To grow your direct sales or party plan business you need to nurture people in your team to leadership.
But how do you know who to invest your time in? How do you know who the next leader is?
I have a fabulous download below that will help you with that!
In my experience from promoting dozens and dozens of team members to leadership ranks within my business, I’ve found that there are a few critical things to keep in mind.
So let me share what I’ve observed over the years in the direct sales industry.
Always work on nurturing a few team members at a time to wards leadership.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! Sometimes things change in people’s lives and they step back from their party plan business or become less active. You don’t want to feel like you have to start all over with a new potential leader when they do. And by you not putting all your investment and hope in one person, you also put less pressure (or neediness) on your potential leaders. It’s a better situation for you and them.
Be careful with who you invest your valuable time in.
If they’re not matching your efforts and actively showing you with their actions (not just their words) that they are working towards leadership, don’t continue to invest your time in them. Sometimes people ‘talk the talk’ but don’t ‘walk the walk’. In that case, just give them your ‘normal’ support for team members but stop your careful nurturing towards leadership.
Before you invest your time in someone, complete the leadership assessment to ensure their attitude, actions, and results are aligned. I’ve adapted an assessment form for you from the ‘Build it Big Workbook’ produced by the DSWA. Download the assessment form below. Go through the form for your potential leaders. If the score is below 7, I don’t consider them ready for my focused attention towards leadership.
However, the assessment should have given you a good idea on the areas they most need to improve. If you help them to build up in those areas, they might quickly become ready to work towards leadership with you!
You can also encourage your potential leaders to fill out the form themselves as a self-assessment to help them identify areas they want to improve. I suggest though, that you keep your personal assessment of each potential leader private. Sometimes these things can hurt people’s feelings and that’s not what it’s for!
I’d love to hear how you identify potential leaders in your team and if you have any tips to share with us. Let us know in the comments!
The biggest mistake I see new leaders in the direct sales industry make is to make it all about themselves and their own targets, instead of their team and their targets.
Being a leader means you make it about your team, not about yourself.
I’ve seen leaders fumble through the month and only contact their team members in the last week to find out how many sales they’re going to place so they now if they’re going to hit their target that month…..
As you know I’m a planner so watching a leader operate that way makes me itchy all over. But the worst is that that call at the end of the month is not to benefit those team members. And they know it because they’re not stupid.
So today I’d like to share with you 8 pieces of advice on being a nurturing, inspiring leader.
Talk less and listen more. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but there’s a truth here. You need to make it about them, not you! Listen, really listen, to your team members.
Stop trying to fix everything.
Some things are out of your control and that’s okay. You don’t have to be superwoman – just a sympathetic (and encouraging) ear.
Know that your team member has the answer that’s right for them.
Learn to see your team members’ amazing qualities. We have a wide range of personalities in our teams and each person has a different way of working and communicating. As a leader, always look for the best in your teamies. Sometimes our faith in them leads them to discover amazing things about themselves!
Know their ‘why’ or their goal.
Remind them regularly of why they are in direct sales or what particular goal they’re striving to achieve. Sometimes life gets in the way or they go too far out of their comfort zone and slip back into habits that won’t move their business forward. Gentle reminders and encouragement from you will help them to step up again.
Let them choose the action steps they’re going to take.
You can discuss options with them, share your experiences and tips but in the end they have to walk their own path to success. By letting them set their own goals and action steps, they take ownership of the process and they are so much more likely to actually do the work. (Also see this article on coaching)
Help your team members to feel successful.
Helping your team members feel successful will help them become successful. The more you recognize and celebrate the small wins along the way, the better they feel. Success breeds success (read more about this phenomenon in this article).
Make it all about them!
Take responsibility for your own direct selling business without putting pressure on your team members to meet your targets. Be inspiring, encouraging, nurturing and helpful. Always make it about them – not about your business or your goals.
Let go of the outcome and enjoy the process.
I suppose this is a bit Zen in a way – to detach from the outcome. Setting goals is important, sure, but in the end you want to enjoy the process. When you work with your team in this way it’s a pleasure. You’ll find joy in seeing them shine and grow and your direct sales team will thrive.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
I wonder which one resonated with you the most? And do you have some leadership advice to add?
