Coaching for performance and productivity

Due to the changing demographics of the business world, organizations are discovering that traditional management tactics are no longer enough to remain competitive. Coaching is becoming recognized and practiced as an effective tool to increase morale, performance and the bottom line through the success of each individual associate.

For example, studies have shown that about 90 percent of employees who received coaching in their jobs say that it improved their job performance and professional success. In organizations where coaching is effectively practiced as a management style, the bottom-line performance is two to three times better than the traditional command-and-control type of organizations.

Furthermore, it has been proven that employee commitment increases when there is a strong, positive relationship between the manager and his/her employees. These relationships are developed best as a result of effective coaching.

Effective relationship-oriented coaching creates more knowledgeable and competent employees, reduces errors and rework, and greatly assists in bringing new changes to the culture. Both effective and ineffective managers tend to know what makes a good coach — the difference lies in being able to translate knowledge into successful actions to increase employees’ performance and success.

So what is coaching? Simply stated, coaching is about developing a trusting relationship with your employees so you can jointly clarify expectations and departmental goals, thereby leading to specific action plans for achievement. There are many situations where coaching skills are very effective.

  • Reinforcing good performance
  • Motivating employees to new heights and peak performance levels
  • Orienting a new employee into the department or organization
  • Teaching individuals about changes and tactics
  • Training for a new skill
  • Following up on competencies passed on during training
  • Explaining standards and how they can be achieved
  • Setting priorities for effective time management
  • Inculcating someone into the cliques and groups
  • Clarifying expectations and correcting poor performance
  • Increasing the self-confidence of an employee about a task or new responsibilities and challenges
  • Conducting a performance review

Effective coaching is the process of letting people know that what they do matters to you and to the organization. Furthermore, it is about letting them know that you are there to help them be the best they can be. The following list summarizes some of the main elements involved in coaching.

  • Before beginning the coaching session, be sure to plan exactly what you want to achieve and the potential benefits for the other person.
  • Start on a positive note and establish a common ground by having a supportive environment.
  • Communicate clearly, listen effectively, show that you care and do not beat around the bush.
  • Be respectful of the other person’s feelings, honor and dignity.
  • Be culturally sensitive by getting to know the other person’s background and values.
  • Avoid value judgments, stereotyping and labeling the behavior of others.
  • Use empathic listening skills to clarify your understanding and the other person’s perspective.
  • Stay with the point and do not get sidetracked with other issues. Restate the purpose of the session and ask what specific things can be done to increase or improve performance. You can offer assistance but avoid providing solutions — let the individual come up with the solutions.
  • Document and clarify the specific plan suggested by the employee, the expected level of performance and how the plan will improve performance. Seek agreement and summarize the conversation.
  • End on a positive note and thank the person for coming up with the specific plan.

Bahaudin Mujtaba, DBA., is an associate professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently authored a book about “The Art of Mentoring Diverse Professionals” by Aglob Publishing. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].

Coaching for performance and productivity

Due to the changing demographics of the business world, organizations are discovering that traditional management tactics are no longer enough to remain competitive. Coaching is becoming recognized and practiced as an effective tool to increase morale, performance and the bottom line through the success of each individual associate.

For example, studies have shown that about 90 percent of employees who received coaching in their jobs say that it improved their job performance and professional success. In organizations where coaching is effectively practiced as a management style, the bottom-line performance is two to three times better than the traditional command-and-control type of organizations.

Furthermore, it has been proven that employee commitment increases when there is a strong, positive relationship between the manager and his/her employees. These relationships are developed best as a result of effective coaching.

Effective relationship-oriented coaching creates more knowledgeable and competent employees, reduces errors and rework, and greatly assists in bringing new changes to the culture. Both effective and ineffective managers tend to know what makes a good coach — the difference lies in being able to translate knowledge into successful actions to increase employees’ performance and success.

So what is coaching? Simply stated, coaching is about developing a trusting relationship with your employees so you can jointly clarify expectations and departmental goals, thereby leading to specific action plans for achievement. There are many situations where coaching skills are very effective.

  • Reinforcing good performance
  • Motivating employees to new heights and peak performance levels
  • Orienting a new employee into the department or organization
  • Teaching individuals about changes and tactics
  • Training for a new skill
  • Following up on competencies passed on during training
  • Explaining standards and how they can be achieved
  • Setting priorities for effective time management
  • Inculcating someone into the cliques and groups
  • Clarifying expectations and correcting poor performance
  • Increasing the self-confidence of an employee about a task or new responsibilities and challenges
  • Conducting a performance review

Effective coaching is the process of letting people know that what they do matters to you and to the organization. Furthermore, it is about letting them know that you are there to help them be the best they can be. The following list summarizes some of the main elements involved in coaching.

