Coaching With Compassion AND Performance

Coaching With Compassion AND Performance

Have you ever coached a franchise partner, or even an internal member of staff, only for them to completely push back? The answer may lie in ‘Coaching With Compassion’…

I first read the term ‘Coaching With Compassion’ in the book Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth, by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin L. Smith and Ellen Van Oosten. ‘Coaching With Compassion’ has been the basis for every positive organisational change I’ve ever initiated; I just never realised that’s what it was called!

Most coaching only coaches for performance. The trouble with coaching only for performance is the process may not resonate with a disillusioned franchisee; especially one who may be under contract for 5 or 10 years unless they buy themselves out. Consequently, they don’t see any way forward, so a limiting mindset becomes the main barrier to success. The trouble they cause is an outward expression of the pain they’re experiencing.

Performance and compassion aren’t opposites. You CAN have both, and in fact, performance often follows compassion.

Coaching with compassion can be the best route to improving performance because it considers the human in the middle, first and foremost. Coaching with compassion is the result of a strong franchisor / franchisee relationship, where the franchisee recognises you have their best interests at heart because of the process you follow.

Performance must be linked to what the franchisee wants to achieve. That’s the only way a failing franchisee will commit to the necessary change. Remember, only the carrot works in franchising – never the stick! If you deliver hard truths with a big stick, most franchisees when they hear or feel that message will turn away from it. Even though that self-sabotages their results.

Adopting the ‘compassionate’ approach creates a positive collaborative relationship between the franchisor and franchisee. In a way, you’re helping them to understand that the necessary conversations are not about ‘being weak’. You’re creating a safe space to ensure they don’t feel inhibited by the “breadwinner” mindset mentioned earlier.

Coaching with compassion is not an altruistic, soft approach, but rather about taking responsibility as a franchisor. You’re saying publicly that you want the best for your franchisees. In doing that, you’re recognising that every franchisee needs something different. They’re uniquely human, not just a number you put through a sheep dip process.

I’ve known franchisors who have given their franchise support team the title of ‘coach’. Unfortunately, this is a branding exercise, and a long way from what effective coaching truly looks like. Franchisee coaching is an important, high-value role within your franchise business, and you need the right person (or people) in the role. You need a very specific set of skills to be able to deploy ‘coaching with compassion’ effectively.

Coaching with compassion and coaching for performance are not mutually exclusive. You do need both. However, you need to start with compassion before you move on to performance.

Building “Resonant Relationships”

The coach needs to be given the skills to create what is described as a “resonant relationship” between themselves and the person they’re coaching. The person being coached needs to understand you have their best interests at heart. It’s a collaborative process, but it needs a deep connection to work. You must connect what you are saying with the coachee’s hopes and dreams.

Very often these dreams will be about financial security or legacy. It could be about getting something meaningful for that individual. It could be a bucket list of experiences.

You’re always looking to connect what you’re saying with the hopes and dreams of the individual. Coaching in this way creates positive energy. It creates excitement that energises the coachee and takes them out of their comfort zone.

There has to be an element of stretch in where they want to get to, five or ten years into the franchise agreement. It must be a challenge. But whatever that challenge is, it must be clearly articulated and understood by both parties. This understanding frames all of the one-to-one coaching sessions, monthly meetings, quarterly reviews, etc that you have. You might begin each conversation by reviewing progress against the ten-year goals. Starting your calls this way creates a completely different energy.

Complaining that a franchisee is under-target for the quarter will take you further away from where you need to be. But connecting with someone’s hopes and dreams creates a positive energy to deliver better results. Remember: they’re doing it for them; not for you!

Create a 1-Page Vision Document

When I work with franchisees I create a one-page vision document, which we pin in front of the laptop or somewhere in frequent line of sight. This document connects the business with their hopes and dreams, and with where they want to get to in life. That connection is where inspiration and motivation come from.

If you run a franchise business I believe it’s impossible to “motivate” your franchisees. What you must do instead is inspire your people using positive emotional attractors.

You need to get the balance right between compassion and performance, but the starting point in every relationship is empathy. As a franchisor I used to ask: “are you comfortable for me to become your uncomfortable friend?

I’ve never had anybody say anything other than “yes”! But the question establishes my default position. It makes it okay for us to have uncomfortable conversations when needed.

Adopting a ‘coaching with compassion’ approach can require a leap of faith. I’ve worked with franchisors who have worried they will be taken advantage of by unscrupulous franchisees.