How is your direct selling team doing? Is your team growing?
If you are working hard but your team is not growing and you feel like you’re not getting ahead, you might be doing one of these 3 things that’s holding you back.
1) Your team’s focus depends on your focus!
If your goal is to increase the size of your team but you only mention sponsoring once at the start of the month, you’re not likely to inspire any growth.
To keep the team focused on sponsoring you can offer regular training on sponsoring. Make sure you use a variety of training options such as Facebook Live, Zoom, webinars, or face-to-face sessions to cater to all your team members.
Another idea is to post regular tips in your team Facebook group to remind your team of the techniques that work and to keep them focused on sponsoring.
Also create exciting recognition for team members that do recruit. You could feature them in a “My Story” section in a newsletter or on Facebook, you can create beautiful awards, you can send postcards in the mail for a personal touch, you can hold a Facebook Live and shine a spotlight on all your high achievers.
What you recognize gets repeated so you want to make a big deal out of recruiting.
2)Discipline is a required trait for success! This is not negotiable. If you’re inconsistent, your team will likely be inconsistent too.
For example, if you say you’re going to do a weekly recognition but you only manage to do it once or twice a month, you won’t inspire your team.
Another example is cancelling meetings. It’s understandable that you might want to cancel meetings or training sessions due to low numbers. But don’t do it! If your team expects meetings or training sessions to be cancelled, why would they set aside the time to attend?
When I was establishing a team in a new area I drove nearly 4 hours each way to run meetings and training sessions. I did this for 2 years. I regularly turned up to fewer than 5 people. But I ran my meetings and training sessions anyway and did the best I could for my small audience. Over time the numbers increased and I built a strong team and fabulous leaders.
Whether you’re running face-to-face or online meetings, you might have to live with low attendance for a while. But if you persist and you are consistent, it will pay off.
3)Don’t just build a team, build a community! Is there a sense of community in your direct sales team? Grab the printable below to assess how your team is doing in terms of community.
If your team members feel connected and made welcome in your team, they’re more likely to stay and more likely to participate in challenges, training, meetings, etc. The more they participate and the happier they are with their direct sales tribe, the better they’ll perform.
If you are focused and consistent and build your team into a warm community, you will attract more team members!
Sometimes teams (or parts of teams) lose their mojo. They grow stale and inactive. They’ve lost the spark.
Are you part of such a team? Or are you a leader with this problem?
Here’s the solution to kick-start a team back into action: hold a mega party!
Mega parties will help an inactive team to get a lot of sales quickly, but more importantly get bookings and potential new team members to get their business rolling again.
What is a Mega Party?
Mega parties are large parties where multiple team members book tables that they are responsible for filling with guests. Sales and bookings are taken by the consultant who’s invited that guest.
Usually there’s one person (a team leader perhaps) that runs the party while the team members at each table make sure they have a relevant products, samples, and information available for the guests.
To make your mega party a success here are some tips:
Excite Your Team
A Mega Party will only work if your team is excited to make it a success. That means that if you’re the driver behind the party, you’ll need to be excited and put a little energy into getting your team behind the idea.
Lucky Door Prize Who doesn’t like a Lucky Door Prize? Have each team member contribute a low value product to create a Lucky Door Prize. Also use some of the products as booking incentives or prizes for games during the party.
If you need to cover costs you may need to charge a small fee. You can use an online booking site such as Trybooking or Eventbee to let guests buy tickets. Or you can have your team members sell tickets for their tables.
You might think guests won’t want to pay to attend, but if you keep the fee low and the value of the party high, you won’t find it a problem. You can offer value in terms of discounts or free products, but also consider make-overs, allowing guests to try out (new) products, or informative demonstrations.
An advantage of charging a small fee is that guests that have booked are more likely to attend. You’ll find that cancellations and no-shows won’t be a big problem.
In the ticket price I like to include a glass of champagne for each guest for that special party feeling.