  • Before beginning the coaching session, be sure to plan exactly what you want to achieve and the potential benefits for the other person.
  • Start on a positive note and establish a common ground by having a supportive environment.
  • Communicate clearly, listen effectively, show that you care and do not beat around the bush.
  • Be respectful of the other person’s feelings, honor and dignity.
  • Be culturally sensitive by getting to know the other person’s background and values.
  • Avoid value judgments, stereotyping and labeling the behavior of others.
  • Use empathic listening skills to clarify your understanding and the other person’s perspective.
  • Stay with the point and do not get sidetracked with other issues. Restate the purpose of the session and ask what specific things can be done to increase or improve performance. You can offer assistance but avoid providing solutions — let the individual come up with the solutions.
  • Document and clarify the specific plan suggested by the employee, the expected level of performance and how the plan will improve performance. Seek agreement and summarize the conversation.
  • End on a positive note and thank the person for coming up with the specific plan.

Bahaudin Mujtaba, DBA., is an associate professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently authored a book about “The Art of Mentoring Diverse Professionals” by Aglob Publishing. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].

Workplace rumors and conflicts

Philosopher Blaise Pascal once said, “Never speak well of yourself.” It is better to let one’s actions, as a leader, do the talking.

Actions speak louder than words and a leader’s overall behavior will certainly communicate much about his or her character to others than anything he or she says.

Sharing information with others is a fact of life and spreading misinformation with others is also a reality, especially when there is distrust and unease due to job insecurity, layoffs, bribery and other such actions. As such, it is necessary that educated individuals not spread misinformation about leaders, politicians or colleagues in the work force.

Leaders can benefit from the wisdom of Socrates. Perhaps one can use the following story to take a stand and hopefully influence others to stop and think about the spoken word and its impact on others.

The triple filter test
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the triple filter test.”

“Triple filter?” said the acquaintance.

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. The second filter is the filter of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

“No, on the contrary…” the man replied.

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one more filter left. The third one is the filter of usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really,” said the man.

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, then why tell it to me at all?”

Rumors, which seem to flow often among people, should be stopped and corrected instead of spread, especially when they have no reality but can damage an individual’s reputation or morale in the department.

It is a moral imperative for leaders to always make sure what they say is true, good and useful before it is passed on to others.

Resolving conflict
During an interpersonal conflict with a team member or colleague, one can, and should, remain focused on stating the facts, their feelings and future expectations, rather attacking the other person.

For example, when hearing an offensive comment or joke about minorities or women in the workplace, one can immediately use the 3-F model (facts, feelings and future expectations) by calmly saying, “When you make comments like that about women, I feel angry and disappointed because they are false and inappropriate in the workplace. Please don’t make comments like that again.”

In most cases, the 3-F model would take care of the situation. The person is likely to either clarify the misunderstanding, or change his or her behavior.

Of course, if the candid discussion based on the 3-F model does not work, then one must take appropriate actions to inform the organization. After all, the best way to resolve conflict is to seek cooperation from all parties involved and to create a win-win solution for everyone.

Bahaudin Mujtaba, D.B.A., is an Assistant Professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently co-authored a business ethics textbook published by Pearson Custom Publications. He can be reached at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].

The art of mentoring

Mentoring is a continuous process of sharing relevant information with selected people that can maximize the success of an institution, while guiding and supporting each person toward individual and collective achievement opportunities.

Mentoring is a developmental, caring, sharing and helping relationship where the mentor helps the mentee.

A mentor can be a person who offers knowledge, insight, perspective or wisdom that is helpful to another person in a relationship that goes beyond duty or obligation. A mentor creates opportunities for exposure, provides challenging and educational assignments, and serves as a role model and adviser to the mentee. Such relationships often evolve informally, but managers can encourage and formalize them.

Effective mentoring requires listening, caring and other forms of involvement between mentors and mentees. According to experts, mentoring is often used to achieve the interests of special groups and populations, conserve and transfer special know-how, encourage mentee contributions, bring employees together in a new social environment, help people reach their full potential, enhance the competitive position of a person or department and develop better relationships around the globe.

Mentoring is a collaborative effort on the part of the mentor and the mentee. Effective mentoring is a relationship built on trust, in which the mentee confides personal information and characteristics to the mentor and the mentor guides the mentee toward growth and learning opportunities. A good mentoring program is usually focused on specific learning objectives, in which both the mentor and mentee receive training.

There are many deliverables originating from a mentoring program, including easier recruitment of the best talent, more rapid induction of new recruits, improved staff retention, improved opportunities, performance and diversity management, increased effectiveness of formal training, reinforcement of cultural change, improved networking and communication, and reinforcement of other learning initiatives.

