The Art of Strengths Coaching

R is for Describing The Results You Will Deliver Before Focusing On The Resources And Roles  

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Several years ago I was asked to work with a senior manager who had difficulty getting past the interview stage when applying for jobs.

Inviting them to describe their most recent interview, I asked how they had positioned what they could offer to the potential employer. The person said:

I talked a lot about the culture I would build, because I believe it is important to nurture people and help them to flourish.

The people on the panel nodded a lot, so I thought we saw things the same way. But unfortunately I did not progress to the next stage of the process. 

Bearing in mind this description, I asked the obvious question.

Before you starting talking about culture, did you reassure the interviewers by describing the specific results you would deliver?”

They gave the following response. 

No, I assumed people knew that I would deliver the results. They only needed to look at my track record to see that. I wanted to make sure they understood how I would get the best from people.

The senior manager was open to starting by reassuring the key stakeholders. This eventually led to them securing their desired role. They recognised that:

People buy success. They don’t buy the theory of success.

Some people make the mistake of spending lots of time talking about role definition and the resources they require without ever mentioning the results they will produce. This can be unsettling for stakeholders.

Looking back, can you recall a situation when you got backing by first describing the results you would deliver? You then moved on to getting the required resources and clarifying your own role in delivering success.

You may have done this when applying for a job, getting support for a project or gaining the autonomy you required. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you described the results you would deliver before successfully asking for the required resources and defining clear roles.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

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The results approach can work in many different situations. One leader used it to good effect when moving from his UK role to that of leading the EMEA Region for his USA based company.

Before travelling to the USA for his interview, he and I met to prepare for the session. The leader explained the challenge in the following way.

I have a track record of continually growing the business in the UK. Over the past two years, however, my bosses have kept asking me to take over running Europe, Middle East and Africa.  

This sounds great, but it would probably also mean moving abroad. There are hub offices in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv.  

I could manage the travel. But relocating to Paris, where I might be asked to move, does not fit for our family at this stage. My parents are getting older and I want to be around to look after them.

Our children are also at a critical stage in school. Whilst they would learn a lot from being in another country – probably learning languages much quicker than me – it is not the right time for them to move.  

Looking at the interview process, I get the message that for me it is now either up or out. If I am unwilling to take the role, then I may need to start looking elsewhere. This sounds crazy, but it is how our company operates.

The leader and I clarified the key messages he would give during the interview. He would begin by emphasising the ‘What’ – the results he would deliver.

The aim would be to get the stakeholders over an emotional line where they really wanted these results. Only then would he focus on ‘How’ he would deliver the goods. This included where he wanted to live.

The interview went well. Returning to the UK, he explained what had happened during the session. He had opened the interview by saying something like the following.

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the role. If I get the job, I will aim to deliver the following profits in the next year. 

* 

*

*

I will also make sure our company’s product is the Number One in the following markets.

* 

* 

* 

I will ensure that we publish at least three customer success stories in the following countries: 

* 

* 

*

I will also build teams that produce leaders that can go on and help to build a successful future for the company.

The stakeholders liked what they heard. One of them interrupted him to say:

That sounds excellent. When might you be able to start?

The leader replied by saying the following.

I can start relatively soon. When doing so, however, it will be important for me to get some early successes.  

Looking around the region, I will aim to deliver early wins in certain territories. Here are some examples:

* 

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The intention will be to bring along three satisfied customers to the next world congress. They will be able to share the principles that have worked and maybe others can apply these in other parts of the world.

I will also proactively keep you informed about the progress that is being made. It important to make sure that you know what is happening in the various regions.

The main stakeholder interrupted to say:

Good, can we look at what you will need in the way of help?

The leader answered in the following way.

As I mentioned, the specific results I will deliver will be:

* 

*

*

I will keep you informed of the progress. There is, however, a bit of a challenge. 

My parents are not in great health and our children are at a critical time in school. I will spend the main parts of each week in the various offices, but my family and I would like to remain in the UK for the time being.

As I mentioned, I will produce the goods.

The key stakeholder chimed in to say:

As long as you deliver the results, it does not matter where you live. We also know you have a good track record of building teams that develop future leaders. So this won’t be a problem. 

Can we talk about the transition?

The leader accepted the role. One year later I met him to explore how it was going. He gave an overview of his schedule.

Strangely, I seem to have a better quality of life than when I was running the UK Business.

I used to arrive on Monday morning to be met by a long list of problems that needed sorting out. Most days I worked from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm. This left little time to see the kids or my parents.

Now I take our children to school on Monday morning and then fly out to one of the offices. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is usually spent visiting customers and colleagues in various countries.

These are long but fruitful days. We do a lot of quality work with customers, rather than rushing around fire fighting.

Sometimes I fly home on Thursday night. On Friday I take the kids to school and spend the rest of the day working from home.

Looking at my schedule, I still put in lots of hours. But I feel much healthier and have more job satisfaction. My bosses are also pleased about the results we have delivered.

Different people have different ways of getting the resources they require to do the job. One approach is to start by reassuring stakeholders that they will deliver success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things. 

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to describe the results you will deliver before asking for the required resources and defining clear roles.  

Describe the specific things you can do to take these steps. 

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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