How Important is Praise in Business?

When to Praise

Knowing when and how to praise

Many psychologists would agree that positive reinforcement is significantly more effective than punishment. Many executives would agree employee recognition leads to an increased bottom line. Many doctors would agree that the release of dopamine in the brain whenever we hear something we enjoy is a powerful thing. And then there are the studies.

Ragan.com shares a collection of studies that sets the record straight, direct from the mouths of employees themselves. And the results are as important as they are unsurprising. A whopping 78% of U.S. workers say being recognized motivates them in their job, while 69% say they’d work harder if they were better recognized. And in the interest of employee retention, you might want to note that 49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.

So it’s no surprise that employees want to hear that they’re doing a good job from time to time. You probably do, too. It’s a key factor in motivation and engagement and it could be one of the biggest factors in keeping your employees off LinkedIn job searches.

When to Praise

So you know praise is important and that your employees are likely to give a better performance with it by their side, but how often do your employees want to be praised? Ragan.com says employees want some kind of recognition every 7 days. Unfortunately, studies show only 16% of leaders meet that expectation, while 51% only offer praise once a quarter, or even more infrequently.

You might find every 7 days is a bit frequent but understand praise doesn’t have to be a big gesture; it could just be a genuine pat on the back. Or, it could be more…

Types of Praise

Frequent praise can be a quick “good job” or another version of verbal high-fiving. But there are other options to consider. Ragan.com breaks down what kind of recognition employees value most at work:

  • 24% prefer rewards like money or gift cards
  • 28% prefer regular ol’ praise
  • 30% prefer growth opportunities

Praise Mistakes

So what might you be doing wrong? Here are some common mistakes managers make in an attempt to bridge the recognition gap.

  • Offering token gestures – recognition should fit the degree of achievement. Offering a stapler for someone’s 10-year anniversary might not match up. Likewise, don’t go overboard with your offerings.
  • Being wrong – don’t mix up someone’s name or achievement. Congratulating someone on a job well done that they didn’t do, or passing over a key contributor, might cause more harm than good.
  • Being vague – when you say “good job,” tie an action to it. What did they do a good job on? Be specific.

So how do you measure up against these statistics? Are you offering as much recognition as desired by your team, or do you have some room for growth? If it’s the latter, put in some honest effort and see if things don’t turn around.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Change is Coming: 6 Ways to Manage Your Team Through the Chaos

Start with you

Start with you

Change can ruffle the feathers of any company making it a great time for good managers to shine. An effective leader helps ease team tensions while paving the way for open-minded, forward thinking; providing both a safe space for employees to feel secure and a growing company that nurtures change.

But saving the day is easier said than done so if you’re facing impending change and are uncertain about its possible effects, start with these 6 steps and be on your way to healthy corporate growth.

  1. If you’re reluctant about the change or feeling overwhelmed by its possible impact, your team will feel that. Your worry will be heard in the details you translate, your tone of voice and even your body language. So start by allowing yourself to figure out the details, address your concerns and create a positive approach before transmitting to our team.
  2. Encourage closure
    In order to embrace change, people need to let go of the past. This could mean certain roles will change, partnerships may get mixed up and workplace comfort zones will be jolted. As a people manager, you have to plan to help your team accept change and adapt so let them know it’s okay to say goodbye to the comfort of the past because the future could be even better.
  3. Identify the safe spaces
    Studies have shown that only 15% of a role has to change in order for an employee to feel like they’re working an entirely new job. Working together to help them identify which parts of their job are staying the same can help shift that perspective while giving them something comfortable to get them through the transition.
  4. Be open and honest
    This may seem like a given but you might not always be able to share as much information as you’d like. Work extra hard when you can, though. Offer as many details as possible and keep the lines of communication open. This includes addressing the Whys, Hows and What Ifs to diminish feelings of uncertainty and adverse feelings. When you have nothing new to report, ensure them you will relay any and all information once it comes by you.
  5. Involve yourselves
    Having your team involved in even the smallest aspect of the changes can help ease the feelings of helplessness and improve morale. Participation in any phase of change can also be great for team exposure and spreading a positive adaptation of new things, which can help both your team and the organization in the long run.
  6. Offer individual support
    Everyone reacts to change in their own way, so take the time to meet with each employee and explore their unique perspective of the new environment. Allow each team member to express their own concerns and offer your support where possible.

