February 1997 Issue


Chairman's Message

Is There Enough Customer in your Marketing by Michael Lane

Money Sense by Hal Minot

The Blanchard Management Report by Dr. Ken Blanchard

Rewarding Employees by Bob Nelson

Seven Tips for Managing Older Employees by Personnel Decisions, Inc.

Book Review: Hope is not a Method . . . by Norman R. Augustine

Coaching to Win at Work by Clinton O. Longenecker and Gary Pinkel

1997 NMA Directory

1997 Board of Directors

NMA Councils

NMA Staff--Headquarters/Field Operations


Chairman's Message

(back to Contents)

Competing for the Future

Gary Hammel and C. K. Prahalad, recently published a book Competing for the Future. As your association addresses 1997, the title of this book is most appropriate. NMA IS Competing for the Future. You and I join the whole family of NMA members in meeting that competition.

"Competition from what?", you may ask! Competition from the impact of corporate restructuring from the results of mergers and consolidations; for valuable resources, both financial and people; from changing views of what management and leadership are; Competition to the very paradigm of the NMA and how the association deals with needed change while still retaining the values, principles, and quality that have marked the present and the past. Competition for the future--what a challenge!

NMA is on the move with a commitment to Excellence! It is committed to win the Competition for the Future, not just 21 to 20 but 100 to 0. Membership numbers are important, because it is through a strong and growing membership that value-added services are provided.

What value-added services?

Recently, the Executive Advisory Committee of the NMA gave answers such as these to that question.

  • Promote teamwork
  • Provide training in areas that your organization does not or can not.
  • Emphasize the professional development aspects of NMA.
  • Provide a forum for communications and networking.
  • Showcase the accomplishments of the chapter and its members.

Each chapter and, yes, each member of the NMA family should ask, "How can I help my chapter provide these values and more?" The answer to that question is important.

Your NMA leaders are working to move the association towards the 21st century. "How?", you ask. Through a well structured marketing plan, through such provided services as the NMA Learning Resource Center, through identified growth and value-oriented initiatives for 1997, through aggressive long-range planning and through a deliberate focus on being an ever-growing direct provider of member services and benefits. Those customers are you, the chapter that you belong to, and the sponsoring organization.

How can you help?

  • Seek out every opportunity to involve yourself in the professional development activities of your chapter.
  • Encourage your peers to join your chapter.
  • Showcase your skills by participating in or leading chapter activities.
  • Be a positive influence in your workplace.
  • Seek out your chapter leaders and National directors and share your ideas, concerns and suggestions with them.
  • Use the NMA chapter to prepare yourself for change.

To be the "Best in Class," and the "Supplier of Choice" is the way that your association will Compete for the Future.

Success in that competition is good for the organization that sponsors your chapter, for you, and for the NMA.

So what is my part in this competition for the future? I made a commitment to achieve a sense of excellence during my term as Chairman of the Board. In achieving that sense, I am reminded of something that I read once. It goes like this, "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence." I intend to make my signature bold and easy to read.

Is There Enough Customer in your Marketing
by Michael Lane

(back to contents)

Peter Drucker wrote 40 years ago that "a business is not determined by the producer, but by the customer." This is especially true in today's hyper-competitive marketplace where--unless the supplier stays up-to-date about the customer's thinking--changing needs or new technology can obsolete the supplier's product or service overnight.

Today's successful industrial companies competing on an international basis, have one common trait; a strong emphasis on Organizational Marketing. Organizational Marketing is the attitude that every area of a company must place the highest importance on responding to the customer's needs and perceptions. Defining customer needs and perceptions is the responsibility of everyone in the organization who has contact with the customer.

This customer focus is especially difficult for those organizations in transition from traditional government or aerospace market environments. These companies face the formidable task of changing an organizational culture heavily dominated by the technical or manufacturing disciplines. Unlike the government market that rewards adherence to strict specifications supported by elaborate documentation trails, the commercial/industrial marketplace rewards companies that deliver maximum value/performance and consistently respond to changing customer needs. This requires a different emphasis within the organization.

Moving into the commercial marketplace requires the supplier to completely understand the customer environment, including how the business is run, critical operational processes, and how the customer generates profits, so that the supplier can consistently deliver higher value and better solutions to improve the customer's performance and profits. Each individual and manager must play a role in this understanding by providing critical information to complete the "customer picture." For the first time, individual performance in these companies will also be measured based on customer satisfaction and responsiveness to customer needs.

