Most of today’s business leaders recognize that it takes a complement of talents to succeed in business. World leaders, Fortune 500 CEO’s, elite professional athletes and even champion NBA and NFL coaches rely on professional coaching to find and reach their fullest potential.
The same is true in business. Business coaches can help you see previously unseen opportunities, develop clear but ambitious plans, manage challenging change and obstacles and achieve never before reached results. As importantly, they can keep you accountable and focused while they help you to see and believe in your own greatness.
The beginning of the year is an excellent time for honest evaluation and deep reflection of where you are and creating a vision of where you want to be in 2024. It is also a time of decision, can you do it alone or do you need support?
Here are the top 10 signs to know it is time for you to hire a business coach.
1. You are new to your team; or, you have one or more new leaders on the team.
Onboarding senior leaders is a critical process that very few companies do well. This is especially true if the leader is coming from the outside or has to “grow into the position”. That is a key reason why so many senior executives hired from the outside do not succeed. Studies suggest that one-third to one-half of all new chief executives fail within the first eighteen months.
Managing the first 100 day and first year plans requires learning the business, developing key internal and external relationships, creating team chemistry and establishing a consistent pattern of achievement. It all starts with having a clear strategic plan.
New senior executives can benefit greatly from having a coach who can be both a guide and an accountability partner during this critical initial period to assure that the goals of these important onboarding activities remain a priority while successfully conducting day-to-day business.
2. Your team(s) are not executing; you need better organization and discipline.
Your role as a leader is to build better team dynamics and establish a high performance culture within your company or group. If your team is not meeting its numbers, your people may not have clearly defined goals and effective accountability and recognition processes in place.
Your team will be able to achieve more on their own when goal setting, performance management and accountability meetings are permanent practices. What you need most right now is to install the necessary day-to-day programs to improve your team’s performance, level of commitment and sense of ownership.
A one-time “Rah! Rah!” team-building offsite before returning to business as usual is often tried and usually fails. You need a longer term process that has staying power.
What you may need to get the best results is a leadership coach who knows best practices and has seen them work well elsewhere.
3. You need a new strategic plan or a better way to communicate it to the organization.
Do you have a clearly defined mission and strategy that your employees understand and embrace? Do they each understand their role in supporting it?
Many small and mid-sized companies do not have formal planning processes that involve their key employees in helping set the direction for the business. If they do, they often fail to communicate these plans and strategies throughout the organization. When the employees don’t understand and embrace the plan, they can’t support it.
Some companies do not even share their performance results with their employees. It is hard to expect your employees to feel inspired and passionate about the business if they are kept in the dark. It is also difficult to keep the entire organization aligned against the same set of strategic priorities.
Studies show that written business plans with clearly stated goals significantly increase your potential for success, especially when they are broadly communicated.
The best leadership coaches are equipped with proven programs, methodologies and tools to elevate team effectiveness and achieve sustainable performance even in challenging times, starting with building and communicating successful plans.
4. Your employees are not fully engaged; hidden issues are undermining your culture.
A high employee turnover rate is an obvious indicator that your associates are not happy and that you are at risk of losing key talent.
But, little to no turnover can also be a warning sign. In overly employee-centric environments people may stay because they are driven by personal loyalty rather than inspired to achieve lofty goals, or more comfortable working with people like themselves rather than committed to personal growth and improvement.
Your culture can become stale and be holding you back. Group think can set in whereby everyone has been there so long that they are used to a “This is the way we have always done it” mindset. Companies, like people, can develop limiting beliefs that often lie below the surface despite all the posters and tee shirts celebrating your mission statement and Company values.
A coach can be a very safe and powerful way to introduce a change agent who can, in a non-personal and non-confrontational way, elevate awareness, identify hidden agendas and obstacles, and develop realistic solutions.
5. You need to scale up to grow but your systems, processes and other business practices are holding you back.
Successful start-ups will usually reach the point when in order to expand into new products, services, and markets they must deploy new strategies and introduce new technologies, systems, processes and practices. This usually entails a more structured organization with employees learning to execute on a daily basis without the direct involvement of senior leadership.
The role of senior leadership also changes as they are required to spend more time ON the business – strategic planning, recruiting and developing talent, and building organizational capability, infrastructure, culture and the like – and less time IN the business directly engaged in serving customers.
These transitions are challenging as they involve the introduction of new ways of doing business and normally require the recruitment of new talent and expertise. It usually also demands a change in behavior throughout. The use of outside advisors will often make these transitions much more successful.