Mega Parties are a great use of your time as they not only reinvigorate your team but you can make personal sales too. Make sure you keep a table for your own personal guests so you can make some sales at the event too.
Other uses for Mega Parties
For new team members: New team members may lack the confidence or skills to secure bookings from their parties. They may also not yet feel confident enough to talk about the business opportunity. Mega Parties are a fabulous tool to help them out. Not only will this help your new team members’ business, they also get to watch you run a party and learn from you.
New catalog launches: A new catalog is a fabulous ‘excuse’ to hold a Mega Party. The attraction for guests is that they get to sample new products and have a look at the new catalog.
Fundraisers: Mega Parties are a great way to do a fundraising event. You could choose to donate a percentage of your profits or ticket sales. Just make it clear to your guests how you are contributing to the charity.
To get started, call your inactive team members today to get them excited. Then get organizing!
I remember when the internet was still new and shiny (…did I just reveal my age?) and we used to talk about how it would create a “global village”.
Well, I think it’s here now, that global village.
I have friends on the other side of the world who I see and talk to regularly (thank you Facetime). I order shoes from China without any hassles. I do educational courses with teachers in the US and the UK and I’m loving it.
With the advances in technology, we can have truly global workplaces and global direct selling teams.
But not all direct sales companies agree.
Why is the direct selling industry slow to embrace the global village?
I’ve spoken to many people in the direct selling industry who believe that physical proximity to leaders is vital.
I don’t agree. I don’t think distance makes a difference in the level of support you can provide.
I believe what makes a difference is personal contact and attention. And you can do that either in-person or through other means.
I came into this industry with a Masters Degree in Education and I majored in Distance Education. Which is perhaps why I am biased
It was a real surprise to me when I started in direct sales that so many companies were reluctant to let their consultants expand their team outside their immediate home area or recruit internationally.
I do understand that a consultant’s largest base of influence is usually in their local area, but with social media being such a part of everyone’s life, our influence can be global now.
If I can get a university degree entirely online, if I can consult a doctor or therapist entirely online, if I can be operated on by a surgeon who’s in another country, why has the direct sales industry been so slow to embrace the global village?
OK. Rant over.
If you ARE part of a direct sales or party plan company that allows international expansion or if you support teams within your own country but in different areas, I’ve got a few tips for you on how to do that effectively.
Tools, tips & tricks for supporting a global team
While I was writing this article, I actually sat down to have a think about how many people in my organisation I’ve met in person. And it turns out that it’s only 10 percent!
I have worked with and supported several leaders for some time before I finally met them in person. And there are still several of my “rising stars” (up and coming leaders) that I’ve never met.
And although I’d love to meet them in person, I don’t feel it’s hampering my relationship with them or impacting my level of support.
I do run in-person events with my local team members. And although I really love running these events and catching up with my local team, realistically I only reach a very small percentage of my organisation. If I had relied only on physical proximity with team members in my business, I would not be where I am today!
So, how can you connect with your team at a distance? Let’s have a look at some tools:
I love using Zoom‘s videoconferencing software. It’s a great tool to run training events online or work with individual team members online . You can hold meetings and all participants can see each other and interact. You can also run a training session where all participants see you or see a slideshow you’re using.
I record the meetings and training sessions so that team members who couldn’t attend can catch up afterwards.
Pricing for Zoom starts at $0
Another great tool is Calendly. It’s a scheduling tool that integrates with lots of calendars and sends out notifications. Using Calendly will make your life easier as a leader as it stops back-and-forth emailing or messaging about setting a time for a coaching call or meeting. All you need to do is send people to Calendly where you’ve set your availability and they can pick a slot and ‘book in’.
Calendly can also adjust for time-zones, which is helpful in working out what time suits people in their local time.
Pricing for Calendly starts at $0
I use Facebook to communicate with my team and focus groups. I set up secret or closed groups and invite my team members to the group. I have a few leaders that help me as moderators, answering questions and keeping things positive and helpful.