Transitional companies must adjust to the reality of a market where customers are free to withhold new orders or move business to a competitor. These decisions can be based on many factors, because customers are seldom committed to the supplier for long-term contracts. Since customers act on perceptions of the company and its products/services, everyone who comes in contact with the customer can affect the business relationship.

Because many individuals outside of the traditional sales and marketing functions can affect customer perceptions, managers have a responsibility to instill a "sales" or customer attitude in their employees. Fundamental to this process is the manager's consistent demonstration of sales sensitivity to customer's needs. Some companies take the process further by providing basic sales/service training for non-sales employees. Everyone must remember that one person's indifferent or unresponsive contact can seriously damage months of relationship building.

Another key difference for transitional companies is that, in the commercial/industrial market, a long-term relationship must be built after the sale is made. Unlike government markets, where requirements are explicit, successful commercial/industrial suppliers must be skilled at recognizing the implicit follow-up and service requirements for each customer. Every person who comes in contact with the customer can contribute to the overall picture of the customer's "after-the-sale" service needs and can affect the relationship building process.

To illustrate the importance of understanding the customer's environment, a leading supplier of deposit bags for the banking industry failed to recognize the advantages of a new disposable, plastic deposit bag introduced by a new competitor. The new product had significant cost and operational advantages for the bank end-user. This manufacturer's inability to understand the new product's benefits for their customers caused the company to lose over half of its market in a few short years. Instead of using their commanding market position to control the new technology, they attempted to prevent its penetration into the market; as a result, several new competitors quickly became the dominant suppliers.

Company personnel who came into contact with banking customers failed to "listen" to the real customer needs.

Because Organizational Marketing requires the entire company to focus on the customer's real needs, it is essential that not only sales and marketing personnel, but also top management, have face-to-face contact with customers on a regular basis. Executives of the most successful commercial/industrial companies spend considerable amounts of time in the marketplace with customers to increase their understanding of the customer's/business. This insight, added to the collective intelligence from the rest of the organization, can create a complete understanding of the customer's environment. Everyone must think in terms of the value they are delivering to the customer's operation, with a clear understanding of competitive functional substitutes.

Successful Organizational Marketing also requires a commitment to be responsive to the market. In order for a company to respond successfully to market needs, the marketing planning process must be fully integrated into the operational and strategic planning. In fact, market considerations must lead the company in developing plan requirements, in order to guide decisions on company direction, asset allocation, and investment.

Many of today's popular programs, such as TQM and ISO 9000, are simply a response to customer and market needs for improvements in quality, and compatibility with international standards. The company's commitment to respond to the market includes dealing with deficiencies in products, service pricing and costs. Deficiencies are anything that the customer perceives to be negative. Management must be unemotional and pragmatic in evaluating these deficiencies.

For example, a medium sized flexible packaging manufacturer had always viewed itself as having the highest product quality in the industry, and believed that its service was competitive in the market. When sales failed to track the market, a closer examination revealed that from the customer's perspective, there were alternative suppliers with competitive quality and service. Over time, this company had failed to continue improving its products and service, which allowed the competition to close the gap that had once separated them.

The reality of the commercial industrial and business-to-business marketplace is that business customers buy only to satisfy and economic requirement or to improve economic performance. The Organizational Marketing objective is to interpret the customer's needs through a complete understanding of the customer's business. This organizational commitment will show a supplier how to serve the customer better than the competition, while improving the supplier's own corporate performance.

Money Sense

(back to Contents)

Managing Your Credit Can Build Net Worth

by Hal Minot

Too often, when people talk about living comfortably and enjoying financial security, they think that building assets--what you own--is the only way to increase wealth. Few realize that effectively managing liabilities--what you owe--is a powerful way to build net worth.

When you add up the costs of your financial goals--whether buying a home or vacation property, sending your children to good colleges, enjoying a comfortable retirement or leaving an inheritance to your heirs--saving enough can seem challenging. Integrating smart credit strategies into your financial plan can help you reduce expenses, lower taxes, maximize asset growth and take advantage of new financial opportunities.

Let's take a look at some of the liability management strategies for home financing, personal credit, and investment financing that can help you meet your financial needs over your lifetime.