Change is scary in most cases, but when it comes to someone’s job, it gets even scarier. As a manager, it’s your job to help ease the transition by limiting stress on your employees and cultivating a positive, open environment.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Ways to Tell If You’re Abusing Your Authority

Do you encourage failure?

Do you encourage failure?

Being the boss is tricky sometimes. You want to create an environment of trust and respect while encouraging efficiency and managing a positive work environment. You can’t please everyone and when working with different personalities and stressors of your own, you might not even realize you’ve participated in some unsavory management tactics to get through the day.

To save yourself, and your employees, ask yourself the following questions to ensure you’re not taking advantage of your power.

Are you using intimidation to reach success?

Bullies are easy to spot because they don’t bully everyone, only those they feel enough power over to victimize. So you should ask yourself if certain members of your team make you feel more powerful than others and then begin to examine why.

Boss bullying can occur by way of sarcasm, yelling and sometimes even physical violence such as slamming drawers, throwing things and mishandling staff. If you use intimidation or humiliation tactics to get results from your team, consider that they’re simply complying with demands to avoid the brunt of your rage. Bullying behavior warrants lower performance and increased absenteeism, to name just a few negative reactions.

Do you manipulate?

If in an effort to meet business objectives, you find yourself choosing your immediate needs over the business’ long-term needs by way of lies and mind games, you might be a manipulator.

Making false promises to promote an employee so as to get better performance from them, pinning staff against each other, taking sides and picking favorites are a few signs to look for.

Are you a colleague-boss?

Do you try to be the “cool boss” by denying your power and trying to make everyone else feel equal? While there can be benefits to this tactic, without proper finesse and the right perspective you could be causing more harm than good. By failing to acknowledge the power you have regarding promotions, salaries, hiring and firing and access to information, you’re building a false reality within the department. You might even read as insecure and uncomfortable with your own authority which does more harm than just allow you to be taken advantage of; you’re also untrustworthy which can make your staff uncomfortable, too. And when the time comes for you to use your power to make a decision, your staff will be faced with the sudden reality that they’re not your equal after all.

Do you intrude on your employees’ privacy?

No one feels comfortable working for a snoopy boss. If you don’t trust your employees, a problem exists too large to fix by standing over their computer screen or checking their printing queue. Instead of quietly creeping up on working employees or keeping your ear tight on coffee break chatter, learn how to build a bigger trust among the team.

Do you encourage failure?

Do you set unrealistic goals for your employees or change project guidelines often, causing extra work and stress on the team? Do you avoid providing honest and constructive feedback? Do you withhold information that could be vital in the success of a project? You might be setting your staff up to fail and taking a deeper look is in everyone’s best interest.

You probably don’t mean to abuse your authority but if you find yourself questioning any of the above, you might want to reevaluate your management technique. It’s important for you to keep your perspective through the daily stress of being the boss otherwise you’ll lose the team’s respect and much more loss will follow suit.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

How Optimizing Meeting Roles Could Save Big Bucks

Prioritize themes and goals

Prioritize themes and goals

If time is money, workplace meetings could sure rack up a huge bill. Meetings and events often take up a larger chunk of an organization’s budget than most might suspect, so it’s important to optimize space, goals and roles to ensure the company is seeing the best return on investment.

Prioritize themes and goals

Be sure to establish the goal of the meeting as a parameter for all necessary discussions and action items to fit within. If there are no takeaways or plans for change, the meeting could be considered a waste of time. Avoid time-wasters by considering the who, the why and the what’s next? And plan for follow-ups as necessary.

