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Coaching for Growth: 5 High-Performing Coaching Activities I Learned at INBOUND 2017

Coaching for Growth: 5 High-Performing Coaching Activities I Learned at INBOUND 2017 Blog Feature

October 4th, 2017 min read

Like every other inbound marketer, I had been waiting for INBOUND17 much like my little ones wait for Christmas.

This was my third year attending (first year with IMPACT) and each visit, I have learned something new about the industry and even myself.

In the past, I sought out sessions about SEO, content, messaging, and the tactical applications of the strategies I was creating for my clients, but this year - oh, this year, I was on a new mission. 

My role here at IMPACT has grown and I’ve now found myself a bonafide leader. I’m humbled and thrilled to now be a Principal Strategist of the Puppy Pawed.

To help you understand, first, let me share how our service delivery team is structured.

Here at IMPACT, we work in PODs (I’m in Puppy Pawed).

Each POD consists of:
- Principal Strategist (team lead, coach, firefighter)
- 3-4 Strategists & Sr. Strategists (our rockstar client-facing account managers)
- Jr. Strategist (our rockstar client-facing account managers-in-training)
- Graphic Designer (UX/UI experts who help us create stunning visual content)
- Website Developer (wizards who make anything happen on the web)

From Client-Focused to Team-Focused

My entire career until this point has been almost completely client-focused. While every role in a service-based business really is ultimately client-focused, since joining IMPACT, I’ve learned that not every role will do that in the same way.

During a particularly enjoyable conversation with our new COO, Chris Duprey, he shared that he solves for our clients by first solving for our team. I thought about his words for weeks after that and I realized how much I respected his role, both as an employee of IMPACT and as a champion for my clients.

I’m grateful for this conversation because very shortly afterward, I moved into this new role as a Principal Strategist.

This new position that seems minor when all you see is the word 'principal' in front of 'strategist,' but is actually a fairly drastic change in my professional focus.

I am a pitbull when it comes to delivering for my clients. I have and will run through brick walls and any impediments in my way to solve for them. This is an excellent skill and has served me well, but I quickly learned that is really no longer my job.

My job is now team’s success.

Whoa.

It is now my sole responsibility to solve for my clients, by first, solving for my team. 

This is the natural and wanted next step in my professional growth and to be honest, probably the biggest opportunity I’ll have to grow yet.

Three weeks in and I’ve already learned there are a lot of transferable learned skills when shifting to be team-focused from client-focused, but there are also a lot of new soft skills that I’ll need to learn.

Thankfully, I have Brie Rangel, Chris Duprey, and Bob Ruffolo to help me navigate this and develop myself as an effective and respected leader.

But, back to INBOUND.

I went into the conference hungry for insights and tactics to start implementing as a new leader. I ended up sitting in a session by Bill Eckstrom, CEO of EcSell Institute called "Coaching for Growth." 

In his session, I had my first ‘aha’ moment about being a coach versus being a manager.

Coaching vs. Managing

Bill made a statement that helped me really understand the importance of the leader/coach on a team. His point was when a (enter your favorite sport here) team isn’t performing, the coach is fired and replaced -- not the team.

He also noted that companies allocate significantly more resources to hiring the best talent, keeping them happy, and supporting them than they do in building great leaders. The success of any organization rests very much with the leadership in place.

I’ve managed work for years. I know how to scale down a large project into epics, sprints (for you agile marketers out there), and can implement nearly any aspect of them, but I’ve never had to coach.

Now, I’m learning what it means to coach a team instead of managing the work.

Bill’s session was very informative and he shared 5 activities coaches of high-performing teams do and more importantly what the outcomes of them doing it are. Here are some pretty staggering and impressive stats: 

  • 65% of employees would rather have a new boss than a pay raise
  • High-performing teams with coaches reach 110% of goal, versus 92% of goal reached by non-coached teams
  • These same teams drive $4.1m more revenue than their counterparts

These are not fluff, feel-good metrics. Coaching (and coaching well) has real measurable business impact!

As an action-oriented human being and wanting to reach 110% of my team's goal, I wanted to know HOW they did it. Thankfully, he shared these five steps. 

5 Steps to Coaching a High-Performing Team

1. Actually Having One-to-One Meetings

This one seems pretty straightforward. You can’t give feedback if you’re not actually communicating, but after polling their 70k database, EcSell found that only 60% of scheduled one-to-ones ever happen. That’s a failing grade.

It’s not always comfortable providing direct feedback, but if you’re not meeting, then you can’t begin to develop a relationship that makes the sharing of feedback more palatable.

Your top-performing employees are craving feedback. Give it to them. Your underperforming employees require the feedback. Give it to them.

My calendar's priorities are quickly changing. One-to-ones cannot be pushed because of fires anymore. This is my job. And if you’re a coach, it’s also your job.

2. Documented Career Path Plans

Do you know the career path for every single person who reports to you?

If not, then you (and I) have some work to do.

As a coach, it is our job to know where they want to be, what they need to get there and help them achieve that. Whether it’s short-term improvements or long-term dreams, how can we support a team if we don’t know their path?

Here at IMPACT, we have well-defined career paths. We know what it takes to get to each step, but what if their best next step isn’t in your company? It doesn’t matter. Define it together.

I plan on creating career paths with each member of my team and using that to guide our coaching sessions, goal setting calls, and which resources I find to help them.

3. Team Meetings

Ugh, one more meeting right?

Wrong.

The most important meeting on your calendar is the one where your entire team comes together. Especially as a company with remote employees, we need to treat the time we spend together as reverent.

The people sitting around the figurative table during your team members have the most impact on success. Both as a team and individually.

We’re an agile team, so we have weekly retros where we all come together and discuss what we liked/didn’t like about our last sprint.

I’m encouraged and motivated to find ways to facilitate more open and constructive retros - allowing us to be vulnerable to each other and taking ownership in our collective success.

If you don’t currently have a regularly scheduled team meeting - open a new tab and get that scheduled.

4. Joint Call Plans

I really loved this piece of advice.

As the more senior person on a call, it can be really easy to not know which role to play and end up taking over. Before going into a call with your team, don’t leave the outcome to fate. Meet before, discuss the plan, and ASK what your role should be.

This was a “duh” moment for me, but it was huge.

I want to encourage my team to solve and take ownership of their clients, but they can't-do that if I am always jumping in and solving for them.

5. Call Evaluations

Feedback is best served immediately. Bill shared that by listening on the calls and meetings that you’re no longer talking in (see #4) and instead, take notes, you’ll have better feedback to give after the end of the meeting.

Praise in public, correct in private.

Don’t interrupt a meeting to share what you notice, but take those notes and as soon as possible after the meeting, grab 15-minutes to debrief.

Keep Learning

Are you a new leader or coach? Have you found that your methods are no longer effective? Just as I shared what I learned about being a good coach, I’ve learned that everyone needs one!

Whether it’s a mentor, boss, or someone you hire - get a coach!

In the meantime, come join our Facebook group, IMPACT Elite filled with extremely talented marketers and leaders. Share and learn from our collaboration!

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