Home Financing

Mortgages usually represent your single largest financial commitment. To select the right mortgage, you need to consider your risk tolerance, return on investment, length of time you plan to be in your home and your current and future cash-flow situation. Here are some of the best options to consider. Mortgages with 100 percent financing can benefit you if you think the earning potential of your assets will exceed the cost of financing a down payment.

Assets normally required for a down payment can remain invested, and you can also maximize your mortgage interest deductibility.

Mortgages with interest-only payments help you increase your cash flow by lowering your monthly costs. Making interest-only payments allows you to maximize your tax deductibility and apply your savings to other investments or repay costly consumer credit.

If you plan to be in your home for a short period, a mortgage that offers an initial fixed-interest rate based on the amount of time you are in your home can help you lower your interest expense and monthly payments, when compared to traditional fixed-rate mortgages. If you expect to be in your home for 10 years or more and can pay extra points up front, you may even be able to lower the mortgage interest rate and save thousands of dollars in expense.

Refinancing a high-rate mortgage can also bring significant savings. The monthly payment on a 30-year, fully amortizing $100,000 mortgage with a fixed rate of 10 percent is $877.57. If the mortgage is refinanced at 7.5 percent, the monthly payment drops to $699.21 a savings of $178.36 a month and $2,140.32 a year.

Personal Credit

Personal credit often comes in the form of unsecured personal bank loans and credit cards with annual percentage rages of 18 percent or more. These rates are high because there is no collateral to secure the credit. If you use the equity in your home or your eligible securities to secure credit, you can usually cut your credit costs by 50 percent or more.

A home equity line of credit, which may be used for multiple purposes such as financing college or home renovations, can be your most advantageous source of credit. Establishing a home equity line of credit not only can reduce the cost of your credit, it can provide potentially tax-deductible interest.

When you establish a home equity line of credit, you are borrowing against a home's value. You can usually borrow up to 80 percent of its value at a rate that is only one or two points above the prime rate. The interest expense on a home equity line of credit may be tax deductible on loans up to $100,000.

By consolidating large outstanding debts at a lower rate, you can free up your cash for other needs or pay off the outstanding balance sooner. What's more, with a line of credit you access only the funds you need, so you pay only for the credit you need.

Investment Financing

Just as asset-based financing is often the best way to meet credit needs, liability-based investing can be an attractive way to meet portfolio objectives. The prudent use of margin borrowing can help you meet the goals of your overall financial plan.

With interest rates generally much lower than those of personal loans, margin borrowing is often the least expensive source of credit available. By borrowing against your eligible securities, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, instead of selling them to raise cash, you may be able to maintain your long-term portfolio objectives while still meeting your short-term cash-flow needs.

You may also be able to maximize tax deductibility of interest by purchasing securities with proceeds from a margin loan. The interest expense incurred on margin debt for the purchase of taxable securities is deductible to the extent of your net investment income, which includes interest, dividends, and net capital gains from the sale of investments.

Most margin loans have no preset repayment schedule or prepayment penalties, and margin balances can be reduced as new funds are received. While margin borrowing offers numerous benefits, check with your financial consultant to determine whether margin borrowing is appropriate for your financial situation.

Put Strategies to Use

By considering a wide range of liability management resources and strategies, you can reduce the cost of your credit, both before and after taxes. Talk with your financial consultant about how you can manage your assets and your liabilities together to build your net worth.

Hal Minot is Group Manager, Marketing and Business Development, for Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation.

The Blanchard Management Report
by Dr. Ken Blanchard

(back to contents)

In our book, Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute, John Carlos, Alan Randolph and I contend that the first secret to empowering people is to share information with everyone. Without information, people cannot act. With information, people cannot help but act.

Once you have begun to make your people your business partners by sharing information with them, the second key to empowering people is to create autonomy through boundaries. One of the problems in the past with empowerment is that the assumption was that empowered people could do anything they wanted. They were in charge. That assumption just does not make sense. A river without banks is just a large puddle. What permits a river to flow is its banks. In empowering people, the banks are boundary areas or guidelines within which people can operate. Top management takes a lead in providing these boundary areas. They include the following:

Everyone needs to know what business you are in.

What are the beliefs that drive your behavior?

What are the big picture bottom line goals that should focus everyones behavior?

What are people being asked to do and contribute?

Whats in it for people if they perform well?

How will people know what good behavior looks like?

