Episode 25: How To Use Outside Resources
Who are your Trusted Advisors? What do you intend them to do for your organization? Do you need a Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Speaker, Onboarder, Mentor, Board Interfacer or some other type of resource? What are the best ways to use them? We know and understand the challenges in finding the role for the right "fit” for your organization. Clarity about roles, goals and expectations are a large part of the process. If you have ever been tasked with engaging with outside resources, you won’t want to miss our next VoltCast. Voltage CEO Jeff Smith and Principal Consultant Lee Hubert will share practical tip and best practices to get clarity on “How to Use Outside Resources.”
Jeff: Welcome. Thanks for joining us today. This is Jeff Smith. You are listening to Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. Today on the show, I am going to have Lee Hubert.
Lee: Hey, Jeff.
Jeff: Hey, Lee. Great that you can be with us today.
Lee is a regular participant of the show as you guys know. Again, thanks for all the nice shout outs. We have heard from all kinds of people around the world. Earlier today, I was calling with somebody from Abu Dhabi. Susan Ward, great to talk to you. She is now in Thailand. Talked a lot about serving leader to her. Really appreciative over the last couple weeks we had folks like the authors of Chocolate or Lunch, Sharon and Nancy. Really the insights that they shared about building relationships and making choices and things like that, we should then continue building the theme about relationships.
Today's topic, we will give you contact information in just a second but today's topic is really about you know how to use internal resources but what about all those other resources that are out there? What about when you need a speaker or consultant or you need someone to come in and help lead your team through things? We are going to talk from... Lee and I have both hired people for, we have been hired, we work with boards, we help organize boards.
Occasionally I get bored on those board meetings. We are to give you some just best practices about how do you use your resources that are outside of the organizations, what are lessons learned? It is Jeff Smith and Lee Huber from Voltage Leadership Consulting. Throughout the course of the week, if you ever want to e-mail us, you can e-mail me at email@example.com. Lee is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can come to our website at www.voltageleadership.com. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. You can connect with me at Jeff Smith, Voltage Leadership Consulting or Lee Hubert at Voltage Leadership Consulting. Then you can follow me on Twitter @jmujeff.
Let us do a little dive into this. Lee, you have been a facilitator, you have been a coach, a speaker, and so you have been hired many times. But you also have run your own human resource departments and you had to hire facilitator, coaches, speakers, and all that. As we start to think about resources that we use from the outside, what are some of your thought process? What do you do as you start to think about bringing in some from externally?
Lee: My mind always goes to something called the trusted advisor.
Jeff: Trusted advisor? That sounds...
Lee: It is heavy duty. That is really good. There is a lot of books and things written about it but the long and the short of it is the concept of the trusted advisor. You mentioned in a previous show you get an advisory board or advisory panel, some outside people that you trust and that you value their insight and they may be seeing something that you do not. There is value in bringing people in from the outside. I am going to touch in a couple of examples. There is a client in Lynchburg, actually clients all over the place, Virginia, North Carolina. Where since we are quote from the outside, we are not necessarily beholden to any internal culture and all of that entails. You people who are, you know who you are, I could see you there.
Part of the reason that we add value is it because we are not. We are able to give you very good professional cordial candid feedback about what we observe going on. It is what you are paying us to do, right? You earn your status as the trusted advisor just does not happen automatically, it is a relationship. Why do people trust people from the outside? What is their motivation to bring people in? Sometimes It is self-serving, sometimes it is window dressing to see we did something nice, right? So we can say, 'Oh, we tried.' It is a half-hearted effort.
Jeff: We try to avoid that at Voltage. We just do not.
Lee: I am saying those exactly. When you do bring something, it is usually with intentionality. We use that word a lot in what are the problems that we want to solve and how can these outside resources help us do that. There is wisdom in engaging those and engaging the right ones. We are going to talk a little bit about how to go about doing.
Jeff: For me, interesting, I had one this morning. One of my client is recently going through a reduction in force. I gave him a compliment today because what I was really impressed by is that lots of times people get so busy that right when they are the most stressed, that is when they maybe cancel an appointment with the consultant or coach or this organization. They are not really cutting so much from a strictly financial. It is more of we want to take some resources from here. We cannot afford to fund this part of the business, let us go someplace else.
But even then you scrutinize every dollar and what I really complimented on was he actually used me more in the last five months that he had previously and he said, 'Oh my gosh, Jeff. The reason I use you so much is you are my thinking partner.' Everyone else internally was running around, I could not always share with them what was going on. I had lots of people that they had their vested interests. They might want to protect jobs in their department. I was sort of that Switzerland as we like to use.
