How to choose a guide who'll help your organization refocus

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Alex Vorobieff.

 

Growing your business and leading your organization often feel like climbing a mountain. If you know you are not making progress, that sinking feeling sets in.

I felt that way in 2006, when I was running an aviation services company for one of my clients who had recently purchased it. Two of our large customers went bankrupt on the same day, and we were experiencing huge losses. I was ready to tear out my hair in frustration. I needed some help to transform the company. I needed a guide.

In my process of finding and working with a coach -- my guide -- I learned many valuable lessons. I also learned that many other CEOs have relied on a coach to successfully help them develop plans, review progress and realign their organizations to create companywide change.

These CEOs didn’t try to climb a mountain by themselves. Transforming and even just growing your business is a big mountain to climb. Deciding who can help you implement alignment to ensure your entire organization is on the same page is as important as deciding which tools to use.

The same starting line

There are different types of coaches and systems out there, each with different styles. You need a guide who understands and can work with where you are on your starting line.

If you have the right guide on your journey, he or she can reduce the amount of time you need to climb the mountain. An experienced guide -- who has climbed in the conditions you are facing -- has seen what can go wrong and will prepare you to keep striving forward. A good guide watches your progress and provides objective feedback, helping you to confront reality.

Remember, your guide is not going to do the work for you. You can’t outsource the thinking and dialogue necessary to make the tough decisions. The goal here is to find the coach who is going to successfully work his or her way out of a job.

Evaluate

Once you have gathered a few names from your trusted advisors like your CPA or peers (not just the last consultant you heard speak at an event), it’s time to evaluate the candidates.

To do so, check out their toolboxes, and take note of the questions they ask and how they answer your questions.

To get a sense of how much a coach relies on a set style or is open to the right tool for your specific needs, ask what tools and processes he or she uses and why. These questions provide insight into how the coach handles different issues. You want to get behind the coach’s presentation and see how the person thinks and how much he or she has absorbed through trial and error.

The other key thing when evaluating a coach is determining if he or she has dealt with the challenges you and your team are likely to face. Look for the right kind of experience by asking prospective coaches about their past challenging projects. Here are examples of questions to ask:

  • Can you give an example of team challenges you have helped other clients navigate?
  • How did they deal with challenges?
  • What did they learn?
  • How have they adapted their styles based on challenges and feedback?
  • How have they evolved their process over the years? 

Be wary if your questions are answered only with how great their system is and how it can solve all your problems. If it starts to sound like the system is unsinkable, it reminds me of a quote from Capt. Edward Smith of the Titanic: “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”

The right guide can make all the difference. Take the time to select the right one for you.

Once you have selected the best coach with the best tools, you are ready to set out on your journey to transform your company from the inside-out.

 

Alex Vorobieff is a business-turnaround specialist, working with businesses to implement business alignment tools for their specific needs, with measurable results in as little as three months. He shares his how-tos and techniques through Confident ROi magazine and his latest book, "Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back."

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mails on leadership and management or any of our more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.