Boundaries could also include policies and procedures. As I learned from coaching great, Don Shula, when we wrote Everyones a Coach, you need to have a plan and then expect the unexpected and be ready to change that plan if necessary. In football, audibles are when the quarterback or defensive captain changes the plan on a given play when they realize that it wont work. Shula emphasized. though, that effectiveness at calling audibles begins with a plan.

This concept was verified by two of our top consultants when they had a chance to observe the training of Seeing Eye dogs. They found that two kinds of dogs were thrown out of the program. The first kind was obvious--these were dogs who were completely disobedient. They wouldn't do anything their master asked of them. The other kind of dogs dismissed were ones that were completely obedient dogs. These were dogs that would do whatever their master wanted.

The dogs that worked best were dogs that would do whatever their master wanted unless it didn't make sense. For example, standing at a corner, the dog's master says, "Forward." The dog looks and sees a car coming at sixty-five miles an hour. He thinks, "This is a real bummer" as he leads his master out into the middle of the road. Instead, a dog that is allowed to think can make a choice that best fits the given circumstances. Can you imagine letting dogs think?

We know that many organizations dont let their people think. How many times have you been in a situation where a front line employee says, "I'm sorry. It's our policy" when the policy makes no sense? For example, one time when I was checking into a top hotel, I was put on the special executive level. When I went to check in, the woman in attendance told me they had no rooms available until after 2:00 p.m. I said, "That's O.K. with me. Would you store my bags?"

She said, "Fine" and asked me what else she could do for me.

I said, "I need to cash a traveler's check."

"I can't do that," she said. "I don't know what your room number is yet."

"Why do you need my room number?" I asked.

"I have to put it on the back of every traveler's check."

"That's a good policy," I said, "but you have my bags. It doesn't make sense in this case."

Her responses included, "It's our policy, I just work here, I don't make the rules," etc. Can you imagine a Seeing Eye dog under those restrictions. They would be dead at the first busy street.

Empowerment begins with boundaries. There is nothing wrong with policies or procedures or any other guidelines. Empowered employees welcome them, but recognize they can use their brains and call audibles when they don't make sense. Empowering people without giving them any boundaries will lead to disaster and failure.

Copyright 1996 by Blanchard Management Report, Blanchard Training and Development, Inc.,

Attn.: Bob Nelson, Publisher, 125 State Place, Escondido, CA 92029. Past articles, reprints, special topic requests, interviews and annual subscriptions are available.

Phone: 800-728-6000, x5201

Fax: 619-743-5030

Rewarding Employees--How to Keep Incentives from Becoming Entitlements
by Bob Nelson

(back to contents)

Many managers are hesitant to use incentives in the workplace because of a fear of what it may lead to in the way of increased expectations on the part of employees. The logic goes: "If I give them something extra for doing what I expect them to do, I will have to keep giving them more and more in the future to simply maintain what they are doing now." Such managers are afraid that the use of incentives in general--money or otherwise--is basically a slippery slope that once begun, can never be contained.

This line of reasoning is unfortunate in that such managers are abandoning one of the most powerful forms of human motivation that is known. They will never experience the benefits that result in increased morale and productivity, and return to the bottom line from a well-run incentive program. It is similar to a person who refuses to drive a car because the brakes might fail or because they read that a significant number of people are killed each year while driving their vehicles.

The fact of the matter is, with certain cautions, it can be relatively easy to obtain highly desirable results from the workplace while at the same time minimizing the risks to the organization. Following are a few guidelines Ive found that can help to keep your incentives in check.

Link incentives to performance.
This makes incentives less likely to come across as largesse that is equally distributed to all members of the company whether individuals performed or not and more closely ties incentives to the success of the organization. Recognizing such things as birthdays, anniversaries, attendance, years of service or passing out turkeys at Christmas are all examples of programs that are rewarding presence rather than performance. Yet these are some of the most common incentive programs that exist in this country. It is much more beneficial to get employees focusing on behavior and results that can make a difference in the competitive advantage of the organization--or directly lead to increased revenue. Doing so will help break down the notion of the organization as a paternal caretaker of employees. Rather, employees need to be recognized for the contribution they have made--and earned--for the organization.

