Feedback is very useful for telling us “where we are.” Without it, I couldn’t work with my clients. I wouldn’t know what the people around my client think about what he or she needs to change. Likewise, without feedback, we wouldn’t know if were getting better or worse. We all need feedback to see where we are, where we need to go, and to measure our progress along the way. And I have a foolproof method for securing it.
When I work with coaching clients, I always get confidential feedback from their coworkers at the beginning of the process. I enlist each person to help me out. I want them to assist, not sabotage, the change process. I do this by saying to them, “I’m going to be working with my client for the next year. I don’t get paid if she doesn’t get better. Better is not defined by me; it is not defined by her. It is defined by you and the other coworkers involved in the process.” I then present them with four requests. I ask them to commit to:
I always use the same proven process. At the beginning of any coaching relationship, I get an agreement with my coaching clients and their managers on two key variables:
- What are the key behaviors that will make the biggest positive change in increased leadership effectiveness, and
- Who are the key stakeholders that can determine (six to eighteen months later) if these changes have occurred?
Then I get paid only after my coaching clients have achieved positive change in key leadership behaviors and become more effective leaders. Unlike many other coaches, I do not get paid if my clients do not get better. And, as noted above, better is not determined by me, it is not determined by my clients, it is determined by my client’s key stakeholders. It is in this “pay-for-results” fee arrangement that I truly stand out from other coaches.
Paying only for results is a good way to test if someone really believes what they’re teaching you. Ask them one question, “Do you want to bet on it?” If they say, “I believe it but I wouldn’t bet on it,” they don’t believe it that much. If they say, “Here’s the money,” they believe it! My coaching process is based on something I believe in and I bet on it every time!
Many coaches are paid for the wrong reasons. Their income is a largely a function of “How much do my clients like me?” and “How much time did I spend in coaching?” Neither of these is a good metric for achieving a positive, long-term change in behavior.
In terms of liking the coach, I have never seen a study that showed that clients’ love of a coach was highly correlated with their change in behavior. In fact, if coaches become too concerned with being loved by their clients. They may not provide honest feedback when it is needed.
In terms of spending clients’ time — my coaching clients’ are all executives whose decisions impact billions of dollars — their time is more valuable than mine. I try to spend as little of their time as necessary to achieve the desired results. The last thing they need is for me to waste their time!
How do you stand out? What makes you special? What are you willing to bet on? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please send me a message on LinkedIn! I am looking forward to your comments.