Danielle came to our credit union over a year ago from an international coffee company which shall remain nameless, but is headquartered in Seattle, and rhymes with the word “Tarbucks”. During her tenure at her former company she was identified as a high performer and fast-tracked into management training. In fact, she was the only person in her region to go through an elite leadership program. In the eight years there, she learned in-depth management and coaching skills, worked on specialty group projects, and was mentored by key leaders.
Danielle has also participated in the pilot program I’ve been writing about. I asked her to describe the differences between the two programs. Overall, she commented,
I can honestly say that I have grown more in the past eight weeks participating in this pilot program than in any other program that I have had the privilege to be a part of.
So what’s the difference?
We started with a group class that delves into values, mission, vision, choice, and purpose. Skills like effective listening were learned as well. Danielle said she came away from the class with a passion for true self-development. She said, “I got really clear about how I wanted to show up as a leader. I wanted to understand how to manage each person on my team as an individual. I started having conversations I was afraid to have before.” When reflecting on how this was unique from other training programs, Danielle said, “Other programs were about memorizing. This was about learning.”
Part of the intent of this program was to form new “tribes” at our credit union. Fostering an environment where new teams can thrive. Following the first class this group had seven weeks of follow up assignments to stay connected.
A one-day regroup class was next. The purpose of this class was to dig deeper or personal commitments. Danielle said what she took from it was, “it’s OK to bring personal passion into the workplace. Other companies never let emotion in.” She discovered how to leverage her personal strengths to connect with others. To summarize, she said, “It kicked ___ for me, personally, because I started showing up at work more authentically.”
Several weeks of one-on-one hybrid coaching followed. I call it “hybrid” because it is not simply high-performance coaching and it is not solely life coaching. Danielle described it this way, “I was coached on my life as a whole. You can’t compartmentalize it; you have to look at the big picture.” Some of the topics she was coached on included health and wellness, tough conversations, and personal goals. Danielle said that this was different from other programs she’s been a part of, “It seems like all the other programs were about productivity. In this program, I have gotten to a better result by eliminating what’s holding me back in life.”
At the end of the first phase of this program, her entire team was assessed. Approximately 90% of her employees said they noticed a difference in Danielle. They described her as more confident, direct, present, and engaged. One employee noted, “I imagine the program has set a fire under her seat which is why within the last few months she has been so incredibly driven to make our department as successful as it can be.”
There are several paths to effectiveness. When personal passion is integrated into the conversations we have with employees, I think the results are better. Training programs can teach skills by way of values. By making it personal, the commitment can be stronger.
The hardest part of this competition for me has been describing what my project really is and why I think it is important. I hope Danielle’s story helps.
What do you think?