2013 Blog Articles by Joe Ryan

Change and the Individual

October 10, 2013

Employment surveys reveal that the average American worker has become increasingly disengaged from their jobs and careers.  A decreased sense of shared ownership, buy-in, and loyalty are a few factors at work here.  The  sluggish economy and job market has dampened worker mobility.  People are staying in jobs longer because other opportunities are relatively scarce.  The large-scale layoffs of 2008 and 2009 created a leaner workforce.  Fewer employees have meant increased workloads and work hours.  Fewer new job and career opportunities, increased workloads, and smaller wage increases have all contributed to an overall uptick in the publicized worker disengagement.

This historically high percentage of disengagement harms both employee and organization.  Unmotivated workers means lower morale and performance.  The workplace culture sours and production and quality suffer.  Many employees want a change in their job, career, or life direction but are stymied by uncertainty and anxiety about how to make that happen.

My experience aligns with this new reality.  Many friends, acquaintances, and people who I have met yearn to change jobs, careers, employers, bosses, and life direction.   They feel stagnant, unfulfilled, bored, burned out, and trapped in their job and career.

The current economy, although improving, has been slow to add new jobs and opportunities for employed and unemployed workers, alike.  A highly educated and skilled friend recently complained that his employer kept ratcheting up workload expectations. His work-life balance, he said, was a “joke.” Even though his company’s earnings  were at an all-time high, pay raises were anemic and bonuses were rare.   My friend went on to exclaim that he would “give his right leg” just get out of his current job/career and do something more fulfilling.  What once energized him was now sapping his energy and happiness.

We all ride a virtual vehicle that propels us into our own future.  The future we ultimately get is the one we chose.  What will your future be like?

The Actions of a Competent and Certified Professional Coach

September 30, 2013

A skilled coach, regardless of their niche, must have certain qualities. When choosing a coach to help you solve a problem and achieve a successful change, look for the following attributes.


Organizations and Change

September 1, 2013

Many organizations have attempted to implement critical change only to see their efforts eventually lose steam and fizzle.  Business journals are full of such sad accounts!  The typical reasons organizational change initiatives fail include a lack of communicated context, ineffective leadership, poor communication, general  confusion, a lack of marketing and salesmanship, inadequate project management, preparation, and analysis, limited resources, an entrenched culture of disengagement and risk adversity, unclear expectations, and soft management support, etc.  Employees may view the proposed change effort as the latest “flavor of the month”.

What happened?  The better question is what didn’t happen?  Poorly planned business change initiatives are usually doomed from the start.  Pushing a failed change initiative back onto the rails, so to speak, is difficult because a “negative branding” has taken hold.  It is wiser for any ill-prepared organization to resist starting a flawed change process.  Whatever preparation can be completed, prior to the initiative’s launch, will be beneficial.

A lot rides on organizational change initiatives.  Business success and professional reputations are just a few elements whose well-being is linked to the successful execution of the change initiative.  Failure can unleash a harmful sense of breakdown, blame, and cynicism.

Does your organization practice the “ready, fire, aim” approach to change initiatives or does it perform a more planned and prudent approach?  A solid foundation of planning and preparation will always separate success from failure.

Despite its ubiquity, change is, perhaps, the most challenging aspect of life and business!

My Coaching Focus

August 25, 2013

I coach clients to understand, conquer, and embrace change!  Although it is everywhere, change is sometimes difficult to understand, accept, undertake, and accomplish for many people.  Everything we see and touch is in a state of flux.  Change is an integral part of our universe.  There is no escaping its effects.  A mentor once told me that if someone didn’t believe in change, they ought to look in the mirror!

Have you ever tried breaking an old habit?  Have you or a friend tried dieting, started an exercise program, or stopped smoking?  Was it easy?  Was it a cinch?  Most likely, the answer was a resounding no!  For many, change has brought discomfort, uncertainty, a fear of failure, a lack of resolve, a loss in personal prestige, overall difficulty, and more work!  Did I leave anything out?

Is it any wonder that most change attempts, especially larger scale change efforts, fail?  Without the proper groundwork, planning, pervasive communication, unshakeable client resolve, and expert assistance, most change efforts will stumble, if not fail.  The good news is the story can have a very happy ending.  With training and coaching expertise, the individual or organization will be successful in achieving their goals!

What is Coaching?

August 12, 2013

When people hear the words coach or coaching, they often think of sports.  Coaching, however, is also key to the success of many non-sports activities and processes that can be either professional or personal in nature.  Coaching is a formal, professional, confidential, and developmental relationship between two or more people.  The coach works with a client in a one on one relationship or with multiple clients in a group coaching relationship.  Each scenario has its unique advantages depending on the client’s needs.

A coach collaborates with their client(s) to change and improve at least one aspect of the client’s professional or private life.  There are job and career coaches, business, life, health, leadership, and marriage coaches, etc.

It’s important to reflect upon the reality that the boundary between our professional and personal lives is usually blurry.  One easily influences the other.  Regardless of a client’s specific coaching need, an element of life coaching is usually involved

Limiting beliefs, stubborn habits, assumptions, inferences, and interpretations can do an amazing job of sabotaging our journey to the goal or future we desire.  Without the help of an objective resource like professional coach, a person may languish and fall prey to entrenched and harmful thought patterns and traditions, etc.  Sound familiar?  Albert Einstein stated that insanity was defined as the repetition of actions and thoughts but expecting different results.  Well, many of us are well practiced in this type of “insanity.”  We keep thinking that if we stay the course and repeat whatever we’re doing, we’ll eventually achieve the desired breakthrough.  What’s wrong with that approach, you may ask?  There is nothing “wrong” with that.  Sometimes, this sort of personal perseverance can work.

It’s natural for friends, colleagues, and family to offer well-intentioned advice and coaching, whether we want it or not.  They care about us and want us to succeed.  Their love and consideration, however, will likely influence their advice in ways that are not helpful.  If the issue, change obstacle, or problem is complicated and entrenched, the achievement of lasting success is more difficult without a drastically different approach.

Unbridled by personal feelings and biases, a professional coach will help us understand our need for personal and professional change.  They will hold us accountable for moving out of our comfort zone and navigating the bumpy but rewarding path to a brighter tomorrow.

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