If you want to use a different communications tool, you can use Slack. This tool allows you to communicate in different channels, which can help to separate topics out. For example you could have a Party channel for questions and ideas for parties, a News channel where you can share company news, upcoming sales, and updates, a Booking channel where you can talk about bookings, etc.
You can share files with your team, have a video chat with team members straight from the app, you can set-up private channels for certain groups only, you can send private messages, and it has a fabulous archive and search feature.
Slack works on your desktop computer and your phone and pricing starts at $0.
These are all great tools…but tools alone don’t make for success.
I’ve recently had an experience of how not to support across the globe. I’m a member of an international association with members from around the world. I absolutely love their training and resources but their live video chat sessions are always scheduled at 4am my local time. And they don’t always record the sessions either.
This means I always miss out live and often can’t even catch up on the discussions via the replay! So I feel a bit left out.
My fabulous friend Rochelle Nicole has also had an experience of not being supported that well and has taken a few lessons from that and shares them with us. Check this quick 3-minute video:
The following 3 tips help to make sure your team members don’t feel left out:
When you are scheduling meetings or training sessions, be mindful of time zones. Make sure that you schedule at least one session every quarter that suits a particular time zone. This probably means you’ll have to stay up later or get up extra early but it means the world to people in those time zones. This way everybody will be offered a live meeting or training with you at least once a quarter.
Always record your sessions so you can make it available to the relevant team members for later viewing. Even if they couldn’t make it to the live session, they can at least watch the session later and not completely miss out.
When talking to a team member individually, try to use video chat. It’s so much better to be able to see each other than just having a phone call. There are so many free ways to organize a video chat that there should really always be an option. A quick and dirty list of free video calling apps: Zoom, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. (And this is of course where a scheduling service like Calendly comes in super handy!)
And finally, don’t forget good old email. A personal message is greatly appreciated even though it sometimes feels that email is on its way out in this day and age.
If you want to truly make someone’s day, perhaps because they’ve just achieved a major goal, use snail mail. There’s really nothing like checking your mailbox and finding a handwritten envelope with a letter or a certificate. It truly feels special when someone has taken the time to write especially to you, it’s an extra bit of attention that is greatly valued.
You can support team members who are geographically dispersed through clever use of online tools and a bit of planning.
The important thing to remember is personal attention. But this doesn’t have to be in the same room. A video call will work just as well.
Don’t forget email and old fashioned post. They still matter and they’re still valued.
I have always been fascinated by personality types and different quizzes to find out what personality type you are. So when I came across a personality quiz specifically designed to help direct sellers, I jumped at it instantly.
The quiz was developed by the fabulous Mary Christensen. In her book you’ll find 8 personality types, but I’ve found these four the most common and helpful to distinguish:
Peacocks Peacocks are the most colorful of all the personalities. They are enthusiastic, spontaneous, and passionate. They follow their instincts, radiate warmth, and make friends easily. Peacocks are drawn to the limelight. They talk a lot, often speak fast and may embellish a story for dramatic effect.
Doves Doves are the most sensitive of all personalities. They are caring, nurturing, and kind. Doves bring harmony to any group because they are thoughtful, considerate, and tolerant of all viewpoints. They will turn away from disagreement rather than hurt someone’s feelings.
Eagles Eagles are the most driven of all personalities. They live to win. Eagles are confident, ambitious and assertive. They won’t stop until they get what they want.
Owls Owls are the most observant of all the personalities. They are fascinated by facts, figures, and detail. They are sincere and reliable and sometimes a little pedantic.
Oh no! I’m a Peacock
The first time I took this quiz, I was identified as a “Peacock” and I was not happy about it. I had considered myself a more nurturing “Dove” type and now I was a flashy Peacock.
But when I was honest with myself, I realized I really did love attention, recognition and loved seeing my name in print and being recognized on stage at company events. I was indeed a Peacock and ready to own it!
The next thought that went through my mind was about my team, I really wanted to know their personality types as well so I would know how to bring out the best in them. I asked them to complete the quiz as well and many did.
That the quiz uses birds to explain the various personality types was helpful to me. The associations are logical and very easy to remember so that was a big plus when it came to working with my team.