I was the safe spot that he could go and have a conversation. We did not always have a regular hour sit down either. Some of our conversations were 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Like, 'Hey, Jeff. I just got new information. Could you just be a thinking partner for me for 15 minutes, listen to what I am saying, and give me some suggestions advice. The least point, often, because I am not in day in and day out. Drama, the speed...
Lee: Drama? There is drama?
Jeff: Exactly. There is speed in the organization, there is some drama. I can be that that good resource in outside. I also say, look, when I was internal sometimes I have ran my own HR departments at least on something similar. There is this sense of like, what am I? Chopped liver? I am internal, am I not good enough?
You are paying me but honestly, a good trusted adviser in Voltage, we had more business that we can handle and that is a great problem, but we are always looking for more customers that we can help support and grow. But I do not feel beholden to any one person so that I can be honest and direct.
Lee: Honest and direct, that is very good.
Jeff: How about you, Lee? What are you seeing?
Lee: Well, you mentioned the word thought partner. That is a key thing. We work with clients of all different types and verticals and sizes, right? It might be huge healthcare organizations around the world, global operations, manufacturing, technology, all over the place, right? Some have very well developed HR departments or OD functions. Some actually have an army of people still but we engage with them. Other times, their structure, such that it is a very small department or sometimes a department of one or one or two. These folks are really busy. They want to do the right thing. They are meritorious.
Their intentions are good for the organization. Sometimes you are just overwhelmed. That word thought partners like there is a therapeutic value to this in addition to a business deliverable where if you get somebody who is running that gun and then you recognized them by the stressed out look in their eyes, sometimes by maybe complaint that they have gained ten pounds over the last quarter than I am not sure where it came from and there never seem to be enough hours in the day.
This is not a misery loving company, this is just a statement of fact wherein you wanted intense busy time, right? Get you off the ground. Especially those folks to be their trusted advisor, they know they need to do something. They just do not have the resources available sometimes on the inside to do it. We are very judicious, very studied, very actually I will say kind of conservative in our approach to where we wanted to engage with the right people for the right reasons. You are going to pay us, like you say, we have lots of business and we go that is not necessary the issue. The issue is can we positively impact you so you can impact your company and help the community that your company is doing business in.
Jeff: I think that there are multiple roles here. Let us start to peel the onion back here at the start and then we will continue this after break. But there are boards.
There is advisory boards, there are coaches, there are consultants. There is a speaker, there is facilitators. Let us start to just peel that back a little bit.
Lee: I am going to start with speaker and facilitator because you know that is part where my energy is. That is the risk of being self-serving, that was preferably fine. Part of the things that we do at Voltage, like to do, are a lot platform presenting. We get hired to do Keynotes and the result and workshops and off sites that result from that. But I want to touch on one distinction as you brought. The distinction between speaking and facilitating.
Now, a speaker, is it somebody who is going to be on the platform given a Keynote. Is it 60 minutes, 90 minutes, whatever the case may be. Who is that person, what are their qualifications, are they following a professional speaking motif? Facilitation is quite the opposite, right? I will throw in the word training too, right? Because they are all three distinct. Training is a presentation, I am delivering content, probably interactive fair amount but it is less of that facilitative type thing. Facilitation, I am driving but I am pushing you on the right direction. I have had to learn that the hard because I am very high eye on this because you know and I talk a lot, I am waiting.
Jeff: I have never seen this happen. I am waiting for my time. I am being patient.
Lee: I am shocked. A business thought partner, I understand. It is really good. As facilitator mode, which I have really grown that skill over the years, is somewhat the art of asking great questions. I have got a team of people, I am going to get the healthcare team with the CEO in the room, twenty or thirty managers. I am facilitating a process. It is either coming out problem solving or process improvement or something that they have teed up from diagnostics like stop start continue, how are we going to do this?
I will always ask in facilitator mode the AOB thing. What actions should you take, who owns it, and what are the behaviors that support it? I could talk for days about either of those. I could say hello for thirty minutes if I had to but that is not the point, point is I am facilitating it at that point. Training is good for delivering the content and it is usually based needs analysis like sometimes and you get to times. We do diagnostics. A lot of times the client will come to us and say fix this little situation over here, fix that person over there, then we will be okay.
That is going down the waterline as you know it. Almost always, I will push back a little bit and say okay let us go up the water line a couple of places. Is this a functional situation? Then they will say what do you mean, I say is everything cleared? Are the roles, responsibilities, and expectations clear? Is that the reason why farther down water line people are squeaking? Because if you me to train somebody down their shirt, I can do that. But let us really understand fully what it is we are talking about.
