Archive for the ‘Business Consulting’ Category

A Business Coach Is…

June 19th, 2018

“George, you throw like a girl!” rang in my ears as my Little League coach told me to throw like “a boy.”

Unfortunately, for many of us, that was our only exposure to coaches, the loud ones, ready to discipline and highlight your mistakes.

Decades later, I still don’t know what he meant. He never explained to me how to pitch a ball in a way that made sense.  I also didn’t givehim a chance to coach me further.

His shouting, his aggressive commands and the chaos at practice was too much for me to stay in the team.  I quit Little League and was done with sports for the rest of my life.  Don’t ask me whether the Lambs or Demons won the latest basketball championship, or which animal team won big at the Super Bowl. I don’t have a clue.

Fortunately, some of you have fond memories of sports.  You had enthusiastic coaches who encouraged and instilled sportsmanship in you.

That was my brother’s case.  He thrived in the structed and demanding world of sports. Being pushed and challenged was fun for him.  He thrived in competitive settings.

Although I didn’t stick to sports, I did establish myself in the business coaching field.

What is a business coach?

A business coach guides business folks into being the best they can be whether they are CEOs, business owners, executives, managers or employees.  The team is the whole company and the players are the employees.

At Raleigh Consulting Group, our clients are all the above…and sometimes, their family members, too.

The key to our coaching engagement is that the client must be willing and personally committed to be coached.  Remember my quitting Little League? I didn’t want it.

There was no one who could have forced me to continue.  And no one can force you to seek a coach, either.

To introduce clients to what coaching is, I first tell them what coaching isn’t:

  • It is not a performance evaluation before you get put in probation.
  • It is not a session to gossip, vent, and trash-talk your organization or coworkers, although that happens sometimes, I always bring it back to how are YOU going to manage this situation or person?
  • It isn’t a time to be chastised or be yelled at on behalf of a superior.

This is a typical business coaching session:

 

A coach gets agreement on the objectives of the coaching engagement.  Sometimes, bosses and/or direct reports might be initially included.  He/she actively listens and reflects what the client is saying. Aha moments come faster when there’s two minds problem solving.

At Raleigh Consulting Group, we always make sure that what-ever we discuss, personal and professional, will remain confidential.  Imagine having someone with whom you get non-judgmental help with on your big decisions; taking a promotion or leaving the company, as an example.

A coach offers self-understanding and helps bring out the best in people:
Most people have a good sense of who they are but in new situations, around new people, or in stress, we don’t act as well as when things are predictable, we don’t perform as powerfully as with those we already know.  We use assessment tools to quickly and efficiently offer a well of insight into your working style.  From there, we create a plan for your future performance.  Together, we identify what is missing, how to find resources and how to allocate time or money to obtain those tools that will help us work smarter.  Of course, we build on your strengths.

A coach offers ideas and resources not always solutions:
Often, people think that coaches have all the solutions and that they should offer them right away.  That is not the case with our style of coaching. (There are coaches who are Subject Matter Experts). We don’t know all the solutions for all the industries in the world. We offer a view of the bigger picture. Sometimes, as business owners, we’re too busy working in our business and forget to work on the business.  My 39 years of experience has helped me gain knowledge and wisdom and that has made it easier to identify patterns and offer guidance.

A coach guides through encouragement:
This is a quality shared among the best coaches.  Sometimes our clients are too self-critical. Their own expectations are too rigid. Sometimes, they feel like they must please everyone and solve everyone’s problems.  At times, their own sense of self is low, and they compensate by becoming work-acholic. In such instances, we amplify the great qualities their team recognizes in them.  We work on building their inner strength and rescilience. We sometimes are that buffer of support for when they are confronted with resistance to change. At such times, we are both their coach and cheerleader.

A coach helps you be accountable:
Who will help you track your goals and set expectations?  We don’t like spending time with clients who huff and puff about their ego and how good they are.  Everyone needs someone who will help them stick to their stated goals and the changes they promised to make.  Many clients come stressed when they’ve had it with a VP who constantly goes behind their backs and leads teams in a different direction than agreed upon, or when two business partners can no longer hear each other due to shouting and cancelled meetings.  We are there to remind them that our coaching sessions should stay in the calendar because sometimes neglect leads to recurrence of inter-personal conflict or self-sabotage.