Use variety in your choice of incentives.
Not only will having different incentives keep them fresh, but individual incentives will be less likely to become entitlements. For example, if each quarter the company made its revenue goals a half-day off awarded to all employees, by the second or third time employees will come to expect this incentive as an ongoing benefit for no other reason than it has been done repeatedly. If, on the other hand, the first quarter you gave all employees a half-day off, the second quarter you did nothing and the third quarter you held an ice cream party, the variety not only adds fun to the workplace, it minimizes the expectations that can arise from the repeated use of the same incentive. The same logic holds true for incentive programs. Change them when they start to become stale or lose their effectiveness.

Emphasize non-monetary incentives.
Studies have shown that you can obtain a greater increase in productivity through the use of non-monetary recognition items (merchandise, plaques, life style items, etc.) on a dollar-per-dollar basis than by using only cash to increase productivity. Or, at the very least, combine non-cash with cash awards. In a recent study of manufacturing team motivators, more than half of manufacturers say cash works best when combined with non-cash incentives such as recognition programs, training and development, promotions, and changes to work content. Many other studies have shown that employees find the most meaningful incentives to be things that have no cost at all, starting with a personal thanks from ones manager for doing a good job.

Raise the level of awareness and skill on the part of your managers to make a more frequent use of such no-cost, low-cost incentives within their work groups and within individual jobs. Autonomy, flexibility, visibility, involvement in decision making, interesting job assignments and extensive information/communication can all be used with great success to help obtain extraordinary performance from ordinary people.

Bob Nelson is vice president of Blanchard Training and Development, Inc., in San Diego, CA (800-728-6000) and author of the best-selling book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing) now in its 13th printing.

Seven Tips for Managing People Older Than You
by Personnel Decisions, Inc.

(back to contents)

Today's management ranks are full of fresh young faces. Its no longer expected that those with the most years of experience will drive American business. Factors such as leadership ability and potential, as well as versatility of experience and training, now get people the top spots.

But life is not all wine, roses and fancy sports cars for young managers, according to David Peterson, vice president and director of Coaching Services for Personnel Decisions, Inc. Being young poses many challenges, he says. For example, many young managers find it personally difficult to manage people older than they are--particularly those who are their parent's age. Following are recommendations from Peterson that will help turn this challenge into an opportunity for greater professional success.

Know with whom you're dealing.
Remember, these people may not have grown up watching The Brady Bunch or Scooby Doo, says Peterson. Take time to get to know your older workers and the "world" from which they came. Go to lunch. Talk about family and personal and professional values and goals. It will help you develop more effective, meaningful management techniques.

Consider older workers your secret weapon.
Most companies are working in team environments. Lucky you. Research shows that the most successful, productive teams include people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Older workers clearly will be assets, if you truly respect their input and ideas.

Complement, not compete.
You will be most successful with older workers if you recognize that each of you has something unique to contribute. Life experience, of course, is one area in which you'll always lag behind older workers. Talk about these differences. Then develop a plan or method for bringing together the best that each of you has to offer.

Stay in touch.
Continue to build and strengthen your relationship with older workers during face-to-face meetings, check-in phone calls or e-mail notes. "Our work has shown that most older workers at some point begin worrying about job security," Peterson says. "Managers need to know about and handle these types of concerns before they affect the employees job performance."

Focus on your accountability.
Your goal, and your duty, is to contribute to the company's success. Becoming intimidated by older workers could affect your performance and jeopardize your job and career.

Become a mentor.
Remember, you are the manager because you had something special that the older workers didn't have. Make it your goal to share your talents. Help your older workers to develop additional skills and increase their level of responsibility.

Build mutual respect.
"You won't get what you don't give," says Peterson. Give older workers--and all workers for that matter--plenty of your time and attention. They'll reward you with respect and commitment.

Personnel Decisions, Inc.
2000 Plaza VII Tower
45 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402-1608
Phone: 612/339-0927

Book Review: Hope is not a Method . . .

"A Clear and Compelling Plan of Action That Can Be Readily Applied by Any Organization"

by Norman R. Augustine

Gordon R. Sullivan and Michael V. Harper. Times Business, a division of Random House, 294 pages; appendices; notes; references; index; $25

(back to contents)

With books and articles on management, leadership and business strategy flowing from the pens of recognized or self-professed experts almost as fast as the U.S. Army overran Iraq, students of such subjects might be inclined to shrug off a volume on the Army's recent transformation.

As the authors themselves ask, "What do two soldiers have to say to America's leaders?"