Jeff: Let me recap here in this section. We are really talking about you know how to use your internal resources, when do you use external resources? Even if it is an internal, how do you use an internal consultant? One of things that Lee has been talking about I really love is this facilitator. Times to use a facilitator is will you think It is going to be a controversial topic?
Contentious. When it might be a new area. I got one group right now that two different groups are coming together to form a new department. We do not want it to be like there is a winning department or losing department.
Lee: It is my department, it is your department, it my department. A facilitator can probably ask thought provoking questions, challenge the group and get into a new spot. I would also say if it is going to be one where you really want to be a participant, invite a facilitator in. It can be your human resource department, this department or it can be an external resource like us. But you want to be a real participant, it is hard to participate fully when you are trying to manage the time, when you are trying to watch all the by language and all that. If it is going to be contentious or you want to be fully engaged, great time for facilitator.
Jeff: What I would say is after the break, we will continue to go through some other ways that you use extra resources and what are the right ones, when do we use them there. We will pick up a little bit more in facilitation. Thanks being with us so far today. Lee and I will be back in two minutes.
Jeff: Welcome back. I am so glad that you could be with us today. It is Jeff Smith. I am here today with Lee Hubert from Voltage Leadership Consulting. Lee, thanks for being here today.
We are really trying to help you understand how you utilize the best resources to accomplish the goals that you are trying to achieve. Lee and I recently in a show. We are really talking about how you get your desired outcomes in 2017. You are pretty good at using your internal resources. Today's conversations is about what do you do and what does you look for when you are bringing in folks from the outside and what are some of the best practices? Before the break, we have been talking about facilitators. I just want to wrap that up and then Lee get ready to think about speaking I know a topic near and dear to both of our hearts.
Facilitators though, inside or outside, what I would say is the more contentious, the more there might be something at risk then I would encourage you to think about outside facilitator. I was working with somebody last week though where we decided to use an internal. It is someone that I coach and we said it is a two off site and it was really about organizing their own work within their department. But what we are really intentional about letting each person get about a half days’ worth of facilitation.
The person I was coaching is up in Canada, came back and said it was good, but a couple of them felt like they had to be in that expert spot. They were missing sort of the facilitation and they felt like when they had the baton, I like to think about, and they are in control of the room, they really held on tight. I gave them some suggestions for how to facilitate in the future. What I want you to know though is that same example of what can happen. When you use an internal resource, they feel like I am going to have the answer. I have to like really like I am going to upset a peer, am I going to upset somebody?
Lee: Be perfect. Do not make any mistakes, come on.
Jeff: Right. One of the benefits of using external facilitator is hey they are there to ask the tough questions, to keep track of the time, to sort of go into that murky space that no one wants to talk about.
There is also that ability to ask the hard question. Sometimes, my friend Joan and I, we were facilitating a group about two weeks ago or three weeks ago now and you could just see the room was avoiding the topic. It was kind okay, Joan are co-facilitators for a full nine hour day. I wrote a note, are you going to take it all or am I going to take it on? It was so obvious to see and so I got up there and just said, Hey, look. There is a topic that you guys do not want to seem to talk about. Here it is.' Again, that is what a facilitator can come in and do is ask the tough questions. What to look for? I think it is going to be a little bit somewhere between a facilitator and a speaker but I will cover the facilitator and you maybe talk about how to use a speaker.
Facilitators, they should have some experience, they should meet with you ahead of time and get your clear desired outcomes. One of the top two to three things that you want? What is off limits? Is there some topics that we are just not going to cover? What is the scope of what we want to cover?
They should be able to help you craft a really good agenda but it is supposed to be agenda that is flexible. If we hit a topic where we need to go for a while, they can do that. Their ego should not be the leading thing because as Lee alluded to in the first segment is it is not about us, the facilitator, it is about you. If we are spending too much time talking, that is probably not the best thing. That is not facilitation. Facilitation is about asking good questions but it is also about challenging and getting to action.
Making sure that you have got folks that are not too academic and are just throwing models at you but are looking to say what are the actions that we are looking for, what are the desired outcomes and they push you to it. But one final thing that I just encourage you, it should be a good match with you. Is that a personality that you want? I have got one friend of mine, is a excellent facilitator, she though is kind of coming off the top brutally. I mean this up, bam. She is from New York.
I am more of a co-collaborator. We are in a partnership together. Occasionally, I do not say it as direct as I should though. You must find who are you comfortable. That is a great point, that really is a great point.
Lee: There is times when I facilitated conflict resolution sessions.
