Building Empathy – The Key to an Organization’s Success

As coaches, we all know the key to change often lies in perspective shift. But how do we invite people to invest in the task?

Five-time former CEO Margaret Heffernan points to strengthening the empathy muscle. In order to develop this, a leader has any number of choices – from encouraging collective coffee breaks, to assigning the production of a short video that introduces an unrelated (and unfamiliar) division of the organization to a company-wide audience.

Read her full piece to learn how building social capital is the key to building “an effective, efficient organization.”

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Forward Your Goals With One Simple Question

Whether it’s the holidays, the impending New Year, or simply the idea that one chapter is ending as another begins, we all want our lives to keep improving, to keep moving forward for the better.

So before we wrap up this year, I leave you with just one question, with which to end this chapter on the right note and propel yourself forward anew. Ask yourself:

What one thing I can do today to forward my goal to ______ (move my business forward, progress toward a financial goal, improve my health, etc.)?”

If you ask yourself this question each day (and then of course, do that one thing), you’ll be celebrating your success in no time at all!

P.S. Don’t forget: this is also a great question to use at the end of a coaching session. And your clients will thank you for expediting their success, too!

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Infographic: Top 7 Marketing Musts for Success

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Affordable Market Research for Coaches

Too often I see coaches release a product or service without doing adequate market research beforehand. This can lead to dismay and disappointment when sales don’t roll in as expected.

Traditionally, creating your own consumer testing panel or hiring a marketing research firm was pricey. Online research panel services, however, are changing this picture by allowing you to get nearly immediate, focused responses tailored to your target market.

GutCheck* is one such service, offering both one-on-one chats with prospective consumers and the ability to form “instant research communities” (the equivalent of an online research panel). You can test product concepts, advertising messages, consumer attitudes and more, with this small-business-friendly process.

Alternately, you can always round up your own panel of “testers.” Frequently, members of your own mailing list are willing to give you their opinion – especially with an incentive, like a product/service discount or a “beta” version of a product you’re creating.

Either way, it pays to discover “who’s interested in what” before you invest resources in your next lucrative venture. Doing your market-research due diligence informs how lucrative your venture is poised to be.

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Contracts: What’s In YOUR Agreement?

Many coaches ask each client to sign an agreement before launching their coaching journey. In this document, most at least cover the basics: frequency and duration of sessions, as well as the negotiated fee for services.

But just as often, coaches get caught in thorny situations that could have been avoided, had they spelled out some clear policies.

For example, consider the following:

  • How often are you willing to be contacted for “tune-ups” between scheduled calls?
  • Do you prefer to be contacted between sessions by phone, email, or some other means?
  • How late can a client be before you consider a session “missed?” Will you allow them to make up a missed session? If so, for how long?

These and other “sticking points” have the potential to become full-blown problems, if they aren’t addressed in advance. And if they’ve yet to come up between you and your clients, chances are, it’s only a matter of time!

Here are some ideas to help you create an agreement that “covers your bases:”

  1. Make a list of potentially difficult or awkward logistical situations you’d like your agreement to address:
    • Think through your own experience and make note of preventable situations that have surfaced between you and your clients
    • Brainstorm potentially difficult or awkward scenarios you imagine could happen
    • Consult colleagues to see what issues have come up for them
  2. Get clear on your position for each issue on your list
  3. Put your policies in writing (create your agreement)
  4. Get your client to send you a signed and dated copy of your agreement before your first session
  5. Attach your signature and return a mutually-signed copy of that agreement to the client

With a little forethought, many coach-client predicaments can be avoided. That said, it’s tempting to assume what hasn’t happened yet won’t happen down the road. Being clear from the outset often means the difference between a dissatisfied (or even lost) client and a harmonious coach-client partnership.

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Thorny Situation: The Unprepared Client

So, your clients complete a prep form, and you emphasize the importance of being prepared in your design sessions. Yet this particular client comes to her sessions, week after week, without a clue as to what she wants coaching around.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common experience for coaches. The good news is that it’s easily addressed. First, “cover your bases” by making sure all of your clients know:

  1. why completing a prep form is crucial to the coaching process, and
  2. that they’ll get much more from the call if they arrive with a topic in mind.

Once you’ve covered these fundamentals, it’s time to dig a little deeper. When a client shows up unprepared, try the following “catalysts:” Read the rest of this entry »

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