How I Applied the Personalities in My Direct Sales Biz
Understanding these different personality types made a massive difference to my business. It was the first time I really stopped to think about the fact that not everybody likes to do things the way that I do.
I knew that superficially, of course, but I hadn’t taken that knowledge to the next level and applied it consciously to managing myself or my team.
From then on I started offering different forms of recognition, taking into account that Owls and Doves often prefer a phone call or personal card in the mail over public recognition.
I also started delegating detailed tasks to Owls in my team, which draws upon their strengths and helped them to feel valued and.
I worked closely with Eagles to help them soar high but also develop patience with other personality types. I made an extra effort to shine the spotlight on the Peacocks, remembering that it wasn’t all about me.
I evolved into an Eagle
A few years later I took the quiz again and this time I had a new result. I had “evolved” into an Eagle. I was focused, goal oriented and a very high achiever. I had learned that consistency is the fastest way to success even though I’m still impatient.
Of course we all have aspects of each of the personality types within us. People are complex and beautiful beings, nobody is a one dimensional bird.
When I first took the quiz I realized I had very little “Owl” in me. I wasn’t very detail oriented and I wasn’t very organized. But, as they say, the first step in changing things is being aware of what you want to change. So I worked hard at increasing those skills over the years, to the point that I’m now extremely detail oriented and organized…although there is some room for improvement. I have to admit my office is usually messy and not very “owl-like”.
It is due to this quiz and – most importantly – the understanding of the different personality types for myself and my team that I was able to build a multi-million dollar business. It made me a better business woman and a better leader.
So, take a few minutes to take this quiz now. And then share it with your team! It’s a gift of knowledge that you can give yourself and others. It has the potential to change your life, just as it did mine.
When I started out in my party plan career I wasn’t even aware that it was something you could do as a career.
For 2 years I had been meandering along, doing parties and making a bit of spare cash, a bit of extra on top of what I earned in my “real” job. Then I attended a company event.
And everything changed.
I became incredibly motivated and I decided that next time I would be on stage because I would be the one receiving recognition.
Why company events are so important for direct sellers
An event is a massive booster for anybody in the direct selling industry because it makes people more excited to be part of the brand and this particular group of people.
It builds your team as they get to know each other better, cheer for each other, and support each other.
Then there’s the recognition.
Most direct selling companies provide recognition at events that’s super powerful. Powerful not just for the person being recognized but also for their peers.
Seeing someone you know recognized in very public way will increase your desire to also be recognized as well. And once you get that public recognition and feel that appreciation and sense of accomplishment, you’ll want more!
Company events can turn an average consultant into someone who’s excited to build her business, someone who spends more time and effort on her business, someone who’s excited to set goals and achieve them.
Company events are such a great way to increase people’s motivation that you want as many of your team as possible to attend the next company event.
So here are 5 tips to help you do just that.
Tips to get your direct sales team to the next company event
Tip 1: Go old school. As soon as the event is announced, send out personalized invites via snail mail to your teamies or alternatively just to the leaders.
In this era of Facebook messenger and emails, handwritten and mailed material stands out. It feels personal, it feels like someone cares, it makes the recipient feel special.
A nice snail mail invite will really add to the excitement and boost the chance that your team members will attend the event.
Tip 2: Facebook is your friend. You also want to post regular reminders on your team Facebook page or whatever other platform you are using to communicate with your team. But a reminder alone is not enough. To make Facebook reminders actually work, you need to include the registration link to the event. Every. Single. Time.
You want to make it easy for your team members to commit to the event the moment it pops up in their feed and they’ve got a spare minute. If your company does not require registration, set-up registration yourself for your team.
By registering, someone commits.
And if they’ve committed they will attend. And if they attend they get motivated to work harder on their business.
Tip 3: Eye candy. Put together a slideshow or video to inspire your team to attend. Photos from your company will work, but your own photos from previous events are even better. You can use iMovie to make “movie trailers”, Ripl to create social media videos, or you can Facebook’s carousel option for a slide show.