We call them many different things. Join ups or whatever you want to call it. To your earlier point, we fully understand what the needs are. What is the problem, there is some energy around something and I depicted describe it as if what is the problem that just never seems to go away. It is almost as we are basically interventionist at that point for that cultural interventionist. We pull people aside, say look I am facilitating, I am driving, I will see things up and I am the closer, okay? I am going to ask each of you a bunch of questions. If I think it is too energized, I will reel it in. We will make it safe. It is a good professional safe thing, but it is a sign of great respect. In a lot of leadership, they will not go there because it is easier just to avoid it.
It is not fair to everybody, it is not fair to the person who needs the feedback or the organizations because they got merit, these people are talented people. Instead of having the facilitated discussion with a trusted advisor who is compatible with your culture and your team, they avoid the whole thing. If some conflict resolution sessions sounds like this, I will have two people there. It might be a boss in a direct report, it might be two peers, it might be two peers and their boss. We will run through the process and at the end I will ask each of them what you need from each other and then to your earlier point about actions, I use actions ownership behaviors so those people get energized I will say reel it in. What is the next step we need to take? We talked about in our last show about what is important knowing. We just have to focus on breathing through the next step here. People want to revisit the past, recurrent do not care.
Jeff: Right. That bleeds a little bit into coaching, we will come back to that little bit. Speaking, right. We get invited to do these speeches, like why do people want a speaker? Our listeners are out there, they come to us to get best practices and all that but why do people call you? I know some of my reasons. I know that I will be speaking in Dallas for a road show at the end of February. I know you have got several speeches already in February or early March. Why do people hire you to speak and what was the purpose of speaking? What are they hoping to get of it?
Lee: We have got a couple different flavor, that is a great question. First of all, what is the intent of the speaking engagement? Is it a Keynote which is a formal platform part of a business meeting? Is it a keynote plus, a workshop plus, a breakout session? A couple of guidelines and these are all good things, right? Before you engage with the speaker of any sort, you need to do a little P and P, a little planning and preparation. You should know what your needs are and what the desired outcomes are to use your jay-z word.
Jeff: I am still in this P and P. Okay, it is P and P.
Lee: P and P. Elevate now, elevate now. Plan and preparation. In a lot of times, we belong for packages, right? Do you just want just the speech? Tell me what are the must haves? Tell me what are the must avoids. Kind of what we just talked about. Tell me about the things that are culturally out of bonds. You need to do that diligence. People do not realize a lot of times the work that goes in on the front end for just a sixty minute speech, a Keynote speech. That is a a lot of hours.
Jeff: Yes. I was just going to say, I generally for a normal speech like that if I have already done the speech before, I still have three to four hours of prep. When I have never done a speech, it is eight to fifteen hours probably.
Lee: There is a ratio that says for about every 1000 or X number of words that you are going to be speaking on the platform, there is a corresponding Y of research. It is more than people think. The only thing I would add is when you are looking for somebody, get somebody who is confident. I mean when you get to the part of okay, what do you charge for this? If they start immediately backpedaling, my antenna would go up because a lot of times people just starting out okay I get that you got to reduce your fee and all of that.
That is to get business and everybody understands it. But in reality, if you get somebody who is a subject matter expert, who is confident, the credentials are great, they have done it before, they are the real thing and they have fun doing it and you walk away from that experience whether it is the Keynote or the offsite or the workshop. Go on wow. We want the jazz factor, okay? It grieves me and it grieves people at Voltage to hear from potential clients and from colleagues that say we tried to do this but it did not come off as expected. It was kind of a dud. I was like, okay, we should probably talk about this more doing the things we are talking about right here.
Jeff: I have hired tons, nine may be higher, but I used to help Global Training & Development with Capital One. We hire people a lot. One things I would just keep an eye out for is, Lee alluded to, but I want to see that they understand us and not that they are presenting just on what they are curious about and their whole agenda. I make sure that they really understand the audience. What is unique about your audience and make sure they can adapt what they are talking about to the audience.
Lee and I get hired a good bit. We have done a lot work with healthcare and laboratories and lots of the businesses. I understand labs. I have worked in labs, I managed labs, I have heard a lot laboratories. When I am in there, I know the difference in a blood banker and a med tech.
Those are things that a lot of people will not know. I do not know everything about them but I know enough to know and how this audience is going to show up. When I am in there and using examples, I am to talk about the bench. I am going to talk about what it is like is to be there. I know that there is a real shortage of med techs in the United States and what you are feeling and how retention so critical.
I am not just coming giving my normal speech about succession planning or time management. I want to know what it is like to be in a laboratory. I think as you are thinking about who to bring in, who to hire, make sure that they really can connect with the audience. It cannot just be good content, they must connect with the audience. I have seen Lee speak plenty of times. I know he does this well. Lee, what else you got the hold on top?
