GREAT IDEAS FOR ENTREPRENEURS FROM THE THOUGHT LEADERS AT CASEY NEILON
Coaching is about intentionally building relationships of trust with your employees so they are set up for success, feel more connected to your company and make a long-term and heart-felt commitment.
How We Handle Coaching
I think it’s important to point out that the smaller the company, usually the easier it is to coach people. This effort requires a significant time commitment from staff and from senior people doing the coaching. But I believe it’s worth it. If you have a large company with hundreds or thousands of employees, you’d likely need to modify your efforts from the way we’ve done it.
Our approach to coaching includes these steps:
- We identified three people to be coaches within our firm based on their individual skillsets, their experience and their personalities. I am one of the coaches. This ensures that no one person is overwhelmed with the job of coaching staff.
- We set aside one hour for each coaching session. Some sessions go longer, depending on what we are discussing.
- We made it our stated goal to coach everyone within our company. If people don’t want to do this, we don’t force them. But we find pretty much everyone wants to.
- We hold coaching sessions consistently, about every 6 weeks. Some employees want coaching sessions once a month, especially at the start of the process. Other employees are happy to meet every couple of months or once a quarter.
- Sessions are held off-site. Meeting in an environment away from the office sets an open and neutral tone.
- We have no formal agenda for each coaching session. We talk about what’s top of mind with each employee and give them a chance to ask us any questions they might be thinking about. Employees are given the chance to fill out a form before each session and I make notes on that form. This allows me to bring up those topics in future sessions to document our progress. At the end of the session, note cards are scanned to create a digital copy.
The Results For Our Company
I believe coaching has dramatically improved our business culture and our cohesion as a team. Our morale has never been stronger. Here are some of the benefits we’ve seen:
- I now know our staff so much better. This helps me work with them on a day-to-day basis and to understand where they are coming from.
- Our staff know what we’re thinking about as leaders. This reduces anxiety and unspoken concerns that sometimes hinder productivity.
- Our staff feel much more connected to us and know that we value them. This means they can come to us with any topic or issue.
- Problems get identified a lot faster and resolved more effectively. This has helped prevent small conflicts from turning into bigger issues.
- Even in periods of high stress, we perform well as a team. This is especially important for our busy tax season.
- We are much better now at identifying how to help our people improve their careers because we understand what they want to achieve. This means that even if someone is not a good fit for our firm, for whatever reason, we are invested in helping them find something that is more suitable for them.
- Our turn-over rate, which was already relatively low, is even lower now.
Some Considerations For Adopting A Coaching Program
Here are some ideas for you to consider as you think about how to implement coaching at your company:
- Set goals for what you want coaching to do for your organization. Do you want to reduce turnover, improve morale, enhance productivity or identify and resolve problems faster? I recommend that you document what you want coaching to do for your firm and then structure your program to achieve those goals.
- Be careful with who you pick to be coaches. They should be confidants with a demonstrated history of trustworthiness, as well as a high degree of emotional intelligence.
- Be careful about the expectations you set. Coaching shouldn’t be a complaining session. It can be an opportunity to identify problems, but it should ultimately leave the employee feeling uplifted and positive about themselves and the company.
- Consider the HR implications. Depending on what is discussed in the sessions, make sure any delicate matters are handled accordingly.
- Hire carefully. Coaching produces the best results when you’ve hired carefully and are prepared to really invest in your people for the long-term.
- Take it in stages. Don’t feel as if you have to coach the entire organization from day one. Consider implementing coaching one team or department at a time.
- Consider how you will measure progress. Even though coaching is an investment in soft-skills, you can still track progress with hard numbers. If your goal is to reduce turnover, this should be imminently measurable. The same could be true for enhancements in productivity.
Our organization has definitely benefitted from the coaching initiative we’ve put in place. But this has been paired with changes in our interviewing process to ensure we are hiring people who are a good long-term fit for our business. This has also required a substantial time commitment from me and the other coaches at Casey Neilon. I have no regrets about doing this because I know we are now a stronger organization and better equipped to serve our clients for the long-term. I also learned a lot about our team and developed deeper, more meaningful personal relationships with them. If you’d like to know more about how coaching can help your business, let’s talk.
Darsi Casey – CPA, MST, MANAGING SHAREHOLDER
They call me the Managing Shareholder at Casey Neilon. I see myself as the chief problem solver. I get the privilege of working with fascinating people with a wide variety of backgrounds and problems… this is what fires me up! I have been managing our firm and serving clients in this capacity since founding the firm in 2006 and have been practicing in public accounting since 1989. As an experienced entrepreneur myself, i have learned that the best way to predict the future is to create it (I borrowed that quote from Abe Lincoln).