Invite only those who are necessary to the meeting

Video conferences might charge per person, so the cost for including non-essential employees is clear. But even when dealing with in-person meetings and events, inviting those who aren’t critical to the meeting or event is an unnecessary use of their time. Over time, this could add up to the illusion of poor work performance.

Don’t pay for things you don’t need

For long distance meetings, opt for technology over travel. With Skype and video conferencing, traveling from the Denver office to the New York office can be saved for bigger events worth the time and expenditure.

Shop around

If booking hotel conferences, be sure to negotiate for free wi-fi. Seek contracted group rates for guest rooms and ensure cancellation fees are avoidable. Choose the dates and times wisely whenever possible so you can take advantage of off-season rates.

Meetings may be important for info shares, team building, brainstorming and the like, but be sure you’re not overstepping any boundaries where money and time can be saved. Proper meeting management can make or break your bottom line.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Are You One of the Horrible Bosses?

The Monster

The Monster

Not all types of bosses are horrible, but even if you’re trying your best, you might be using methods that don’t translate to your employees with the same intention you think they do. Let us help you figure out what type(s) of boss you might be and how you can make some minor adjustments to improve your relationship with the team.

The Buddy

Are you trying hard to be friends with your team? Making jokes, being lenient about the rules, planning fun events to bond over? While levity has its place in the office, make sure you’re not using your coolness to detract from actually taking care of your team where it matters. Free pizza might be a nice bonus on a Friday afternoon but if those tactics distract you from being knowledgeable and reliable during the rest of the day, you might need to reprioritize. Your employees are seeing through it, whether you want to believe it or not.

The Phantom

Are you always on some kind of business trip or locked away behind the closed door of your office? Being a trusted manager means you need to put in some face time with your team. Don’t leave the team searching for guidance and coming up short because they can’t find you or know how to approach you. Being present and engaging is important.

The Manipulator

Do you find yourself making promises you can’t keep just to appease a situation? You’re likely causing more harm than good. Lip service from a manager is one of the most frustrating things for an employee to endure and when they don’t get the promotion you promised, your tactics will backfire quickly. Be an honest advocate for your team; they’ll understand your limitations, you don’t have to play mind games.

The Softy

If you think you’re making it easier on your employees to use kid-gloves when managing, you’re not. Eventually the overall needs of the business will catch up to you and your team alike, and by then everyone will feel too overwhelmed to be productive. Being the boss means making difficult decisions. If you’re too nice to make those decisions, you’ll end up molding a lazy team that will grow to disrespect you in no time. Give your team the chance to be proactive rather than reactive.

The Monster

Don’t be a softy, but don’t be harsh on your team, either. People skills are crucial to your success as a manager and if you’re missing general human decency, perhaps you should consider a role where you interact less with coworkers. Shaming your staff or being unnecessarily difficult when it comes to work challenges or personal issues will provide you with a fearful, resentful, unproductive group of employees. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager, if this is particularly difficult for you, it might be time for a change.

Your intentions are probably pure but your methods might not reflect that. Don’t let your own workplace pressures get in the way of how you manage your team. Leadership involves understanding, guidance and the proper perspective; the results you’ll get from the right balance of that will be worth it.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Ways to Tell If You’re Not Listening to Your Team

stock-footage-employees-listening-intently-to-their-ceo-presenting-a-review

Pardon the Interruption

You’ve got a full plate – I won’t try to argue with you on that. But being busy implementing new ideas and meeting your boss’s expectations is no excuse to ignore the people-managing portion of your job.

Your employees are always trying to tell you something whether you want to hear it or not. So how do you know if you’re the kind of boss they feel comfortable bringing honest feedback to, or if you’re the kind of boss they won’t waste their time on?

  1. Pardon the Interruption

Are you interrupting? Assuming? Judging? Distracted?