Lee: Going to that point, I mean they have to have a depth of knowledge to be a subject matter expert and your audience will see it in and feel it in a heartbeat if that is not the case. The thing is being planning two steps ahead. If paging Dr. Murphy, okay, what could possibly go wrong? Dr. Murphy and Murphy's Law is a legal partner, we will up sometimes. You can tell the savvy presenters who have been there, done that, they are not going to freak out, they have got fallback plan some place. Your event will go off as scheduled as opposed to you being the owner. They are going to say well who brought this person in? Thanks a lot, right?
There is a little bit of internal political risk there. Then you get over to things like the actual content delivery itself. We talk a little bit about what to look for in a speaker. Things I like to see and the experience that they have been heard about are presents authenticity, energy, you mention the ability to connect with the audience. Those are kind intangible things, you have it or you do not. If you do not, it is going to come through. Other things here, they formally trained to people to understand some of the technical things like Church Hill model, a LinkedIn model, triads and the speech. Speak of natural ability like me but in addition to that, there is an academic component to it as well. It is not just flying by the seat to your pants, right? People who have spent a lot of time preparing either formally or informally to do this.
Jeff: Lots of wonderful suggestions for us to be able to figure out when to use a speaker, type of speakers we are looking for. When we pick back up after the break, I have got a funny story that I would like to share real quick and then we will move over to let us talk a little bit about coaching and then drift over into some boards. We will be back with you in just two minutes.
Jeff: Welcome back. So glad that you have been with us so far today. We are talking about external resources and how to use them, when to use them, what to look for and some best practices? I got Lee Hubert here who is a nationally sought after speaker, facilitator, coach. We have been able to, at Voltage, put together a team that can find a lot of this services but we have also been the ones that hired a lot of these people. We are just trying to share some our best practices and lessons learned.
Just a quick funny story, Lee, that I promised before the break was I am down in Miami. I will not name the organization. I am there and I am going to be facilitating two days of training. You are talking about you have got to have people who do not get flustered too much. I am all set up, I have gone in the night before I checked it out. I am a very prepared speaker. This is more of a training facilitation speaking that I am doing. Everything is all set up. I get there seventeen mornings to set up. We are supposed to start at 8:30. I guess it is about 7:45, I am just a bit surprised no one has come because I mean there is some traffic and yata, yata, yata. They could speak. Now, I am starting to freak out a little bit. Like where is everybody?
I have got everything lined up there, thirty seven people are supposed to be here, I got everything lines up 8:15, still no way there. 8:30, I finally get a call we are supposed to be staring. I am like there is really clearly something wrong. I tried to call the headquarters, I did not set this up. An external agency set this up. Finally, somebody calls me. I am like it an unrecognized number and this guy is saying are you Jeff Smith and I am like yes. Then he goes are you not supposed to be facilitating a session and I am like yes. I was at a Hilton and they are in a Hilton Garden Inn. I am in a spot that has been reserved but for sure it caught out with Hilton Garden Inn. It is 40 minutes away.
I said well let us think about this. A lot harder to get 37 people to me than me to them so I sprint out and was able to negotiate a contract. We got a room. It was like I said, we went and stayed there for the second day.
We only lost about an hour worth of stuff. I shortened up lunch. For the first half an hour, my heart was raising but I would, look, this is going to happen. You are going to want speakers and facilitators that have been through a war or two. I was able to have it pull off. We got great reviews and ended up the organization that I was doing it for, they ended up doing it again the next year. We sold out the next. As well as you got to be able to have someone that kind of fly and handle that. I do not want that done again.
Lee: That is demonstrably what you were talking about. There is poise, okay? In the places I have spoken, places in Southeast Atlanta, up in DC for G2 for labs, Charlotte, different place around the Southeast. Things will happen. I can think of one client locally here, you are familiar with the manufacturing global manufacturer, we get to the venue and everything is ready to go and the little ball down the little device burns on.
I literally got twelve minutes before all these people going to start showing up and I am being challenged. I thought I am going to pass this test. I thought okay my mind is racing, right? I have got it racing towards a solution, not panic or anything. I thought this is... I demonstrated well, you were just talking about. You have to have somebody who has got savvy, who is not going to freak out, who is going to make it happen. I get on the phone, I am dialing around people on my locale and fortunately we have clients there, right? I called one on one, 'Hey, how are you doing? By the way, can I pop over to your IT Department and climb on one of your projectors?' 'Sure, Lee, no problem.' I am like, 'Thank you.'
It would have been tough to do other than that but the point is, like to your point, we pulled it off. The show must go on and it did. We have great reviews and it was all good. When you are talking about speakers, you want to make sure you get somebody who has the savvy to navigate it like that.