6. You are planning to make a major change in the business.
There are established methods for making policy changes, organization changes, installing new systems, processes or business practices or any other change that will impact all or large groups of employees or other stakeholders. They can help you to proactively involve employees, communicate expectations, provide training and counsel, and use metrics effectively to measure success.
Many larger companies set up PMO’s (Program Management Offices) with professionals that specialize in overseeing large development and change initiatives. Smaller companies cannot afford that necessary full time luxury; but, they should consider outsourcing it.
The right outside professional can often bring the necessary project management discipline to help assure that the changes you desire are embraced and supported by your employees and are fully implemented.
7. You do not have good reporting and feel like you are flying blind.
Do you know whether you are hitting your numbers? How well do you even know your numbers?
The old adage “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” has never been more true.
Good management reporting is a business fundamental. It facilitates communication, decision-making, action-taking, resource allocation and organizational alignment.
Some companies have myriad KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), dashboards, and real-time reporting; other companies may use simpler one-page scorecards. There is no one right answer; but, it is critical that your key players are getting the appropriate amount of accurate, timely and relevant information to gauge their success.
If you don’t have good reporting in place, it is time to get some outside help to implement it.
8. You are planning to retire and need to groom a successor.
Grooming the right successor for the CEO is one of the most important responsibilities of any CEO and Board of Directors. This is normally done years in advance in the most forward-looking companies; but it is a critical consideration in all businesses.
Preparing the next generation of leaders with the right education, training and experience for their future leadership positions requires careful planning and proper objective oversight.
This process can be particularly challenging in private or family-owned businesses dealing with a generational change in leadership. In these environments it can often be difficult to separate the personal from the professional.
An independent coach can help assure that succession plans are fair, collaborative and preserve cherished values and culture. The right coach can also be a useful mentor to the retiring executive and potential successors.
9. You plan to sell the business; or, you plan to merge with another business.
Smart property owners prepare to sell their homes well in advance by getting advice on what upgrades and improvements will bring maximum value and help their homes “show” better. The same is true of selling a business.
In fact, many enlightened companies are building their business with a mind’s eye toward its eventual sale whether that be in one year, five years or twenty years.
If you are a privately-owned company preparing to sell to a public entity or go public yourself, an altogether different level of preparation may be required.
Conversely, when you are looking to expand through acquisition or merger, there are very different considerations. The most important are assessing strategic, operational, organizational and cultural fit. Post-acquisition integration of the acquired business is often a major change effort unto itself.
Both the selling and purchase/merger transitions can be very taxing on an organization of any size and take many months (or even years) from early planning to completion involving multiple outside M&A professionals. Adding a coach to your team who is experienced in these processes can help you achieve your goals while staying in control of the process and outside experts.
10. You are overwhelmed and functioning as the Chief of Everything Officer.
Are you under-resourced or supported by the wrong resources? Or, do you have trouble delegating and prioritizing? Do you like being directly involved in everything because you can do it better than anyone else or just like to have it done your way?
These are important questions as many CEO’s function as Chief of Everything Officers which results in lack of focus both individually and organizationally. This kind of CEO ends up being a bottleneck that limits everyone’s performance.
When leaders prefer to do things themselves and are more comfortable managing details instead of leading; and worst of all, don’t see the difference, it is time to get coaching support.
Being the Chief Of Everything Officer usually means you need better balance in your life.
When was the last time you took a real vacation? Had a date night with your spouse? Attended one of your kid’s soccer games? Do you forget birthdays? Do you remember the name of your family dog?
Working all the time leads to burn-out and unhappiness. Overworked executives seldom lead happy high-performing organizations. It may be time to survey your employees and see how they feel. It may also be time for that long overdue vacation and to hire a coach.
Research by the International Coach Federation has shown that, of small business owners that have hired a business coach, 70% have seen increased work performance, 86% have seen a favorable return on investment and an impressive 99% were happy that they hired a business coach.
If you are facing one or more of these signs I have an opportunity for you.
Arrange for a complimentary business strategy session with me.
During our session we will discuss exactly what you and your organization need to reach your goals in 2024. DM me or e-mail me at Sean.Orr@Companionsforleadership.com for more info.
About the Author:
Sean F. Orr is a business coach and strategic consultant engaged in senior executive level coaching, leadership team development and a range of change management advisory roles. A former CFO and C-level leader at PepsiCo, Frito-Lay and KPMG among others, he has advised CEO’s and C-Suite executives of global Fortune 500 companies and has led several successful start-ups. He is associated with Companions for Leadership, a global leadership consultancy, and LDV Elite, a privately-owned consultancy.