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Mission Possible: Mastering The Coaching Triad 


Much has been written about the importance of coaching and the rewards that come with that effort. But with all that has been written, there is still evidence that most managers and leaders do not spend sufficient effort on this important component of leadership. Whether it is lack of motivation or lack of interest, many employees state that they are not receiving much coaching from their bosses. To be effective, coaching needs to be an ongoing process that is seen by employees as meaningful, targeted and honest.


To make it easy to for leaders and managers, we present a three-pronged approach to the coaching process that is easy to remember, easy to apply and fosters great rewards in terms of employee commitment and engagement.

 So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, consists of the following pledge:


 "I promise to utilize the following coaching triad in my ongoing coaching efforts with my employees:  Support, Recognition and Challenge".


Research has shown that when these three components are applied ON A REGULAR BASIS, the results can be  rewarding for the individual, the coach and the organization.  So let us understand exactly what these consist of one by one, so you are ready to take on this "mission possible":


Support:   This first component tells the employee that you have a vested interest in his/her success. It is exemplified by being there for them not just when they need assistance on a project or program, but by showing interest in them on a regular basis. It means understanding their style of work and doing the "little things" that are meaningful to the employee.  


Examples of showing support are:

  • Keeping an "open door policy" whenever possible
  • Providing visibility for them with upper management
  • Being an active listener and asking open ended questions
  • Asking them about their families or some personal item
  • Stopping by their office just to talk
  • Providing suggestions and ideas for improvement
  • Understanding their motivation and what makes them tick
  • Guiding their work with specific goals and targets and monitoring their efforts   
  • Providing needed resources for them to complete their assignments


Recognition: When a group of 200 employees were asked, "What are the two most important traits you want wanted from your managers," they answered with the following: recognition and fairness. This component of coaching is easy to understand, yet it seems to elude many leaders and managers. Furthermore, it is often not money that is the major motivator, but rather "job well done" or a simple "thank you" that means the most to employees.


So what are some specific ways to offer recognition on an ongoing basis?

  •  Leave a "sticky note" or write a letter commending them on a specific action
  •  Provide an opportunity for public or private praise (depending on the employees' preference)
  •  Send an email recognizing their efforts and copying upper management
  • Additional time off  for a job well-done
  • Use suggestions and ideas from employees, and commend them for being pro-actve
  • Identify times when an employee goes beyond ordinary expectations
  • Create certificates or campaigns that allow employees to be recognized for their efforts:  e.g. Employee of the month, Employee parking space, Above and beyond awards,etc
  • Take an employee out to lunch or bring in lunch for employees


When appropriate recognition becomes part of the culture of an organization, employees feel valued and important. That can translate into increased productivity and a greater return for all.


Challenge: The third component of coaching is to provide challenges to your employees so that they can grow and continue to be of value to both personally as well as professionally. It is the manager's job to create challenges that the employee can handle, while increasing their skill sets and competencies. 


Some examples include:

  • Taking on a new project
  • Working on a cross-functional team
  • Taking a course  or seminar to increase their skills in a particular area of expertise
  • Being cross-trained on a new software or project
  • Solving a recurring problem
  • Heading up a new area
  • Turning around a difficult situation
  • Going back to school



It is important to remember that the principles of the triad coaching model need to be ongoing to be effective.  The time you spend on coaching may not take more than a few minutes each week if done properly, but the results of those efforts will be beneficial to all. Rather than viewing coaching as an impossible mission filled with time, energy and frustration, it will become easy and rewarding. So, review the above and incorporate it into your daily interactions with your employees. It will then become a Mission Possible for you and for your organization!    



Posted by: Barbara Phillips

The Volunteer Revolution: Ten Ways To Motivate Volunteers

One of the greatest challenges a leader will face is how to engage, excite, and sustain volunteers in their organizations. Vision statements are usually designed to be more complex than what can be implemented successfully by one person. Targeted goals often demand a collaborative effort put forth by a combination of paid staff and volunteers. So, how do we motivate people to enthusiastically devote their time and resources to a targeted goal without the benefit of monetary compensation?

 There are some general principles that you can apply to ensure that your organization excites and motivates potential volunteers to serve your organization long-term. The ultimate compliment for any leader is for people to voluntarily agree to support you in attaining your goals. Committed volunteers make a huge difference in moving your organization from "good" to "great."

 In your organization's quest to become one of the great ones, here are ten points to consider (and some questions to ask yourself) regarding your ability to motivate and retain volunteers in your organization:

 1) Build Relationships:

 "Do those serving in my organization experience genuine community?"

 Serving collectively in pursuit of a common goal allows people to bond together. Those who have established and nurtured genuine relationships desire to spend time together, especially when they share a common vision and a common goal and work together to realize a successful outcome.

 2) Be Sure to Have Fun:

 Ask yourself: "Do those serving in my organization seem to be happy? Is the environment filled with fun and laughter regularly?"

 Having fun is a sure recipe for volunteer satisfaction. Laughter and fun can be a great and positive measuring stick relating to the health of your organization. If positive, usually hard-working people seemed stressed out and ill-humored, it might be time to re-evaluate what is taking place behind the scenes in your organization.

 3) Articulate Defined Roles for each Participant:

 "Does each volunteer have a clear understanding regarding what is expected of them?"