Jeff: Let us shift it to a little different spot. Let us go to this executive coaching and that trusted relationship. We get hired a lot as coaches, right? I really value and honor that every time. It is a…
Lee: It is a privilege.
Jeff: That is a great word. Someone's got to trust their future. This is one of those hard ones where I understand why some people do not want an internal coach. I have been both. I have been on the inside been an internal coach, I have been in charge of hiring coaches from the inside, I am now an external coach, but I also hire some of my own coaches.
I feel like I am in the whole spectrum. Here is what I say is that the internal coach can be really beneficial. I sort of think sort of a director, a manager, frontline, internal coaching may be the best. They can follow you around. They can give you a lot of specific feedback, they can be there, just make sure they have got some training and coaching and understand how to serve the person well and that they are not serving themselves. Sometimes coaches get into it to sort of feel good about themselves.
Watch that but again, often, that is great. What I find a lot of time is that you get into that senior director vice president C suite, there is just enough politics and enough pressure that as an internal person, can that person really be as honest and direct as possible?
From my HR friends out there that say why does not that person come to me? I get it, because you are in an impossible spot. You got a vice president, little frustrated. I am thinking recently an HR person hired me who is a friend and a wonderful coach could have done the job, but it was her boss, the CEO, and the COO who directs a lot of her work. How honest and direct could she be when these two are really writing her paycheck? She pulled me and said, 'Hey, I trust you. I trust that you can come in to help get this one stopped.' Really, it was not a terrible situation. It was just trying to get them aligned and communicating more effectively. But I can come in and say did you say it that way, quit whining. Like I could just be that direct and honest because they are just one of many clients.
Lee: It is interesting you make that point. I had a similar situation. Some of it was one person, some of it was a conference call from all over the place. I will use misdirection or indirect. I will use the person X, I will call it Tom. Tom is very high D, very direct to the point, almost bowl in the China shop, gets great results okay. I will describe Tom to this other person, there may be conflict but as you know Tom is very sedate. He is very calm, he is very meek and mild. Does not raise, does not rock the boat lad and all people are already going okay are you okay Lee or what is going on here? Okay, you are listening to me now, you get the point. I am covering that what can be contentious conflict type of material but in a very delicate way. Other times like I will just say, 'You know what? If I was the boss, I would have pulled some of these people behind them and use closed door and said do you like working? If you do, do not do this again.'
Jeff: A few things for me from hiring coaching and what to look for, we get asked this question almost weekly. A few things. One, confidentiality is just critical. It is a given but you have got to be able to trust that coach understands it and the confidentiality sometimes means we are going to pull together a whole team, right? I am in one scenario right now where I am coaching the whole of that team where I will protect what we say but when I see conflicts happening on the team, I am going to pull them together.'
Now, I am not going to say Lee said this and Jennifer said this and Debbie said that. I am going to come together and say, 'Hey, here is some conflicts. We need to get that together and talk but I am going to protect the confidentiality.' Confidentiality is number one. Right? Huge. Second, is this person a culture fit? Do they match what you are trying to do? Do they fit in the style? Because that is going to be important. Do you feel like that this coach is also a partner? Really what should be is someone that wants to see you succeed, see the organization succeed. When I come and engage, I am there to really say what can we do to help you be successful which drives the organization to success? Do they have a good experience? Experience matters. Sometimes, you need someone as a subject matter expertise. I would want you to be thinking about okay do you want someone that has come from your field and you need sort of more technical information or do you need leadership or team building or culture work?
You need to really think about that. Literally, just last week, I was interviewed by somebody who is going to be a CEO. They are sort of a CEO right now. There is just a few gaps that they want to close. He is in a marketing space. His original thought was he is going to hire a marketing coach but what he realized was I know how to marketing really well. I am so high in the organization, I do not really need help with my marketing. I need help getting people to buy in to my mission, my vision. I need some people to think about how I develop my staff and my talent.
Those are strengths of mine. I told him if you need marketing and you need to occasionally get a marketing coach, go for it. But if you need leadership development, how do you put your vision out there, how to communicate well, how to get people to get back to work. I think we are a great match. Hire me because it was the right match but that is what you should be thinking about. What is your need? What is your desired outcome?
Lee: Well, to your point about the trusted advisor and trust is earned and it is an interesting porch to sit on. I mean I am like you, you will sit on this porch, you will hear all these data points. Hear things that are parts of each person's silo and it is our role a lot of times to bust the bankers and hey bring your head up above the silo, get make a line of sight, I cut you to the errors, nice up your breathe, okay, breathe my friend. Breathe deep. I will be privy to things that I will know but they will not and I will never violate that but there are also times I will go offline with maybe a sub-component of the team. In fact, I am doing that routinely now. I will bring the right people, or it might be two or maybe three people and say here is my observations and it is a form of crucial conversation, but it is coaching, we are going to push you a little bit.
