Sandbox Coaching for the Executive Suite
By Al McClain
We talk a lot in this space about running retail and CPG businesses. Much of the advice centers on paying proper attention to customers. Good utilization of technology can help but many just return to the basics – getting employees to do their best and work well as a team.
That’s true all up and down the organization, but what about top execs like CEOs and COOs? How do we get them to “play nicely in the sandbox together”?
It’s tempting to think that, given their salaries, top execs should just do their jobs well and that companies could spend time worrying about lower level employees instead. But, that might not be any more realistic than asking highly paid baseball players to hit 300, make fewer errors and get along well with their teammates. Fact is, just because they’re well compensated doesn’t mean they’ll do their job well. And, if those in the executive suite aren’t working well together, it could mean trouble for the company as a whole.
An article this week in the Wall Street Journal discusses the benefits of ‘marriage counseling’ for upper management. The idea is to meet regularly with executive coaches who help them talk through decisions and discuss their feelings about work issues. Interestingly, an executive coach interviewed for the article says that many top execs aren’t secure enough to submit to coaching. (And how do you pressure your boss into doing something he’s reluctant to do?)
Reasons that coaching can be needed include execs coming from different cultural and social backgrounds, difficulty sorting out respective roles, and frequent ‘stepping on each other’s toes.’
Joint coaching sessions are said to help execs develop better relationships, and learn to trust each other more. From there, the execs are said to make better business decisions.
Discussion Questions: Do you see executive coaching (especially joint/group coaching) as valuable for the retail
industry or as just another consulting opportunity? If execs are having issues, how does one convince them to accept coaching?
My first reaction is that execs should just do what they are supposed to do, and do it well. But, I’m not entirely sure that’s rational. In an ideal business
world, we wouldn’t need executive coaching, but the business world is often anything but ideal and counseling those in the upper echelon of management could bring a lot of tangible
benefits to companies.
- CEO and COO Try ‘Marriage Counseling’ – The Wall
Street Journal (subscription required)
- Riding Shotgun –
the Role of the COO – Nathan Bennett – Amazon.com