Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for June, 2008

How many hours are too many hours?

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague a few days ago. She shared with me that since taking a new position two years ago, she’s much happier with her work and her stress level has decreased significantly. Yet she’s working more hours and has a fuller plate than she has in the past.

She said her husband told her recently that although he’s noticing the increase in hours she spends working, he’s enjoying seeing her happy. And, he mentioned that the shift in her mood and outlook has been great for their family life. She agrees that it feels great to have some passion and excitement about her work and she’s finding more joy with her family and in her life in general, than she has in years.

So How many hours are too many hours? may not be the question. The more signficiant question may be: How much unhappiness is too much unhappiness?

Choosing a Coach? A few things to consider…

Thinking about hiring a professional coach? Need a consultant with specific areas of expertise? If you decide to explore this as a professional or personal development option, or to support your strategic plans, here are a few things you may want to consider:

Ask around. Your colleagues may have feedback relating to consultants or coaches they have personally worked with or heard of.

• You may choose to interview more than one candidate before making any commitments. Most candidates will (should) be willing to meet with you free of charge for at least an hour, if not more, to discuss your needs and share details about their services and experience. An experienced consultant or coach realizes that they may not be the perfect match for every person or need. Also keep in mind that in today’s environment, it’s not unusual for individuals to hire professionals remotely, where communications are done by phone and email.

 Ask for client referrals — and then take the time to call them. At the very least ask for testimonials. You’ll be making a significant investment, financially and personally. Learn as much as you can about the candidate’s integrity and successes. Even in light of confidentiality, there are generally a few clients who offer to serve as referrals or who may have already offered written testimonials.

Feel free to ask for the proposed coaching/consulting plan in writing. Your candidate should have no problem documenting his/her understanding of your immediate goals and desired outcomes, as well as preliminary recommendations for an assessment and a coaching/consulting plan. The proposal should also include estimated timelines and costs.

After meeting with a candidate, ask yourself these questions —

Is this someone I can see myself looking to for advice?

Is this someone who I believe won’t hesitate to challenge me when I may need it?

– Does this person’s areas of expertise, best match my current needs?

– Do I get a sense of the candidate’s willingness to be flexible?

– Do our life and work philosophies seem to be aligned?

Do I feel there is a comfortable yet professionally stimulating chemistry between us?

If you’ve followed these guidelines and answered yes to all of the above questions, you’re prepared to make your choice. Once you do, get ready for what should be one of the most rewarding professional and personal investments of your life.

Try flipping it over.

I was in a conversation with someone earlier this week as she was sharing how she might address a concern she has with a co-worker. The co-worker has repeatedly generated inaccurate or missed information on paperwork.

She mentioned how she might simply stick to the business impact. —She’d let her know that filling out the paperwork inaccurately causes inefficiencies that are negatively impacting the promised product delivery date. 

Although I commended her for focusing on the business impact, I suggested she take the statement and flip it over allowing a more positive approach. She might let her co-worker know that the reason she’s concerned is that accurate paperwork is key to the process moving along efficiently and the customer receiving product by promised target dates.

So if you find yourself preparing for a difficult conversation, try flipping it over. Maybe it’ll help the conversation take a more positive turn.