Tip 4: Use the power of peers. Seek testimonials from team members who have attended this event before. A video testimonial from a team member who’s enthusiastic, who talks about what they got out of it and why they recommend attending is incredibly powerful.
Peer recommendations work really well in both written and video form. Some team members will be comfortable recording a video, others might prefer a written testimonial and that is perfect. This way you can post a nice variety of recommendations to your team.
Tip 5: Get in their phone. Use SMS to send a personal text message. In the message you can include an inspiring image, a quick encouragement to attend and a direct link to the registration page.
Make the message a personal message from you, not a “corporate-y” message.
As you can see, I use a combination of ways to reach out to my team and I try to make it as personal as possible while still managing my time.
By letting other, enthusiastic team members help you with their testimonials and by using systems such as Facebook and group text I can still manage my time effectively.
All you need to do to grow your own leaders in your direct selling team, is some seeds, fertile soil, and water.
Add a dash of sunshine and you’ll have a brand new leader of your own in no time!
Ok…it’s perhaps a little more work than that but it’s infinitely rewarding to lead other people to become great leaders.
Like a gardener, it’s more important to regularly tend to your garden than to do a big lot of work twice a year.
Sow Leadership Seeds
Let’s start with seeds. It’s important to plant seeds for leadership in your direct sales team. People have to desire it before they will step up to become a leader. And it’s up to you to plant those seeds:
How easy do you make leadership look? Make it look doable. Show how much support there is in the company or the wider organization.
Make your leaders meetings, leader retreats or other special events exciting. Make them something that people want to be part of.
Talk about the extra cash you can make as a leader.
Help your team members to see themselves as a future leaders. Make them realize they could achieve leadership too.
Remind your team that you struggled at the start too, that it’s normal and that things do become easier.
Create Fertile Soil for Leaders to grow
Motivation is the fertile soil for the seeds to grow in.
At least 80% of success in the direct selling industry is about mindset. You have to provide ongoing motivation to help your team to believe in themselves. You can use motivational YouTube clips, provide a positive affirmation for the week ahead and generally show a positive and encouraging attitude in your team communications.
It’s also important to recognize achievements along the way. Don’t just celebrate the big milestones, but also the smaller steps and achievements. This is not only a great boost for the people being recognized, but provides motivation for the other team members to gain achievements as well.
Water your seedlings
Now that you’ve planted your seeds in fertile soil, you need to water them. You need to coach your (future) leaders. Coaching is not a talent but it’s a skill that can be learnt. Here are a few quick pointers:
GROW – In your coaching conversation think of the acronym GROW. It stands for Goals, Reality, Options, Way forward. These are the points you want to discuss with your team member in coaching conversations. Check the article on GROW for more information.
Have leadership as a vision but help team members stay on track with weekly (smaller stepping stone-) goals to prevent procrastination.
Keep in touch in between coaching calls. You can use emails, text messages, and quick 5 minute ‘powercalls’.
Give your seedlings Sunshine
Now it’s time to make sure your seedlings get some sunshine.
A great way to do this is to set-up focus groups. You can do this in Facebook or Slack or whatever means of team communication you use.
Make sure this focus group is separate from your main team group. It’s important that this is an exclusive group and feels exclusive to the members. I only open ‘entry’ to the focus groups once per quarter.
In the focus group you would provide more posts, more training, more recognition, more competitions, more motivation. And you encourage motivation and learning across the focus group among members themselves.
Tend to your garden
You need to continue to tend to your garden to help your seedlings to grow into confident party plan leaders.
To do this provide extra training. You can do some weekly short training sessions for your focus group, eg. 15 minute videos on a variety of topics that they will need to get to leadership. Ask the group what they need and organize a quick Facebook Live to talk through the topic.
Continue to provide ‘normal’ training for all your team members as well but make sure you don’t overload your seedlings with too much of a good thing.
Your future leaders also need goals and challenges to help them to grow. To do this you can set weekly challenges with prizes. This encourages regular activity and it encourages team members to try new things they might otherwise skip.
Examples of weekly challenges are to put up 5 promotional posters, sell as many special bundles or promotional items as they can, share weekly affirmations, or create and share a vision board.