 People are "down" on what they are not "up" on! Volunteer discouragement usually stems from clouded communication on defined responsibilities or an ambiguous end goal when they show up to serve. Volunteers want to know exactly what you expect from them. Prepare a defined description of every volunteer position and spend the time necessary one-on-one with each volunteer individually to discuss each point in detail. Although this process takes time and effort, it points to ultimate success!

 4) Provide the Proper "Tools and Equipment":

 "Does each volunteer have the proper "tools" and training necessary to be the best at what they do?"

 It is discouraging to a volunteer to be asked to accomplish a task or work on a project when they lack the proper training or adequate tools necessary to complete the job successfully. Each volunteer should be adequately trained in every area in which they are asked to produce BEFORE releasing them to serve. You will be respected as a great leader if you make sure that your volunteers have the right "tools" (eg, computer training, teaching materials, financial education, assistance, etc) to successfully complete the project.

 5) Offer Encouragement and Appreciation Liberally:

 "Do I regularly encourage my volunteers publicly? Do I show them appreciation through practical and meaningful acts?"

 The most important two words you can ever say to any worker but especially to a volunteer worker is "thank you." Encouragement and appreciation are the two components needed to keep volunteers serving enthusiastically long-term. Everyone works to be appreciated for their efforts, and this is especially true of volunteer workers. Look for appropriate opportunities to laud and encourage them regularly. Take them out for a meal, bring them a latte', or present them with an award or certificate for their exemplary service to the "cause" or project.

 6) Encourage Ownership:

 "Do I allow my volunteers to be a part of shaping their area of service? Do I give them the opportunity to share creative ideas and ways to improve the organization?"

 A common trait found in every person is the desire to make a positive difference. Although some volunteers will serve simply out of the goodness of their hearts or because the extent of their volunteer involvement impacts a member of their family, in the long-term there is the quest for significance. People who feel as though they are a stakeholder in the organization and its success will give their all for it. Provide plenty of opportunity for your volunteers to assist you in shaping and molding their interest. You never know, they just might do it better than you do!

 7) Emphasize "The Big Picture":

 "Do my volunteers understand how significant their contributions are to the organization's ability to fulfill its purpose and vision?"

 When volunteers really understand how their service makes a significant contribution to the accomplishment of the organization's overall mission and vision, they tend to be highly motivated to serve! In other words, volunteers who understand "The Big Picture," and fully understand and embrace their role in seeing that picture realized, those are your highly-motivated, self-driven, inspired volunteers!

 8) Communicate!

 "Do I regularly communicate with my volunteers regarding project details, directions and decisions?"

 Lack of communication will always result in a lack of motivation. Be sure to communicate clearly and regularly with volunteers regarding all aspects of the project.

 9) Show You Really Care:

 "Do I know enough about my volunteers to effectively care for any needs that may arise in their life?

 It has been said, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." One of the primary responsibilities of a good leader is to support and nurture your team. We can never be too busy to get involved in the lives of those who have dedicated themselves to serving and supporting a cause. Be proactive enough to take the "pulse" of each of your volunteers in all areas of their life, personal and professional.

 10) Encourage Self-Care:

 "Do I encourage my volunteers to find consistent and constructive ways to engage in self-care activities?"

 One of the most powerful tools you have to build and motivate your team is to find ways to support and encourage their self development. Self-care gives volunteers an opportunity to re-fuel; giving their best effort consistently. Promoting self-care results in happier, healthier, more motivated individuals.

 Positive volunteers produce positive results! To ensure successful outcomes, use the ten-points above to motivate and encourage non-paid individuals to work toward a common goal. It may take time and effort on a leader's part: but the dividends it pays are worth it!


Posted by: Charles Frazier

Effective Communication: Is Your Message Clear To Your Audience?

Message clarity in giving and receiving information is one requirement of effective, targeted communication..

The second requirement  of effective communication is to not make assumptions or hold pre-conceived ideas about messages sent or received.


Dialogue - the act of communicating between people -  is a process of

1)         Talking in verbal patterns or scripts

2)         Listening, and

3)         Responding well.


Scripts and their responses collectively make up effective communication.  

Some points to consider:

  • We are usually not aware of our speech patterns or scripts, and so assume everyone else's is the same.
  • It is to listening that we pay the least attention.  It is in listening that we are least trained. 
  • Responses are dependent on our listening capability, and on our awareness of patterns and scripts in the conversation.


When we talk, we use patterns that are familiar to us.  The "scripts" and roles we use are established by our backgrounds.  This is also true about how we have learned to listen and how we have learned to respond. So, our communication is heavily laden with our assumptions, our notions of reality, and our history.  Who we bring to the conversation is the "Us" with whom we are so familiar.  It is perfectly acceptable - and indeed necessary -  to carry our "selves" into dialogue.  We just have to be careful that the "script" of "self" does not interfere with message clarity that is perceived by our audience(s).. 


Message clarity can be absent for obvious reasons (if we are paying attention and listening).  Is the person we are addressing  from the same background, where words and expressions mean the same thing as they do to us?  Is there enough shared knowledge to connect in a meaningful way?  Are there similar sociological values and underlying assumptions?  In a business setting, is each person familiar with the technical and cultural background of this business environment?  Is there a "power structure" within which the conversation is being held? 

Effective communicators are always aware of the potential to disconnect.



Effective communication is incredibly complex. When we consider that dialogue represents a huge portion of our interaction with one another, it should be apparent to us that being fully present for the dialogue process is one of the important things we need to do in life.  How well we dialogue translates in direct proportion to how effectively we co-create our interactions with one another.    


Posted by Louann Hart



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