These are not four qualities of a good listener but they might be qualities of an overworked boss. The key to listening is being quiet; that includes you, your inner monologue and the external distractions. Put the phone away, stop checking your email, just offer your full attention to the matter at hand. Listen with both ears.

  1. Can You Elaborate?

Are you asking more questions and engaging?

Never assume you have information you don’t. If you’re engaged with a concerned employee, ask as many questions as you can until you fully understand the situation. Listen with new ears and you’ll be surprised not just by what new things you learn but by how appreciated your employee will feel.

  1. One More Thing

Are you following up?

Just because the conversation is over, doesn’t mean your involvement is. Failing to remember the discussion can jeopardize your trustworthiness and forgetting to follow up can do even more damage. If the chat concluded with an action item you were supposed to move on, be sure you do it. You’ll hear from your employees less and less if they feel ignored.

  1. If You’re Happy and You Know it

Do you know what your employees want and need to keep them engaged and happy?

Are you familiar with the people on your team enough to know what matters most to them? Perhaps you think a great work incentive is to offer midday snacks to break the 2pm slump but what if Joanie, a tired mother of 3, is on a diet? Perhaps a better treat would be to let your employees off work 15 minutes early. Then Joanie can grab a healthy snack and spend some extra time with the kids before bedtime. An incentive idea might sound great to you but as with most things in life, know your audience. And don’t be surprised if the snack cart doesn’t motivate the way you expected.

  1. Listen with your Eyes

Sometimes your employees will feel too scared or uncomfortable to bring something to your attention directly. Don’t blame them for it. Instead, open your eyes and see if you notice anything about morale, productivity or office politics that might need addressing. Surely you’ve had experiences in the past where you wanted to share something with your boss but didn’t feel comfortable doing so. Did you show any distress signs? Your team is likely going to draw on the same ones when things go wrong.

People want to matter; they want to be heard. One of the most frustrating experiences you could provide an employee is to ignore, patronize or judge their concerns.

Your employees are the expert of their jobs. They’re on the frontlines doing the hands on work. So be sure you’re listening to what they’re trying to communicate to you. It’s imperative that you believe it and it’s imperative that you help them believe it.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

How to Tell if You’re Supporting the Team Proportionately

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Are you evenly divvying up your time?

Are you playing favorites with your employees? Initially you may think that’s a crazy question, but what if your actions told your team a different story?

Managing a variety of personality types may present a unique challenge and one that if ignored, could result in some member of the team feeling less favored and overlooked.

Your job is to treat your employees with fairness in relation to the inherent inequalities that come with the job. In other words, not every employee will be equally motivated or successful; some are bound to be stars, making big sales, working after hours, growing exponentially. That employee should be the first to get approved for a day off; that’s not favoritism, it’s fairness.

But fairness isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are some ways to notice if you’re treating your employees differently based on all the wrong things.

  • You remind me of me – are you prone to being more inclusive to employee who mostly resembles you? Are you both the same gender, nationality, sexuality or religion? Do you both have kids the same age? Do you look similarly? Come from the same city? Have the same career goals? While these qualities could make it more pleasant to work with the person, giving them special treatment or using them as your go-to based solely on the comfortable feeling they give you would be showing preferential treatment.
  • We have the same outside hobbies – so you both root for the Giants or like listening to classic rock? Maybe you both like golfing a few holes on the weekend. Does this make you more prone to share your work time with this employee? Are you putting them in charge of the new project because you feel you know them a little better? This is preferential treatment.
  • MY boss loves you – ignoring all other factors in effort to play in to your boss’ opinion is a bad idea. If the employee isn’t meeting the requirements of the job and your manager doesn’t see it, playing into their admiration can cause problems in productivity and office morale. Definitely avoid this preferential treatment.
  • Sharing the same vices – don’t let the bond you forge over smoke breaks and coffee breaks give them the one-up on new projects. Once your back in the office, make sure everyone’s on a level playing field.