Fertilize your future leaders for growth
Boost your seedlings’ growth with some fertilizer: hold annual retreats for ‘rising stars’.
On these retreats you need to blow their minds with great training. It’s also important that give them a taste of leadership events they would attend as leaders so they want to become leaders – fuel that desire so they will be motivated to achieve leadership.
Finally, I’d like to list some of the tools that you can use to help grow your new direct sales leaders:
Have you started coaching a team member? Are you finding that your coaching sessions are rambling on for too long? That they are fun but you can’t remember what you agreed upon? Do your coaching sessions end without an action plan?
Yes? You need GROW!
GROW is an acronym for Goal, Reality, Options (and Obstacles), and Way forward (or what will you do?). It’s a simple model that will help you to structure your coaching conversations to prevent them from becoming long rambling chats that don’t result in anything. And as much as you might enjoy catching up with the person you’re coaching, that’s a separate activity.
As a business person you must guard your time as your most valuable resource. And the best way to this is to use a defined structure. As a bonus, you’ll find that the person you’re coaching will also get more value out of a coaching call when you’re using GROW.
Start the conversation by looking at the goal that they are looking to achieve. Any goals that this person is setting must be SMART goals. Yep, another acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. To ensure it’s a SMART goal, ask a questions like: “How will we know that the goal is achieved?” “When will we know the goal is achieved?” “How does this goal fit with overall career objectives?” By answering these questions you pretty much automatically make it a SMART goal.
In this part of the conversation you help them explore their current reality or situation. Questions like “What steps have you already taken towards this goal?”, “What was the result of this?” or “What is happening now (with whom? When? Where? How often?)” During this phase, obstacles, and sometimes solutions, present themselves. This then naturally leads to the next step.
Options (and Obstacles)
Once you have a goal and a picture of the current reality, you need to look at the options to achieve the goal. Help your team member to brainstorm but don’t do it for them. Asking questions like “What else could you do?”, “What if this obstacle was removed, what could you do then?”, or “What do you need to stop doing to achieve this goal?”, “What are the advantages and disadvantages of that option?”, or “What obstacles stand in your way?” will be helpful to get them started.
From the previous brainstorm some viable options or first steps should emerge. Now you help them to establish how they will achieve the goal. Use questions such as: “What will you do (and when?)”, “How will you keep yourself motivated?”, or “When will you review your progress?” In this step you also decide when to get in touch again to review the progress.
I have been using the GROW model in my coaching conversations for nearly a decade. In the beginning I used to tear my hair out as coaching session after coaching session felt like the movie Groundhog Day. The goal was the same as last month, so was the reality. And another month had gone by without any progress.
Now that I’ve learned how to use the model properly my time management and the results are so much better!
So although GROW is great model to structure coaching conversations, there are 3 things to keep in mind to get the most out of it:
It’s super easy to slip into “expert mode” and tell them them what you think they should do. However if you do that, the person you’re coaching has no ownership over the process or the goals. Which means they have no real motivation to achieve the goals and do the work. So to make sure they own their goals and plans, you must let them come up with ideas. This also takes the pressure off you to be the expert with the magic answers.
Nurture them along the way. It’s important to frequently touch base to keep people on track in between coaching sessions. You could, for example, schedule a quick “power call” (3 to 4 minutes) to encourage them and see how they’re tracking. You can also use text messages or Facebook to check in with them. If you ask people to “keep you posted” and put the ball in their court, chances are you won’t speak to them until the next session. However, if you take the initiative and check in with them, they feel valued and encouraged and you keep them accountable. I found this makes a massive difference.
When you’re coaching multiple people it becomes even more important to improve your efficiency. Group people with similar goals and realities together and do a group coaching session. Group calls save you time and they also improve accountability and motivation. Bonus!
Once you learn how to use the GROW model, your coaching sessions will no longer ramble on forever without any results. You will find that the reality will keep changing as they are growing and working towards their goals. Coaching sessions will not feel like Groundhog Day but become exciting as you can celebrate wins and set new goals, whether they are small and modest or big and hairy.