Tag Archives: coaching

So Proud of Our Customer!

This is a great case study explaining how MS India is using the Cultural detective to build intercultural competence in engineers supporting enterprise customers. Melanie and I had the honor in participating in the first CD certification in Bangalore many years ago and are proud to be associated with CD ever since. CD has now become the foundation for all of C2C’s intercultural training program and intercultural coaching assignments. Thank you Dianne and well done Heather!

Cultural Detective Blog

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_DMicrosoft India has been a Cultural Detective customer for six years, and both Heather Robinson and I are so very proud of the abilities their staff members have developed to in turn coach and develop their support engineers’ customer service skills. The entire project has been amazing—truly a privilege to be a part of it! I’d like to take this opportunity to share a bit of their “Cultural Effective” story with you.

Microsoft uses Cultural Detective to coach their large enterprise customer support representatives. In the first six months using the tool, they told us they attributed a 30% increase in customer satisfaction to Cultural Detective! Now, five years later, they know Cultural Detective inside and out, and use the CD Method when interacting with both international and domestic customers.

In March of this year Heather again traveled to Bangalore to work with the trainers, to help improve their abilities to coach using Cultural…

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Leadership Development: The Rise Of The Leadership Incubators

Most organizations have accepted that when it comes to developing a leadership pipeline conventional classroom trainings might not be enough. As a result, they are now looking at creating leadership incubators to impart the required leadership and management skills to their HiPos and to help them assess their ability in applying learning and leading others. Leadership incubators, also popularly known as greenhouse programs, are based on action learning. They are organized with the idea of identifying HiPos, training them for future leadership roles, assessing the time frame in which different HiPos will be ready to take leadership responsibilities.

Different organizations have different ways of conducting these programs but there are some commonalities: Incubators are usually conducted over a few months and are a structured mix of learning modules, on-the-job coaching and action learning through group working on real life business problem statements. Usually,these modules are prepared in respect with the 70-20-10 guideline.

Incubators are designed on the basis of a company’s requirements. For example, a Fortune 100 IT company identifies project management, creative problem solving, decision-making and effective communication as critical behaviors for their future technical leads. The incubator starts off with a kick-off program led by senior technical leaders to set the context for participants. Different activities are designed to understand the expectations of all 160 participants in the incubator and integrate these into the design of the intervention.

Participants are then divided in eight batches, with each batch divided in four Action Learning Groups (ALGs). Each ALG is assigned a real life problem statement to work on during the incubator. Based on inputs from the business, HR and the participants, three learning modules are designed. Each batch goes through these modules with a month between each learning event. After four months, ALGs pitch their solutions to their senior technical leaders.

The objective of the final pitch is to assess the participant’s ability to apply essentials of project management, creative problem solving and decision-making and their ability to “sell” their solutions to others. The company then decides whether the solutions presented are implementable or not.

The advantage for organizations is clear: The selections to these programs help them identify highest potential candidates in their organization, get senior leaders to act as mentors to these high-potentials and get a clear idea about where the leadership strength of the organization lies and who is ready to take on leadership responsibility. Another not-so-direct benefit is getting cross-functional group of managers to work towards different business problems and providing solutions to them.

I believe that the introduction of action learning is probably the most important change to have happened in the leadership development training space in the last few years.

One important trend that is being seen in this regard is that some organizations are engaging their senior leaders to impart these trainings. In such cases, service providers design the learning content and process for them and engage senior leaders in the role of coach or mentors. Many organizations have also started investing in training senior management in coaching skills so that they can effectively support participants of leadership incubator programs.

Leadership incubators have a clear advantage over classic classroom trainings, which do not allow organizations to assess leadership preparedness of their HiPos. These are an effective way to assess how participants apply organizational learning to provide solutions to real business problems and to lead others. For participants, it is a more engaging way to develop critical skills that they will need as they grow in the organization but also a sign that their leadership trusts them to solve mission-critical problems.


Post by Guillaume Gevrey – C2C Director & Principal Consultant

Is Coaching the Holy Grail of Performance Management?

In today’s business world we now can compete with each other in a virtual market space where time and space get a whole different meaning. However, amongst all these changes, some things remain the same. Business is essentially still about making money or saving money and therefore about managing the performance of the organisation and perhaps more accurately managing the human capital performance.

When we think of human capital performance, coaching is one of the first things that come to mind. In the last decade, coaching has firmly taken its seat in the business world and has proven that it is here to stay. But what is “coaching for performance”? How do you do that? There is still a lot of confusion and misconception around it and people are wondering if coaching really is the Holy Grail of performance management.

Having explored performance management, it seems to be mainly a process driven system that is externally imposed on the employee i.e. outside-in. However, introducing coaching creates an inside-out approach, for the power of coaching lies very much in the fact that it works exactly the opposite way. With coaching the employees themselves are the centre and starting point for performance management and they are asked to evaluate themselves. This particularly works well when you have a high-trust culture, helpful systems that are tools not goals in themselves (Stephen Covey, The 8th Habit).

Looking at performance management, it is captured between two extremes; one end can be defined as “managing with the carrot” or using ‘soft’ development techniques and the other end of the scale as “managing with the stick” or using ‘hard’ measurement techniques. Each approach has its own positives and drawbacks. Organisations that have implemented a performance management system will fall somewhere between ‘development’ and ‘measurement’ (Hay Group, 2006)

Most companies are managing for performance through performance measurement (Hay Group, 2006). The traditional way to do that is through performance appraisals (a method by which the job performance of an employee is measured and evaluated), and that is where the performance management system starts to break down.

For many organizations and managers it might feel as a paradox, but it seems that to get your employees to become more self-evaluating, self-developing and ultimately self-managing, you need to loosen the grip and start getting used to being in command but out of control (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink).

We have seen that a balanced approach is needed in performance management, between measurement and development, left and right brain approach.

In coaching, great breakthroughs in reframing an employee’s perception and letting them move forward (i.e. develop) are made when balancing the left and right brain approach to things. The typical left brain dominant person will look at things in a narrow and deep way, while the right brain dominant person tends to take a wide and perhaps more shallow view. The combination of left and right (not necessarily both at the same time, as it can be very powerful to switch sides multiple times) will give the person a wide and deep view.

Therefore a person who is extremely left brained in their view of a certain situation will benefit hugely by shifting their perception through looking at things from a right brain perspective (and vice versa).

So there is only one last thing to do and that is to answer the question… is coaching the Holy Grail of performance management?

Based on my research, the answer is ‘No’, it is not. Although coaching has brought balance to performance management by shifting the focus towards performance development, we also need to be realistic and admit that the corporate world at this point in time is still dominated by the focus on either making money and/or saving money. Therefore businesses will ultimately remain aligned and organised to support that goal.

However, coaching has not just shifted the balance, it is very much shifting the balance towards performance development and focus on people. It might just be a matter of time before we reach the tipping point, that magical moment when the concept of coaching has reached a critical mass and tips the scales. How far we are removed from that moment is unsure, but perhaps later in hindsight we are able to say… ‘Yes’ coaching was indeed the Holy Grail, not just for performance management but for the entire corporate world.


Post by Vincent Bouw – Director & Principal Consultant at C2C