5 surprising practices of extraordinary executive coaches

August 5, 20213 min read

Bruce Dorey is an Executive coach and founder of  Bruce R. Dorey Consulting . He has integrated a technical background with over 30-years extensive corporate and consulting experience, almost half of which is overseas in the Middle East and Europe. In this Voices of OKR piece Bruce shares more about the 5 surprisingly effective and useful practices he’s developed as a coach. 

After 25 years of executive management and 10 years as a CEO and coach, I have developed five surprisingly effective and useful practices for coaches. 

First Practice: Ask “Are we focused on the main thing today?”  

Keep the main thing the main thing!   Sounds simple, yet it’s far from it.  This is what elevates people to accomplish great things by staying focused, dedicated and committed to the one main objective.  

Second Practice: Ask, “Why? Why are we investing our time and energy on this NOW, and is this the most important thing today?”  

The second practice is a natural extension of the first but distinct and essential. It should be clear to everyone that the OKR methodology is only effective for the business IF the strategy is in alignment with the values and purpose of the company or individual.  Don’t do it solely for the money. Do it because it resonates with your values. 

Third Practice: Change your Objectives every month and work in alignment with your natural human biases.  

The third practice involves the process of selecting the Objectives. The common recommendation is to change your objectives every quarter.  The primary reason people fail is lost interest, like the cliché New Year’s resolution.

It’s in our nature to lose interest after a few months. Rather than burn all that mental energy trying to stay focused, “ride the horse in the direction the horse wants to go” (Ronald Regan, 1977). Work with your natural human biases.

Strictly speaking, short-term interest is not a bias, but a predictable indicator of human behavior. With no external influence, we seem to maintain a strong degree of interest for a matter of weeks or even a few months. But with no external influence, interest begins to wane.  

I recommend clients change their Objectives every month. The book Measure What Matters by John Doerr provides an example from a Google/Alphabet executive that kept the same Objective for years. There are many reasons for this exception, but this Objective is fundamentally different from the OKRs of my smaller corporate clients.   

There is also another powerful human bias OKR methodology takes advantage of: availability bias. It is consistently used by Las Vegas Casinos and the advertising industry.  If you show someone something over and over (called priming), it becomes easily available for your brain to retrieve subconsciously.  The OKR process and Gtmhub software enable you to look at your OKR over and over, providing external influence and making your Objectives available for you.  If someone asks you what you’re working on, it’s an easy answer. 

Fourth Practice – Shorter 30-50 minute session – more frequently are more effective and more appreciated than once per month longer sessions.  

The fourth practice is to keep it short-term.  It feels counter-intuitive, but good research suggests 30–50-minute meetings (sessions) are more effective for business coaching than hour-long or more sessions.  

For example, I may have two or three sessions with a client, but none are longer than 50 minutes. From experience, shorter and more frequent sessions work best with OKRs to track with weekly OKR reviews.  

This parallels the third practice — working with our natural human biases — doing what naturally works. By keeping your time horizons short and capping your OKR to 3 months, you align with the tendency to stay focused for 3-4 months before losing interest.

The Fifth Practice: Cascade OKRs in your team.  

The fifth practice might be the most potent: use OKRs to cascade Objectives.  Particularly with smaller teams (4-6 people), cascading OKRs and assigning ownership of specific KR’s to key team members helps focus and drive specific Objectives. This magnified accountability helps unite teams. 

Yes, this doesn’t match exactly what is proposed in many OKR books. However, in my experience, I have found cascading Objectives and assigning KR’s is a powerful way to drive a focused agenda and make change happen quickly. 

Join us on Thursday, August 12  to hear from a leading Executive Coach on teaching the C-suite to adopt OKRs to drive the second act of their careers. 

If you are not able to attend the live webinar but are still interested, sign up and you will receive a link to the recorded version afterward. 

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