In fact, in Hope Is Not a Method, retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan and former CSA Staff Group Director Michael V. Harper share a great deal of insight, experience and practical advice with all leaders of today and tomorrow. Weaving facts and historical vignettes among their "10 rules for guiding change"--each illustrated with examples drawn from the authors' combined 62 years of military experience--Gen. Sullivan and Col. Harper have written a book that is engaging, informative and even entertaining (drawing on our own observation that effective leaders must have a sense of humor).

Skeptics who recoil at the notion of applying military experience to civilian enterprise miss the mark and must first disengage three myths: that getting results in the military is as easy as giving orders; that the military need not compete in the way businesses must to win and retain customers; and that the military is exempt from the bottom-line pressures of the private sector. Having served some 10 years in the Pentagon, I can offer assurance that the management challenges encountered by those who lead the Army are at least as difficult and complex as those faced by any corporate executive--and have far greater consequences.

The authors point out that leaders, whether in the war room or the board room, must give the right orders and fully involve teams of people to achieve desired results. The Army also must compete--against other armies, terrorists and paramilitary groups--with stakes that far surpass those of any traditional bottom line. And, with total U.S. defense spending slashed by more than 35 percent in constant dollars over the last decade, the Army has been compelled to pursue the same sort of cost-cutting and productivity improvement initiatives that have swept industry. Unlike most corporations, however, the Army remains accountable to a "board of directors" with 535 members (of Congress) and a "chairman" who also happens to be the Commander in Chief.

With misconceptions and the all-too-customary emphasis on dissimilarities set aside, one begins to appreciate the many parallels between the U.S. Army and its counterparts in corporate America. If the Army were a private enterprise, it would have more than 1.4 million employees, annual revenues of $63 billion, branch offices in more than 100 countries, strategic alliances with virtually every major nation in the world, and rank as the ninth-largest U.S. corporation on the Fortune 500 list.

Like virtually every U.S. business, the Army has been confronted with the often harsh realities of a new world order--in its case, precipitated directly by the Cold War's end. For the Army, this meant eliminating more than 600,000 positions, adjusting to intensified competition for available funds in the face of sharply reduced budgets and adapting to new missions--all without sacrificing its readiness to fight.

That the Army not only adapted to this radical change but also emerged as a leaner organization tailored to today's demands is a tribute to its leaders, including Gen. Sullivan, and to its uniformed and civilian personnel. The opportunity to learn firsthand the lessons of how this was accomplished is perhaps the most compelling reason to read Hope Is Not a Method.

Central to the Army's successful evolution, the authors relate, was the early recognition that change was more than an external environmental force--the stuff of newspaper headlines chronicling geopolitical developments--to which the organization had to respond. By embracing change as a process, focused through the lens of a finely articulated sense of purpose, the Army was able to fundamentally transform the manner in which it prepares for and engages in increasingly diverse missions worldwide.

While many in the Army looked to their leaders for a sense of certainty about the future, particularly in the wake of communism's collapse, Gen. Sullivan points out that such expectations are unrealistic. He adds, "What a leader can--and must--do is create a vision, a context within which an organization can act to create its future."

After developing a value-based vision for the future by drawing on the collective wisdom of the Army's top talent, leaders crafted a strategy to set its transformation in motion. The process of change began at the top, but deliberately involved everyone in the organization through techniques such as leveraging information technology to inform and empower--from stock clerks in logistics centers to soldiers on the battlefield. As one example of how this new approach translated into mission success, the authors cite the decision to equip mortar crews with state-of-the-art targeting and positioning technology, a move that reduced from eight minutes to three the time required to observe, engage and destroy a target. This is a remarkable "cycle time" improvement many business leaders will envy.

The example also illustrates one of the book's fundamental premises: that simply improving on existing processes is insufficient to achieve radical transformation. New ways of conducting business must be found, with ideas percolating across all levels of the organization. As the authors point out, "Doing the same thing you have always done--no matter how much you improve it--will get you only what you had before."

Equally important to the Army's success were fundamentals such as open communication, realistic training, experience-based learning, empowering, and cultivating future leaders capable of thinking strategically and inspiring others to embrace the Army's future vision. While such techniques have on occasion been applied elsewhere and have been discussed in various books (though seldom as clearly), what makes the Army's story so compelling is the ultimate simplicity with which the transformation process was conceived and executed.