So you realized you do, in fact, favorite some employees for the wrong reasons. What should you ask yourself to correct the effects?

Are your decisions clear? When you make a tough decision, you might need to explain how you arrived at it to avoid misinterpretations. Implement a standard for assignment delegation: if Bill has accounting experience, he can do the budget. If Mary handles marketing, she gets to go to the marketing seminar.  If Joe has more seniority, he gets the first pick of vacation days.

Are you evenly divvying up your time? A manager’s time is a precious thing, if you find yourself with one go-to employee, you’re probably sending a powerful message. Dividing your time equally, whether weekly, monthly or quarterly will display your commitment to building team relationships. Focused one-on-one check-ins are a great way to begin doing this.

Is everyone aware of their performance and expectations? Are you offering transparent feedback about the performance of your team or are you leaving them guessing? If it’s the latter, you should reconsider. Being up front with how an employee is doing will eliminate the unnecessary ambiguity that might be fueling the fire.

It’s not uncommon for you to have people you prefer to work with, but a leader cannot create an environment where employees feel unimportant, unchallenged and underappreciated. Be careful to sidestep those instinctual favoriting behaviors and re-engage with your team as a whole.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Exit Strategy: How to Seamlessly Handoff Your Role

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Get Your Projects Up to Date

There are several reasons you might be ready to pack it in at work; finding a new job, taking a temporary leave or being laid off. Each situation warrants its own level of sensitivity but whether you’re leaving by choice, circumstance or temporarily, aiding in the transitioning process can be the mutually beneficial happy ending everyone deserves.

You might be checked out, you might be tired, you might even be angry, but leaving your job on good terms is a must in this work climate.   Assisting in the job handoff is a great way to show your professionalism.

When You’re the One Leaving

Get your projects up to date – if you clean up the backlog as much as possible before the transition takes effect, your incoming replacement will be able to learn and adjust with more ease. It won’t be possible to finish everything, but don’t start abandoning your work just yet.

Gather tips and info for your replacement – A quick guide about the ins and outs of the systems, processes and insider tips that will make their transition go smoothly will offer a big impact to the team, your manager and the company. It’s an insight you can offer easily that will go a long way.

Connect with business associates – it’s a great idea to introduce your contacts to your new replacement so they’re comfortable with the transition as well. Clients and colleagues alike would appreciate hearing from you to know you’ll be stepping down and someone else will be taking your place.

Prepare for your new role – don’t forget to prepare for your upcoming new job. It’s important to help handoff your current role but your future success depends on you taking the time to get ready for the next step of your career. Be sure to find the right balance.

 

When Your Employee Is the One Leaving

Don’t assign new work – managers should be careful to not assign any new work that isn’t completely necessary. If your exiting employee is willing to stick around and help in the transition, it’s important you don’t take advantage of that. Delegate the projects properly without bogging down the person on their way out.

Work together on a To-Do list – work with your employee on the things you’d like them to help you with before their exit, such as any pressing projects that need completion or final loose ends to tie down. Be sure to check in with them so they can tell you if it’s feasible in the given time frame.

Check in often – it’s important to maintain communication with them at this point. How are they managing their transition work? Do they need help? Be a supportive presence to encourage the handoff goes smoothly for both them and their replacement.

 

Whether you’re leaving or a member of your team is on their way out, a role transition is important for everyone involved. Be patient, supportive and work together to make it a seamless change.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Conflict Management at the Executive Level

Conflict-Management

Claim your responsibility

A leader reaches their post in the corporate structure because they’re strong; strong-willed, strong-minded, strong-armed. While those qualities may be a great asset to the job in many circumstances, it may be a detriment when it comes to conflict.

Even the most seasoned leaders can find themselves butting heads with other company decision-makers. With so much at stake and such powerful people at the wheel, any conflict big or small could cause quite the office battle.