Sometimes, of course, this is true. You must look out for yourself and keep performance in check. But the critical thing is to align yourself in a resonant relationship where you are working collaboratively. This needs to happen at the outset of the relationship; it is exceptionally hard to tack on later.

Please understand that this approach is completely different to how most franchisor / franchisee relationships operate. You’ll no longer find it necessary (or appealing) to wave the franchise contract at troublesome franchisees.

Trust in a relationship like this is difficult to win and can be lost in a second. Research has shown different areas of our brains light up depending on how we are coached. So even well-intentioned coaching delivered in the wrong way can trigger a negative emotional attractor in the coachee’s brain. Once that happens, it’s very hard to repair the relationship, particularly if this has happened multiple times already.

Avoiding The Blame Game

When franchisees start to fail, the first thing they tend to do is blame the franchisor. There are multiple reasons why this happens, but often they simply can’t accept that the problems might be down to them. Understanding that is an important part of being able to deal with the problem. You can’t go in all guns blazing.

With the right conversation and approach, you may even help the franchisee to see that they’re in the wrong place. They might not be the right fit for your model. If this is the case, they must come to that assessment on their own.

In the beginning, I never deployed this approach as a specific strategy; I was simply trying to navigate some tricky conversations! But what I’ve found is that the ‘coaching with compassion’ process helps franchisees to see that the problems are down to them. Perhaps they jumped into the relationship without really understanding what was entailed.

Deployed correctly, this process means that you can create positive exit management strategies that help the franchisee move on, in a way that is amicable and allows both parties to move forward.

Our goal is always to look after the best interests of the individual, who perhaps would be best served doing something else. Square pegs in round holes don’t benefit anyone in the long term. Ultimately it just leads to further toxicity and can poison the whole franchisee ecosystem. Franchisees typically feel a camaraderie with fellow franchisees, so If one’s vibrating at a low vibration, then they all start vibrating at a low vibration.

Instead, you want to lead through inspiration and get a positive emotional attractor flying through the room. When the vibration is right, positivity will be everywhere. No problems will be insurmountable. By taking a different approach we’re creating a positive, powerful energy within the franchise. Franchising success ultimately depends on franchisees bringing positivity into the network and helping the network to grow.

I once knew a very wise franchise owner, who told me the following…

“If you’ve got a hundred franchisees and every franchisee brings one good idea to the table, you’ve got a hundred good ideas. But if everybody is bringing negativity to the table, they’ll find excuses as to why they are not being successful. They won’t look at themselves or take responsibility for their actions. That negative energy can and will flow around the ecosystem.“

Be Proactive – Not Reactive

Our goal here is to create an environment and culture that proactively addresses problems before they surface. This environment needs to be in place at the outset of the relationship, right from the minor details of the first interaction.

The world of franchising is nuanced, so your implementation of this approach might vary. Coaching with compassion is a framework; a way of working; a culture. There are specific skills you’ll need, but these can be nurtured and developed.

It doesn’t matter where you are currently in your franchising journey; whether you’re bringing on your first franchise, or your 500th. The most important thing is to proactively engage in these conversations and operate from the perspective that every human being is different.

We all have self-limiting beliefs. We all deal with stress differently, Our resilience varies. All these things need to be thought about on an individual basis, as well as a network-wide basis. But we need to think first and foremost about that individual human relationship.

Coaching with compassion only works when it is underpinned by a level of trust. Franchisees must feel, deeply and truly, that you want the best for them, and will do everything within your power to help them achieve their goals. This is why I frequently refer to franchisees as ‘franchise partners’. This wording matters: the way you name things defines your outlook to the relationship.

The relationship between franchisor and franchise partner typically is not equal. But when you work at the relationship from a partnership approach, that’s where the magic of franchising can happen.

Sadly, I’ve seen the other side as well. But knowing how bad things can get acts as a motivator to ensure that we are doing things the right way from the outset. That includes attracting the right franchisee in the first instance. I’ve seen so many franchisees make the mistake of focusing on acquisition, just to get another franchisee on board and fast money in the bank.

We’re in this for long-term collaborative success. That’s why I love franchising, and hopefully you do too!

The Franchology® purpose statement is ‘transforming franchising together’. I honestly believe that Franchisors who are driven by purpose, have an amazing opportunity to make Franchising the number one growth strategy globally!

If you feel inspired to be part of that exciting journey, I would love to hear from you, so please get in touch here to arrange a no-obligation coffee and a chat.

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