We help people work more confidently and play better with others.  Our clients have said that their positive behavioral changes are noticed at home, too. Personally, that gives me great joy, to know that we could all work, play and live better together.

Who is the best candidate for coaching? It’s not the person who is under stress or who’s team or company is not getting along.  It is not just the ones who need coaching.  It’s the ones who want it.   Maybe I would enjoy sports now if I had found the right coach who’d encouraged and brought out the best in me.

Take care,

George Alwon

Clients

February 27th, 2018

 

People regularly ask us “who are your clients?” The answer is broad.  We help people work better together is not just a tagline.  it is truly what we do.  We’re business consultants.  In this sense, any business or organization with employees and leaders qualifies.  Throughout decades, Raleigh Consulting Group has worked with businesses big and small, next door and abroad.  As small as less than 10 employees and as big as a few thousand workers. The field in which these businesses are in–bio pharma, education, insurance, finance, marketing, doesn’t matter because we won’t come in and tell you how to create better medicine or what financial strategies to develop.  Instead, we focus on our field of expertise; people, business strategies, leadership, teams, among other business categories.

 

Most business owners and top leadership are often too focused on the day-to-day tasks of running their business (as they should be) that they overlook the morale of their organization.  They don’t notice that their departments aren’t communicating well.  Sometimes they miss the mark when it comes to inspiring and empowering their employees to do their best, independently, until problems arise. Few potential clients reach out when profits are high and when employee turn-over is down.  Most call when there is a “people problem”:  Recently hired employees keep quitting, unexpectedly.  A new employee is clashing with an existing colleague.  Individuals in the organization are rejecting and fear change.  It is exciting to see that many companies are starting to see that investing in their teams is just part of building their businesses.  Because if they don’t develop and enrich their teams, they’ll leave for an organization that will.

 

Our ideal client is a decision maker within the organization: A CEO, President, Founder, a VP.  Once an issue that affects people in your organization is identified, it is critical to get right to work and find a solution. Reach out today! There’s no issue too sensitive or too big.  It’s likely that what-ever you or your business is facing, we’ve encountered it before and have solutions.  We’ll help you get through it.

Have You Found Your Inner-Purpose?

October 10th, 2017

“I’m not enjoying my work.” “This is not motivating.”

I’ve heard these words so many times from employees, managers and even executives with whom I work.

“But if I leave my current position, I don’t know what to do.”

They, like all of us at some point in our lives, wonder: “What is my purpose?”  “What should I be doing?”

This Harvard Business Review article prompts 5 questions to ask yourself as you start the process of discovering your inner purpose. I encourage you to answer the questions yourself.  Finding what you’re passionate about may be a life-long process.  Now is the perfect time to begin.  As a consultant, I’ve learned to help clients identify what drives them.  And then we try to align their drivers with what they are good at and what they enjoy.  This creates a sense of purpose and flow.

Don’t be afraid to go deep and to be honest about what you enjoy. If you’re having trouble with what you’re good at, ask someone you trust. They will tell you.  Share your answers with those you’re closest to. It may strengthen your relationship.

Here are my answers:

1. What are you good at doing?

Listening to people. Growing up, I felt insecure about opening up to others.  Instead of speaking, I found it easier to listen.  People love to talk about themselves.  Eventually, I noticed that listening allows me to connect better with business owners to factory employees. Within this context, I can be supportive or a helpful coach.

2. What do you enjoy?

I love one-on-ones with people.  We can dig in and get to the root of who we are and what life is all about.  Often, we’re not mindful about our interactions with others. The question “How are you?” is too readily asked without waiting for a real answer or listening to the tone and noticing the body-language of a person.

We can all recall friends saying “I’m okay” without really sounding so.  Upon further inquiry, they explain that they are going through difficult personal times and that it is affecting their performance at work.  These conversations are hard to have in groups or in large spaces, that’s why I enjoy one-on-ones.

Another favorite is coaching others. I remember coaching someone who was complaining that his daughter dropped out of an expensive Ivy League college.  He was angry at her for wasting his hard-earned money.  Coaching helped him realize that it wasn’t the money.  He explained that he goes to a gym with several other men who graduated from Ivy League schools as did their children.  It forced him to address his working-class roots which he was hiding all along.  Once he recognized it, he was no longer angry at his daughter but more at himself for being so ashamed of his upbringing.  He then began to be proud of who he is and where he came from.