Successful organizations recognize the value of mentoring programs as an effective way to address diversity, manage organizational knowledge, retain stellar performers and prepare for succession. Many organizations have found benefits in mentoring individuals from underrepresented groups, specifically women, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans and African Americans, in the fields of business and education.

According to experts, there are many roles that professional mentors play, including teacher or tutor, coach, friend, counselor, information source, nurturer, adviser, networker, advocate and role model.

Regardless of the mentoring location, highly effective mentors and leaders share some of the same characteristics. They:

  • Are experienced and respected in the field
  • Have current knowledge
  • Are trustworthy, confident and show high self-efficacy
  • Use transformational leadership skills
  • Willingly share their knowledge and guide others
  • Remain approachable
  • Have great passion for their work
  • Know what to communicate, how to communicate, when to communicate and how to help improve the mentee
  • Connect well and challenge mentees to reach their full potential
  • Get extraordinary results using a variety of skills to get their points across and to bring about the needed behavioral changes in their mentees

The goal of a mentoring program should be to help leaders, managers, coaches and senior employees in a firm become highly skilled, self-aware, inclusive, energetic and creative, and to carry a zest for mentoring into the organization every day. Mentoring is not an easy task, but such is the obligation bestowed on the lucky ones.

Highly effective mentors and leaders understand that developing others requires self-reflection, sensitivity, risk-taking, interdependency and teamwork among all parties (mentors, mentees, managers, peers and senior officers). They also understand that such a synergy requires forging a partnership, inspiring commitment, growing both the mentor’s and mentee’s skills, promoting persistency and shaping the environment so all parties can achieve their goals.

Bahaudin Mujtaba, D.B.A., is an assistant professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently authored a 2005 book entitled “The Art of Mentoring Diverse Professionals” published by Aglob Publishing. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].

Cost and quality

Online education is the buzz of the decade. But it is not for everyone, and it requires getting used to the technology. Adult students can and should be selective in choosing a graduate program because master’s of business administration (MBA) programs at a private school can cost from $15,000 to more than $100,000.

As schools move beyond their main campuses to offer programs nationwide, the business of higher education has become very competitive. In South Florida alone, students can choose from more than 30 universities and colleges to complete various degrees. Many of the top schools offer the complete MBA program online, taught by many of the same faculty members who teach in the traditional programs at the main campuses.

Accordingly, the quality and outcomes achieved are likely to be the same for all programs. Research comparing student outcomes between online and on-ground classes demonstrate that there is learning equivalency between the two modalities.

There are different types of Internet-based courses.

First, there are distance learning programs, which are supplemented by the use of Internet technologies as a support mechanism, as opposed to being the primary medium of delivery.

Second, there is the computer conferencing medium, in which the Internet is the primary delivery utilizing asynchronous discussions and e-mails. Finally, there is the virtual course, in which all or most aspects of the course are delivered online.

Some universities, such as the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, allow students to complete all their course requirements online, but they may also choose to take some or all of their courses on-ground.

Virtual classes have a teacher or facilitator directing discussions, submitting assignments and providing weekly feedback to students. Experienced and skilled online educators use colorful graphics, audio and video streams, and hypertext links to enhance the learning experience.

Online, adult students are expected to be actively involved in the knowledge generation process, as well as interact regularly with the instructor and their colleagues about the material being taught. Faculty members make the difference in student learning because their facilitation skills can either be exciting or boring.

Online faculty members tend to involve students through formal and informal facilitation, because that is what leads to real learning. As such, the faculty serves as a facilitator in the learning process, as is the case in on-ground sessions.

When choosing a graduate online program, prospective students should:

1. Assess their learning styles, preferences and interests.

2. Assemble a list of programs that are likely to best meet those needs.

3. Learn about the credentials of the faculty and their teaching philosophy to see if they match or accommodate their dominant learning style.

4. Interview the school’s administrators and advisers to determine student services offerings and the level of technical assistance offered to online students.

5. Determine each program’s graduation and employability rates, as well as the program’s overall rankings.

6. Spend more time with the programs that look the most attractive to understand the school, its culture and its overall quality.

7. Select a program that best matches their needs and that provides helpful information to make sure students are able to finish the program in a reasonable time period.

Because students have many choices in today’s competitive environment, schools must also understand students’ needs and offer them the appropriate tools so they successfully use today’s cyberspace technologies.

Of course, virtual courses are likely to require students and faculty members to have the latest computer hardware and updated user skills, so if you are not technologically competent, stick with traditional classes for the time being and quickly update yourself with computers, Internet surfing and uploading and downloading files in cyberspace, because online education will, at some point, be part of your learning experience.

BAHAUDIN MUJTABA, D.B.A., is an assistant professor and the director of institutional relations, planning and accreditation for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently co-authored a business ethics textbook published by Pearson Custom Publications. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or [email protected].