No organization places a greater premium on leadership than the U.S. military. While Hope Is Not a Method documents a remarkably successful application of the principles of leadership, vision and organizational transformation outside the standard business context, the authors draw such clear parallels between business and the military that their work is of great value to the leaders of virtually any enterprise.

I have always believed that business, sports and the military have much in common, with the lessons from each adaptable to other situations. In Hope Is Not a Method, the authors provide a clear and compelling plan of action that can be readily applied by any organization in these times of Darwinian change.

NORMAN R. AUGUSTINE is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corp. He served as assistant director of defense research and engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1965-1970, as assistant secretary of the Army for research and development in 1973 and 1974, and as under secretary of the Army from 1975-1977.

"From Army Magazine, December 1996. Copyright 1966 by the Association of the U.S. Army and reproduced by permission."

Coaching to Win at Work

by Clinton O. Longenecker and Gary Pinkel

(back to Contents)

"My boss is always talking about how we must become more competitive and that we've got to be a team but I sure wish he'd act more like a winning coach."

An employee's lament

America is a country that is driven and even obsessed with the concept of competition and the importance of winning. This is true in both the world of sports and business. In the sporting world winning records and championships fill stadiums and coffers and elevate sports personalities to celebrity status. In the business world market share, profits, new product innovation, earnings per share and brand recognition determine the winners and losers in an enterprise system that tends to be very unforgiving of those who are less than competitive. The similarities between sport and business are numerous but no where is this more true than in the leadership role of the coach/manager. Winning teams in both arenas do not just happen. They are developed and nurtured by effective leaders who must perform their roles with conviction, vision, passion, energy and skill. Without effective leadership, both athletic and business efforts are destined to frustration, mediocrity and failure.

There is a current trend in the workplace encouraging supervisors and managers to become proactive coaches. In a recent book by Don Shula and Ken Blanchard Everyone's a Coach the authors contend that every person in a leadership position is indeed a coach with the capacity to help others achieve goals (win) or to cause others to struggle in their endeavors and fail (loss). The problem lies in the fact that all too frequently managers do not think of themselves as being in the role of a coach in the modern workplace. Organizations are frequently telling managers and supervisors that they must be "a coach to their people." Yet, organizations provide surprising little support in redefining roles, training and coaching for the very people (managers and supervisors) they need to function effectively as coaches. A manager's role as coach requires a very specific focus and set of behaviors to be effectively enacted. A coach is a leader who focuses his/her energy on helping others improve their performance and achieve goals. So the real question becomes what do effective coaches do to help their players succeed?

Some people believe that being an effective coach is simply the ability to motivate people (e.g. give good pep talks, challenge and inspire others). Yet, motivating people is only part of the key role of a coach. The modern day coach in both sports and business must also create a "performance system" that enables people to perform effectively. Since performance is always a function of motivation X ability X support, all three components must operate in concert if people are going to achieve higher levels of performance in any area of their lives, and especially at work.

To illustrate the point, look at each of these three performance scenarios. Take a motivated accountant and place them in a situation where they do not have the right set of skills for the job or the support they need to get the job done. The outcome is frustration and failure. Put a talented, properly equipped salesperson in a job without creating a climate to motivate them to achieve and performance will suffer. Ask a motivated and talented engineer to do a job without proper support and resources and their performance is typically less desired. By definition it is the coachs job to help people succeed and improve their performance. That is their focus. If a manager really wants to enhance the performance of his or her people they must take a systematic, process oriented approach. Specifically, it is the coachs job to ensure that all three of these critical performance factors are addressed on an ongoing basis to help people at work.

What Real Coaches Do
In our opening quote an employee of a large manufacturing organization made a very telling comment which could be summarized by stating if you want us to become more effective (a winner) please help us get there (coach). We have developed a list of specific issues that address the degree to which a manager is effectively coaching their people in the three critical performance areas: Motivation, Ability and Support. Based on our coaching experience, organization research and personal practice, we can safely say that these factors have been found to be critical coaching behaviors in helping others achieve higher levels of performance across both the sporting and business worlds. Review each of these factors and evaluate yourself as to the degree to which your management style addresses these critical performance factors on an ongoing basis with each of your employees.

Cultivating Motivation
A real coach must be an effective motivator of people. That is to say, he/she must help create a desire in each of their people to achieve high levels of performance. Each of the questions below addresses a key motivational coaching issue that effective leaders continually monitor and address.