3. What feels most useful?

Positive feedback energizes me. Hearing from my clients that our interventions improve how people work and play together or that they made personal breakthroughs resulting in a more meaningful life means a lot to me. It guides my work and drives me to do more.

4. What creates a sense of forward momentum?

Photo of the pond in my backyard

Photo of the pond in my backyard.

 

 

Paradoxically, when I am sitting on my back porch surrounded by the sounds of nature and feeling the warmth of the sun, I get energized.  I’m constantly busy with colleagues and clients. Having quiet moments to myself during the day increases my joy and makes me feel alive.

5. How do you relate to others?

I choose to see the best in them.  Yes, I know there are some people who are mean spirited.  Until that is proven to me, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Each person has a unique something about them.  I love finding that out.

So, what does all this mean? To me it means that I have found the right fit between who I am as a person and how I engage with the world around me.  In Maslow’s language, I feel self-actualized!  You can too!

-George Alwon

A Decision I Made 38 Yrs. Ago

April 12th, 2017

 

38 years ago, I decided to start my own business because I knew working for someone else didn’t feel right for me. I am too independent and at times don’t play well with others. More importantly, the inhumanity of some workplaces struck me when working with different companies. Working in sterile environments, shouldn’t mean having to be sterile, ourselves. Business consulting seemed to be a way for me to help people work better together and maximize their potential.

The person to inspire me to work for myself was my Aunt Yvonne. She had chronic arthritis. She was confined to a wheel chair. Yet, wrote a column for the local newspaper, sold cosmetics and Christmas cards all from her wheelchair. She inspired me to work independently. As a child, I sold cards at Christmas time with her.

I was nervous about starting my own business because I lacked money, a PhD and had yet to write a book. In my first year, I sought out the advice of a retired executive to help me. He was 80 years old. His approach annoyed the hell out of me because he kept asking “why?” Well, my answer was because I said so. My shallow response wasn’t satisfactory to him and he forced me to think about how our customers can benefit from our services.

 

So, I asked myself how selling Christmas cards as a teenager helped my then customers? The answer:– I made it easy for them, they didn’t have to sign their names and write their addresses on the envelops. It was printed.  Aha! That was my signature; make it easy for my customers!

My father was my role model for owning a business. My dad supported my family with Alwon Electric Co. He, like me, was just a good technician who worked for himself. He always had a small team helping him. He showed me, by example, how important it is to treat employees like peers and friends. His customers were loyal to him because he cared about them as people, not just as clients.

On the first stages of building my business I struggled because I didn’t know what I was selling and didn’t have confidence in my abilities. Yes, I could sell cards as a kid. But now I had to sell more complex and expensive products.

I wanted to quit when people weren’t buying. My biggest mistake was trying to sell to the wrong person–the gatekeepers: Personnel (these were the people who ran HR in the past). They listened, got excited and challenged me. Yet, no one bought anything! I had the wrong buyer and I didn’t know how to sell. What a horrible and depressing combination that was for me.

What motivated me was simple…I did not want to fail. Down deep, like my Aunt Yvonne, I knew that to succeed I had to have relationships. All I needed was a few solid business friends and things could take off. Not having kids or a husband to support made this easier for me. My Aunt Yvonne kept a happy face and remained persistent despite overwhelming obstacles. My dad built his business while supporting my mom, my siblings, and me.

I knew we could do good with the great leadership training and assessment programs we offered. So, my partners and I kept at it. With persistence, I began to find the right buyers. I prioritized getting in front of people who had the authority and budget to invest in their teams. These leaders (managers and business owners) also wanted someone they could confide in, a mediator to help with people problems, a coach who could help motivate and energize their staff. Yes, they wanted a consultant… like me. Business owners, as they’ve always been, were busy with building or selling and didn’t have time for the softer part of business. They liked our style. It worked!

For those wanting to start a business, I’d suggest you find your personal style, be persistent and genuine with those you work. My guess is that what you start out with may not be what you end up doing. If you listen to your customers, then you will find that as the market, technology and times change, so should you.

I watched my Aunt work on her phone from her wheelchair. She could hardly hold the phone, yet she spent many hours talking with people and building relationships that lasted a lifetime. And they bought from their friend Yvonne.

Without relationships, your sales are only transactional. With solid relationships, your impact can be transformational.