Posted by: Susan | February 2, 2010

Get the Most from Your Key People

If you’re like most managers or executives, you are dealing with having fewer people to do more of the work. Your people are smart and hard working  . . . but they need to increase their effectiveness to keep up with the growing workload and help you build a foundation for the future of the organization.  Yet they don’t have the time to go to lunch, let alone attend long training sessions.

Sound familiar?  Training may not be the answer.  Consider coaching.  Coaching is a technique used by leaders and managers who want to increase the productivity and success of their team in the most effective, time-efficient way possible.   Years of experience have taught us that when managers and leaders coach people around four core traits seen in all highly successful individuals, they succeed in any arena and at whatever they undertake.  

To get the most from your key people, use coaching as your strategy, and follow this process:

  1. Identify your high-potentials.  These are the people who have demonstrated an interest in seeing the organization succeed.  You know who they are.
  2. Invite these high-potentials to work with you in a coaching process over a specific period of time.
  3. Use a structured and disciplined system to conduct effective individual coaching sessions.
  4. Keep the sessions brief, specific, and concentrated around developing four key traits:  goal clarity, high achievement drive, strong emotional intelligence and excellent social skills.
  5. Properly prepare for each session using a pre-session planning sheet; debrief after each session using a post-session analysis tool.
  6. See more in your people than they see in themselves – the secret to building self-confidence and achieving more than they believe they are capable.

It’s important to remember that the four key traits (also known as success factors) can’t be intellectually learned, as in a classroom, but can only be experientially developed with quality coaching.  When you apply this process, it’s not uncommon to see 20% to 35% sales increases, employee retention challenges drop drastically, and organizational goals achieved that were previously viewed as unattainable.



  1. Excellent article – I especially like #6. Having seen many environments in both small and large businesses, I’ve found that 2 of the greatest tools a leader can use often go untouched: Recognition and Appreciation.

    If leaders follow your advice written here, their people will run through brick walls for them. Thanks for the great words!

    Play to Win,

    Coach Jig

  2. Very insiteful. Can you coach to the specific performance standards that your key support/clerical people should be striving for? Or do you need to uncover what motivates them to be at their A Game before you can affect their behavior?

    The most amazing thing to me is the importance of communication to keep people moving in the right and sometimes same direction.

    Great advice,

    • Great question Ellen. You can definitely coach to specific performance standards – the key is to start with goal clarity. First, ask some good questions of the support person. Example: “Mary, here is a staff performance standard for our company (state the standard); how do you see yourself contributing to helping us achieve that standard? What strengths do you bring to that standard? What areas of development do you think you need to address in order to better achieve that standard? And, what goal do you feel you need to set around that area of development? Note: The goal becomes a specific, measureable, achievable, realistic one with a time factor – that you then coach them to achieve.

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