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One on One Executive Coaching

Written By: Deborah Gavello

As seen in The Findley Reports Volume 29, Edition 5

Executive coaching in the United States has become an estimated one billion dollar business, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. It comes as no surprise that banks are now "cashing in" on this service. The article states, "Coaching remains as much art as science, best practiced by individuals with acute perception, diplomacy, sound judgment, and the ability to navigate conflicts with integrity. Perhaps the most important qualifications are character and insight, distilled as much from the coach’s personal experience as from formal training."

Many banks invest in training their employees; however, leave out the most important element- the follow up and individual coaching. The objective of any type of training is to change behaviors and learn new skills. The follow up and coaching process typically takes six to nine months. Typically, a coach meets with an individual to assist him/her with the application and reinforcement of new skills and behaviors. These could be new skills or ones that were once taught in a classroom setting.

Since the stakes are higher for the more advanced positions within a company, the top executives typically will receive the greatest benefits from one-on-one coaching and follow-up. Executives are usually the least likely to ask for help in any classroom environment. In many cases, the executives do not attend group training as to avoid intimating the troops. This being said, this group of individuals need the training, and definitely need the follow up coaching required for them to change for the better. Consequently, it is difficult to lead troops if the General hasn’t gone through boot camp.

Whatever the size of your bank, every executive can benefit from coaching. Some of the benefits of executive coaching include improvements in the following areas:

• Job satisfaction
• Relationships with peers
• Productivity
• Communication skills
• Teamwork
• Relationships with direct reports
• Leadership skills
• Listening skills
• Sales skills

Many of the most respected companies in the world are contributing to the one billion dollars being spent on executive coaching, and community banks are stepping in line to do the same.

Where does one start with executive coaching? The Harvard Business Review author suggests that in order to produce results, coaching goals should be measurable. I agree with this, and would add that coaching should be contracted for minimum of a half day per individual, over a period of a minimum of six months. It takes time to change behaviors, and the older one gets the harder it is to change set patterns.

Furthermore, I recommend making a list of the areas that need immediate attention. Think of it as a development plan for you and for your executives. Focus on the top three areas in which you would like to see improvements. Find an intelligent, honest, upfront coach that meshes well with your team, and set up a plan for this person to work individually as well as with the group. One of the key factors in good coaching is that the chemistry between a coach and the executives has to be strong. A coach must be credible enough that the message gets through. If there is trust and openness between a coach and the executives amazing changes can take place. Moreover, everyone that is being coached must stick to the plan, and avoid canceling coaching sessions, except for a death, or a hospital visit. This is a serious investment that can really add to a bank’s bottom line.

In my eleven years of consulting for banks, I found one area that stands out more than any other: most executives do not communicate their expectations to their employees clearly and often enough. In studies I have conducted with bank executives, I observed that a high percentage of employees are spending large amounts of their time in areas that their bosses deem inappropriate or much less of a priority. This is because there is misconnect on the communication of priorities between the employees and executives. It is only in these types of coaching sessions and classroom exercises that one can see that the efficiency of a bank’s operations could be improved, if only the executives were equipped with the skills to better communicate with their employees. I am not referring to teaching them how to craft better e-mails. In fact, quite the opposite, I believe in less e-mails and more direct interaction.

In summary, find a good coach that knows the banking industry, one that knows how to get honest answers from everyone, and knows how to lead the executives to water, without getting them soaked. Again, follow up and coaching are the most important aspects of any training, and the only way to successful change behavior. As always, good luck, and good selling.

Do not re-produce in any form without written permission from Deborah Gavello (714) 478-8351
© Copyright 2010 Gavello and Associates

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