That is what they are paying us to do. If you want us to commit here, I am glad to hand you a bit of as the process is really not what we are doing, not interested in doing it. You present the feedback and present in such a way where it is cordial and professional and they can hear it and I will even say the words. Okay, pay attention to what I am about to say now and give them the heads up. I want you to listen to for content. Okay, are you listening to me for content? Just to give them to clear up their mind out because I do not know what was going on prior to that. Most of the time, they do.
Jeff: A couple of other questions I could just ask to hit quick before the break is how long should we be in a coaching relationship? It depends, I hate to answer that way but there is some. I am doing one right now that we are debriefing a 360 and we are debriefing feedback. It will be two to three sessions because it is real specific. Let us make sure they put together a plan and then they will carry forth. There is others I have been with for five years that we kind of add and flow how much we.
I was with somebody the other day, both the long and short. The short and the long of it.
Lee: You got the add and the flow and the long and the short event.
Jeff: You got it. But there is not a set answer what I would say. Make sure that you have some clear goals, set some clears patience, check in on regular basis. What you want to watch out for and I find that sometimes it becomes a good conversation and we drift away from coaching. The coaching can be real strategic and other times it can be things that are like real task that day like I just had a tough conversation, can you help me think through the conversation?
For you, what I would say when you think about hiring a coach for your organization for yourself, make sure it is a good fit. Make sure that they have the type of things that match with what you want to work on, set some clear ground rules. I generally say start with about six month contract, that is long enough to know that you made a significant change but it is also enough pressure say there is some urgency and we need to create that urgency to make sure we get it done and then let us revisit.
Jeff: Welcome back to Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. I am here today with Lee Hubert. Lee is here. Thank you, Lee.
We have been talking about hiring resources, external, come in and help you for various situations. We just wrapped up the conversation around how do you go about hiring maybe a speaker, an executive coach? We are going to wrap today with a little bit of the how do I interact with my board?
We will not give this full justice. We will have a whole show dedicated later in the year to board engagement, how do we do that, but I want to recognize that that is an important resource to you as well and how do we interact. Not all of my listeners will necessarily be in a board relationship. Some that will be in advisory board, some as an actual voting board. Here is what I would say. To those leaders that understand that the board is there to help them, they have a better relationship. When they look at the board as somebody that is micro managing more dominating them or pushing down on them, almost invariably, I find some of this in what we call the dry trauma triangle.
They feel like they are a victim. The persecutor is the board and they are they are kind of hoping for me or somebody else to be the rescuer. Again, frame of mind is going to matter. The board is there to help with things like succession planning, strategic thinking, being able to take a step back and see where is the market going, what have we been hearing? There is a word that we have used in previous shows as some kind of building partner. They only come in maybe once a month, once a quarter, two times a year. What they are doing is you get busy day in and day out running operations, they are only coming in and get a little segments of the business and they are asking wait a second, you said you were going to go really work on this new product and we have been gone for three months and I do not see much traction what you have been doing? Those are reasonable things to ask and they are but what can happen is it feels like oh I am going get defensive and be like well let me tell you about what happened. We lost this person that is key resource. The better that you can form a relationship with your board and have a two-way conversation as collaboration. I can almost guarantee you will have success.
Because we just came to about talk about coaching and there is an application to coach the board or I will say even the board share or the major influencers. If there is X number of people on the board, whatever it is, ten people or fifteen people, and there is only one or two people, a CEO and people are connected to the board directly, that is a tough thing. Just stricken from the fire hose from fifteen different directions. It is a good counsel and I think it is good coaching managing up to the board, voting board, to say here is how it would be helpful for us to work together.
A lot of people are intimidated to do that. Oh my God, it is a board, you cannot do this. I am going to get demoted. No, that is wrong. Everybody wants the same thing. We want what is right for your organization, what a good outcome work, we want success. It is not unlike a lot of other coaching relationships. How are we going to work together, what language should we be talking? Not even like on speaking, they are facilitating, do I know your audience? Think about it, who is on the board? A lot of these folks are retired executives, are active executives, and they have got big careers and lots of experience, right? Wealth of knowledge and experience to tap there just sometimes the minutia around it prevents the people from getting at it.
Jeff: To wrap on this part is we are not trying to be naive. We know that there are some difficult boards and we know that they can have their own self-serving interests and things like that, not trying to be naive. Try to take the normal average board here is what we are really trying to do and say if you can establish a good relationship with the chairperson, you might be the chairperson on some of our organizations, spend time in board development. Helping people understand what their roles are, making sure what are the rules of the of the road here? Do we want them actively engaged in the business or they just advisors of the business?
