
  4. Three Core Areas of Leadership: The are actually three core areas of leadership that leaders need to become students of: leading self, leading other, leading organization. Most people only consider the second one, leading other, when considering how they can develop their core leadership skills.
  5. Authentic Leadership: Bill George in his talk at Google describes Authentic Leadership in a way that resonates with what our experience at ViRTUS.  Here are the five learnings from his hour long talk: leadership is about internal development and introspection (self-awareness) not how you create a perception for the public, know your values and what’s really important to you, it’s the sweet spot at the intersection of your greatest strengths and your greatest motivation, find a support team and mentors who you can be totally honest with and who can be totally honest with you, lead an integrated life by being the same person in all areas of my life (authenticity).
  6. Emotional Intelligence: The founding father of Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) in the workplace is Daniel Goleman. He developed the four main EI constructs as: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness (sometimes referred to as awareness of others), and relationship management. Our experience has shown us that by weaving these tenets into the background of the competencies we help leaders develop by showing them practical tools and techniques using everyday language, leaders can be coached much more rapidly into demonstrating changes in behaviour.
  7. Andragogy vs Pedagogy – the old school style of having a teacher stand at the front of the room and lecture to the students about a theory has been proven not only to be inefficient in helping adults learn, it’s also incredibly boring for the learner. The new style is collaborative, engaging, interactive, focused on opportunities and challenges they’re actually facing, accountability based (instead of memorizing), and open to failing as a key part of the learning process.
  8. Adult Experiential Learning Cycle
  9. Entrenching Learning
  10. Five Stages of Learning: There are five stages of learning that we grow through when absorbing a new concept literally from apathy to “this is just the way I do it”:  Unconscious incompetence – I don’t know what I don’t know, Conscious Incompetence – I know what I don’t know, Conscious Competence – I know what I know, Unconscious Competence – I don’t know what I know, Reflective or Enlightened Competence – I am aware that I don’t know what I know but I can shift back into conscious competence to teach someone else.
  11. How do you know it’s working?: The reality of transforming a business is fairly straightforward: if you can’t change a behaviour or a system within the business then everything stays the same. The easiest way to measure changes in behaviour is to witness them using the ViRTUS Video Test.

As always I welcome your comments, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m interested to hear what your personal experience has been in helping develop leaders within your organization.

PS Why post this on my blog where my competitors can see it? It was an easy decision. Even though people can cut and paste the words, they can’t match the results we provide and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.


Picture 1My friend Lewisa Anciano has worked with her business partner, Jacqui Noftall, to create one of the coolest new tools for growing companies that have small HR departments but not the systems required to handle their growing business: kickstarthr.com.  Basically for a few hundred dollars you can buy Recruitment, Performance Management, Engagement, or Succession Planning programs with all the forms, instructions, and setup pieces you need.

The entire package was built from the ground up by experienced HR professionals who have spent years developing their own systems internally. Basically you get to leverage all of their hard work!

If you own a growing business or are in the HR department, and you don’t have the resources you need (and find the thought of building them from scratch daunting), then this is probably the best product I’ve seen out there. There are over 70 comprehensive tools that require few modifications, and a ‘how-to’ guide that helps with successful implementation.

[note: I have no equity ownership or derive any compensation from kickstart – I’m just really impressed by it.]

Re-Post: Jeff Booth interviews Geoff Smart, Who: The A Method for Hiring

I read this post from Jeff Booth a few months back and it’s worth re-posting so here it is:

Talking with Geoff Smart, Author of Who: The A Method for Hiring

by JEFF BOOTH on OCTOBER 29, 2008

I recently read a book that is I think will go down as one of the business classics. It’s a must read for any business leader dedicated to superior performance.

The tiltle of the book is WHO: The A Method for Hiring. The premise is that most companies focus on the “what” rather than the “who” and that hiring A-players is the most important part of any leaders job.  A-players are the right superstar for the job, meaning that they not only have the skills to be successful but they also fit within the culture of the company.

I am a fellow YPOer with Geoff Smart, one of the authors.  So I thought I would make a connection with him and ask him a few questions about the book so I could share those thoughts with you.  I asked him:

The A Method for HiringWhat lead you to the Top Grading Approach and the writing of the book?

Mostly seeing what a big problem hiring is. We have a genuine interest in the solution and we thought there needed to be a very clear “How To” method for solving one of the biggest challenges of business.

In your estimation, how many companies truly practice Top Grading or hiring “A” players?

Less than 1% and this is true regardless of size. Typically, larger companies have more structure around the hiring process than smaller companies but in either case, the effectiveness is about the same.

Have you been able to develop a quantifiable business case for the “A” method?

Peter Druekers research from years ago suggests that 50% of hires are mistakes and there is recent research to support that the number has not changed much. For the book we took examples of companies that had 90% hiring success around “A” players and backed into what they do. When we applied the process to other companies we saw them increase from the baseline of 50% to 90% within a year. In our own firm, we have had 100% success in hiring “A” players.

How has your book been received?

It has been amazing.  It was the number one book in the world sold on Amazon for two weeks. It has been on the New York Times best sellers list since it came out. When Randy and I came up with the idea to write the book 3 years ago, we looked at the great books on my bookshelf and analyzed what they had in common. From that initial look we determined they had:

1) A topic people care about.

2) Real stories – exclusive examples

3) Science behind the research – it could not be just a gut feel.

4) A simple how-to method.

Overall, our conversation was very informative.

I have to admit that as I read through the book, there was some real pain for me as I have personally made many of the mistakes during the hiring process that Geoff and Randy talk about in their book.  It also became clear that their system is one that we could easily use to increase our effectiveness in bringing the right people to our growing team.

Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit

An interview with Bill Taylor, Game Changer blogger for HarvardBusiness.org. Zappos knows that they can’t deliver great customer service unless their employees are committed to the values of the company.They attempt to bride new employees to quit during the initial training.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit“, posted with vodpod