But it’s important for leaders to keep their cool and still be able to carry out the tasks and people-managing their job requires. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re facing an executive conflict of your own.

Acknowledge what this conflict is costing you

Your power of influence could be compromised while in the throes of an executive conflict. Even if you’ve managed to keep your struggle quiet, employees can tell when their leaders are under the wrong kind of pressure. How are your direct reports looking at you? Is your management influence taking a hit?

How is your boss perceiving your behavior? Are you carrying yourself well during this contest? Don’t let the disagreement cost you your job or your respect. Stay connected to your day-to-day priorities which should include your colleagues.

Claim your responsibility

It’s hard to admit fault, especially if you really haven’t committed any powerful wrongdoing. But it’s important to adjust your perspective to include your own shortcomings and how they may have an effect on the conflict. Have you broken any agreements or fell back on accountability? Now’s the time to claim your part in this conflict.  Admitting to wrongdoing and working toward fixing it is always a mutually beneficial thing to do, so be sure you’re in good standing with your colleagues, direct reports and manager.

Have the Talk

It may be time for you and your disagreeing colleague to sit down mano-a-mano and discuss the conflict face-to-face. It should be possible to resolve an executive conflict internally; after all, leading by example is something you’ve mastered by now. If you’re taking a meeting to discuss the challenges at hand, be sure to adhere to a few peace-keeping guidelines:

  • Avoid accusations – there’s nothing productive about egging someone on. You may think you’re right, but that doesn’t make the other party any more wrong.
  • Use “I” statements – you can’t speak for anybody but yourself.
  • Set a goal – consider something you can agree on: a goal to reach a solution. Don’t rehash your disagreeing viewpoints, speak productively with the best interest of the company and employees in mind.

Conflict is always a challenge no matter the time, place or risks involved. It’s especially hard when you’re in a position of authority and all eyes are on you. And when the benefit of the company is at stake because executives can’t find common ground, a lot more than just your pride is on the line. So take it slow and remember you’re all experienced, educated human beings – you’ve got this.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Steps to Manage Effective Meetings

So you’ve held a lot of meetings in your career and haven’t gotten any complaints yet? It’s still a worthy idea to explore our check list and make sure you’re doing everything you can to hold valuable, engaging meetings that don’t waste too much time.

  1. Make It Matter

This may seem like an obvious one but we’ve all sat through those meetings where we wondered why we were there in the first place. Asking employees and colleagues away from their desk for any extended amount of time should be done with purpose, so make sure you have an agenda, a goal and only invite the necessary team members. If your meeting topic can be handled easily in an email, opt for that instead.

  1. What Was That Part About an Agenda?

Before the meeting even begins, when it’s just an idea and a blip on your calendar, you should be compiling information and ideas. Outline your topics and define your goals and then distribute that to the team prior to the meeting so they can prepare anything they might want to add or ask. If everyone goes into the meeting on the same page, imagine how much more could be gained and time could be saved.

  1. Ask For Input

Meetings shouldn’t consistently be lectures where you stand up and blurt out information and everyone else listens. Everyone gets more out of the conference if you allow for collaboration and sharing. If you’re presenting an idea about a certain task or department, ask those who already do that task or work in that department what their input is.

  1. … But Keep in Charge

It’s great if you hold the types of meetings where people can just speak up when they have something to add, but sometimes this can prove problematic. If an argument erupts or someone starts to take over the meeting to prove their own point, you’ll want to step in and take back the reigns. Efficient conversation is good, a hostile takeover is not.

  1. End it with Action

Before everyone leaves the room, ensure you’ve been clear about the next steps. What are the actionable items that need to be executed to accomplish the goals you discussed during the meeting? Who will be in charge of which action items? What’s the time frame for completion? Who will they report to in the process? Be clear about these expectations and be sure to follow up, otherwise your meeting was just hot air.

So in just 5 easy steps, you can take your meetings from inefficient and one-sided to productive, team-building sessions.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.