Give clarity on roles and expectations. Make sure there is a little bit developmental board. I have survived, give me a board. I have got a board right now and I cannot even tell you everyone around the table. We have never been introduced to each other even. I know their name.
We meet a couple of times. We meet about once a quarter. Probably about four or five times a year. I am still relatively new to board but there are people in the board I do not even know. How am I going to be giving consistently good feedback to the CEO, right? I coach about fifteen or twenty CEOs right now and one things I would say is for people I understand how much of a time that when I coach a CEO, it is all about the board. Most people think it is about running the business. No, it is about board management.
We spend a lot of times, 40% to 60% of our time one the upcoming board meeting and board conflict. How do I get the board? I just had a conversation yesterday on my coaching call. We are introducing some new products. Is it time to get the board yet or do we need to flash this out? We had to really debate that and we decided to wait until the next board meeting but to start talking to a couple board members. The chairperson of the board has had great call. If we go on this time, it would have been too much nip picking and we were not ready and the idea may get crushed too early. Understand that the board is there to serve you, the organization and the better that you can build a relationship, the better the board will be. We have got a few minutes left in the show, Lee. What are some of the key takeaways that you would take from both hiring people and being hired that you want to list right now?
Lee: Today I am going to talk about the speaker facilitation and training component because that is where a lot of my energy is.
I mean if you really do have to go find the right fit and I mean if we have information on the website, go there, look at it, you will see my face, you will see Jennifer, you will you, all that stuff. We really do not want to have people with a bad outcome. We preach this all the time, right? If you have that experience, you go on this could have been better. I was good, it was not great. We want to be great, everybody wants that, right? There are several things that you will see there. There are some things that we are the subject matter expert in. There are other things that we draw on and become the subject matter expert in. Different verticals. I mean earlier today I was in a meeting at Lynchburg. We were talking about these big boomers.
There were some millennials at the table and this was a laugh out loud funny because they did not understand a darn thing that I was saying. I would interpret it for them. That is funny and it is nice but there is a serious note behind that because there are people of boomer generation who are managing millennials or vice versa.
That is the serious subject matter behind. Imagine multiple people in the generations of the workforce. There is a ton of other things there you mention the drama triangle. God, any number of subjects that we could go there and talk to. If you would like to learn more about that, go to voltageleadership.com. Click on the speaker's page, you will see it all.
Jeff: I think for me, let me go to just the coaching. Make sure that for all of these, you get a good fit. The coaching is there to be sort of a thinking partner and accountability partner. I work with you guys, I know you guys, your rack the stack, your days are full.
We are all overworked, we are overwhelmed. What we try to do as coaches, as facilitators, as speakers, is we try to really be there. I know Lee, Jennifer and myself, we read a lot. We listen to podcast all the time. We are studying things. We are on YouTube watching videos. Trying to say you guys are busy, let us distill the critical information down to the few bullet points that you can actually hear and absorb. The reason to do a coach or a speaker is let us take the best practices and come to you and help but also let us be that person that is kind of your oasis to be your thinking partner.
Lee: I love that. Set another way we add value to this interaction. Like one of the things you see in speakers page is behind a manager's closed door. Just think about that subject and think about all the things that can happen both negatively and positively. We have a great presentation that talks all about that.
Jeff: Yes. Your internal resources are fantastic. Use them. Make sure that you know how to do use them, when is the right time to use them. Facilitator or not, but also know hey if you are going to hire somebody, set some clear expectations. Have good desired outcomes, get them well, make sure that you know what they can do. We really appreciate it that you listen to us each and every week. We appreciate the letters and notes that we get throughout the course of the week.
If you want to try to contact us throughout the course of the week, you can find us at www.voltageleadership.com. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. Follow us on Twitter, @jmujeff. You connect with Lee or I on LinkedIn at either Jeff Smith or Lee Hubert, Voltage Leadership Consulting. If you like to give us a call during the week, it is 540-798-1963. Each and every week, we try to bring you new and interesting topics but you can also shake the show. If there is something you would like to see on the show, please send us an e-mail, give us a call, and we would love to incorporate into the show. As we go out the next few weeks, we have got some authors coming on the show, we got a PhD student that is thinking about the purpose and we have some also case studies coming of our clients. I am really looking forward to that. Lee, thanks for being here with us.
Lee: Yes. Sure, my pleasure. Happy to do it. I know you got to go run off to a speaking engagement. Thanks for the rest of the time and to our listeners thanks for being with us. We will talk to you again next week on Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. Have an awesome week.