  • Focus--Do your people have a clear and unambiguous description of what their job entails?
  • Vision--Do your people have specific goals they are pursuing that have been jointly established?
  • Feedback--Do you provide your people with ongoing feedback on how to improve their performance?
  • Outcomes--Do you create linkages between desired results and actual outcomes for performance in terms of rewards and corrective actions?
  • Reflect--Do you celebrate success and encourage people to learn from their mistakes and failure?

Without motivation, performance improvement is difficult at best. If a manager does not address each of these issues an employee/player's motivation will not be as high as might otherwise be the case. A coach cannot really force people to be motivated but rather can only create an environment that encourages people to want to perform. It is not surprising that every manager wants their people to be motivated. What is surprising is how little attention some managers give to the five practices identified above.

Enhancing Ability
A real coach continually develops the ability level of their personnel to ensure that their people have the skills, training and intelligence to perform their jobs effectively. A coach must continually take active steps to enhance the abilities of their team. Key coaching issues in the ability arena include:

  • Resources--Do we have the patience and discipline to recruit and select talented people?
  • Information--Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your people?
  • Barriers--Do you effectively orient people to your team/department to speed up the learning process?
  • Authority--Do you make sure people are properly trained to perform their current duties?
  • Teamwork--Do you have a development plan for each of your people to enhance future performance?

As the complexity of the modern workplace increases, the ability of an organizations workforce is the key to long-term organizational success. Individual managers need to set aside time to focus their energies on enhancing the ability and talents of their people. Without effective coaching in this arena a managers workforce cannot achieve its full potential. You cannot have a great team without a strong and talented group of players.

Providing Support
A real coach provides the ongoing support that his/her people need to get their work done and experience a sense of achievement/accomplishment. Providing support takes on many forms but the underlying issue is that a manager is creating a workplace where people can get things done with a minimum of hassles and frustrations. Key support coaching issues include:

  • Acquire--Do my people have the resources they need to get the job done?
  • Know--Do people have the information they need to perform their jobs effectively?
  • Orient--What organizational performance barriers must be removed that prevent my people from getting better results?
  • Train--Do my people have the authority/sanction they need to get the job done?
  • Develop--Do my people work together effectively as a team?

The answers to these questions will be a strong indicator as to the degree to which a manager is effectively managing the context in which people work and perform their duties. Without support and teamwork, workplace frustration and a nagging sense of defeat are inevitable. These key managerial practices are all issues that help equip people to go into the workplace and compete. And while we would not send a football player onto the field without set plays, a basketball player onto the court without shoes or a baseball player to bat without a bat, we frequently send employees into the workplace without properly preparing them for the contest. It is a sad fact of organizational life the plans, projects, programs, policies, and procedures frequently take precedence over people. Yet, real productivity gains and winning most often come from people who are motivated, talented and properly supported by a coach who cares. Think about this as you address each of these fifteen questions and ask yourself this question: "Since I am a coach, what kind of team do I really have and what is my record?"

Two final caveats must be stated that are particularly important to a manager's effectiveness as a coach. A real coach demonstrates a personal level of caring for his or her players. People care how much you care before they care how much you know which is the key to earning peoples respect. Real coaches are desirous of seeing other people succeed and they do whatever they can to help people realize their potential and feel like winners. This characteristic is difficult to fake and requires a strong belief in helping others be their best (which is a quality lacking in far too many coaches). Finally, the factor that allows coaches to profoundly influence others is trust and credibility. If you are going to ask something of your people you must be willing to lead by example. If you are going to talk the talk you'd better be willing to walk the walk. If not, a coach will quickly lose their ability to have a positive influence on others. So if you are ready to take your coaching skills to a new level look at the key motivation, ability and support factors that cause performance to improve and look for ways to help your people win at work.

Clinton O. Longenecker, Ph.D. is the Stranahan Professor of Management at the University of Toledo. He has written extensively on management and human resource issues and is an active organizational consultant and management educator.

Gary R. Pinkel is the Head Football Coach at the University of Toledo and has over 20 years of coaching experience. His teams have compiled the best winning percentages in UT football history and were ranked 24th in the nation in 1995 when he was selected Ohio Collegiate Coach of the Year after an 11-0-1 season. He is an active motivational speaker and advisor to business managers.

Last updated on July 5, 1997 by Sue Kappeler, CM.