Many organizations struggle to get things done. As Bill Gates said, "Vision is easy, execution is hard."
One way you can find this out for yourself as a coach is by doing the following exercise with an executive team:
Give each team member an index card. Ask them to write down all of the initiatives or goals in the organization that concern them, or that they worry won't get done — especially those for which others are accountable. Then collect the cards and read the answers to the group. This is a safe way for team members to express their concerns about trust within the group.
When I do this exercise in large and small organizations alike, usually a number of concerns get raised. The last time I did this, for an organization with about 5,000 employees, over a dozen crucial initiatives and performance metrics came up. This was a huge revelation for the CEO, who didn't realize that his team was so unwilling to speak out loud about their concerns, or that there were so many gaps in accountability among them.
For coaches, execution is one of those areas that we call "the mother of all coaching engagements." That's because executing effectively touches on so many areas. We provide a methodology to address execution, along with a number of related toolkits. When coaching individuals and teams on execution, you might need to explore any of the following issues:
– Individual orientations and skills with regards to any of these critical areas: time management, influencing others, communicating with others, building relationships, navigating politics, requesting resources, leading teams, and managing projects.
– The level of commitment and engagement among the team responsible for executing.
– The organization's culture, structure, and environment in relation to how hard or easy it is to get things done.
– The tone the leadership team sets, the performance they tolerate, and the behaviors and habits they model.
– The conversations the leaders and managers have to move things forward towards results (we teach a set of specific conversations that move initiatives forward from vision to results, and out of negativity when needed).
– The politics of a specific initiative in terms of number and power of supporters, antagonists, and people in "wait and see" mode.
An effective coach explores all of these issues with the client, and addresses those that need work while building on those that are strong.
Execution can be complex. For instance, in a healthcare organization, employees might be brilliant executing during an emergency situation, but not particularly effective trying to implement a longer-term organizational change initiative such as a process improvement. The coach can work with teams and individuals to address the specific situations and help move people forward.
At the Center for Executive Coaching, unlike other training programs, we equip you with the tools and processes you need to assist organizations and their leaders with this incredibly important issue.