HR and Senior Business Transformation Professional
Jeanine: Welcome listeners to the next coaching and leadership podcast. It's just Jeanine here, Marie is not with me today but I trust that she'll be back with us soon, she's still in the UK. However, who I do have with me is Jarek Michalski. Jarek is someone that I was very fortunate to meet many years ago in Qatar. I was part of a conference call, the How Women Work conference... Oh gosh it was many many years ago... and Jarek was one of the participants at the conference and it was through that that we met and it wasn't long after that that Jarek approached us to work with him, with Ooredoo who he was working with at the time, to collaborate in a number of projects that went on for many, many years. So I really enjoyed working with Jarek and very grateful for that experience. So I'm really pleased to bring Jarek on our podcast today and we've got a really interesting topic today which is supporting coaches in terms of how to work with organizations, how to be found, and how to respond etc etc. There'll be so much great information that Jarek will share with us today. So Jarek welcome to our podcast today.
Jarek: Good morning Jeanine nice to be with you.
Jeanine: Fantastic and you're in the UAE at the moment and I'm in Australia.
Jarek: I am in sunny UAE. It's almost the end of summer thank God, I was very much looking forward to the cooler weather but I'm also looking forward to having this conversation with you today because coaching is something that I feel passionate about both as a senior HR professional and also as an organisational leader. Because the more I can do to, I guess to assist coaches- existing coaches and aspiring coaches- to expand their influence on organizations and help them.
Jeanine: Yeah fantastic and again Jarek we really appreciate that you see the value, understand the value that coaches can bring to an organization external coaches can bring to an organization. And again we're very fortunate to work with you for a number of years so, delighted to have you on board. And for our listeners, if you could provide a little bit more background about your experience and where you're at, that would be appreciated.
Jarek: Sure, so I mean I've got a fairly eclectic career. I started my professional career actually as a military psychologist in the Australian army, more or less that was an organisational psychology role. So I did a variety of jobs there which essentially was about how to make the organization work better. That's what we focused on in day to day activities. After I left the military I moved into the corporate world into the space which I guess you would call organisational transformation. Again, I was heavily involved in making organizations work better and that's where I started applying the coaching skills and also using coaches in a corporate setting where profit became a point of consideration, or improving the organizations to make more profit became a point of consideration and that made me acutely aware of the importance of people who work in this space to be able to clearly articulate how they create value for organizations. So as you can appreciate running extensive coaching or large coaching programs can be expensive to organizations and they expect some kind of return on the investment, which means that as coaches we need to have a very clear understanding of how we do that, how do we create the value that creates a higher return on investment. After the organizational transformation this actually moved more into the mainstream HR world where I became a HR director in an economic development agency here in UAE. After that I moved to Qatar where I work in the HR Department for Ooredoo. That's where you and I met and Ooredoo is one of the largest Telcos in the Middle East. Following that I actually moved more into the startup world. So I was involved still in the Telco industry. I was actually involved in the large scale Telco startup in Myanmar which was a fantastic experience again, we were using coaches in a very different setting. The previous organizations that I was doing coaching and using coaches were established organizations. This one was actually a startup. So a very different environment and very different focus of the coaching was required. Right now, I work in a social digital transformation. So I work for one of the larger Oracle implementation houses here in UAE. You know, we're not a huge organization but we punch well above our weight. We actually are global award winner in the implementation space for Oracle from last year. So that's something we are very proud of. So more or less what I'm focusing on right now is digital transformation, and as you can appreciate digital transformation comes with a whole piece around change management in terms of how organizations actually need to adapt to new technology and so on. And again, I see a lot of opportunities for coaches to get involved in this piece of work as well, which I think at the moment is probably under serviced. And that's something perhaps we will address later on in our talk. In terms of qualifications like I said I started my life as an organizational psychologist for postgraduate qualifications in Organizational Psychology, a couple of masters as well one in management in the strategic H.R. and I also recently completed a Masters of innovation management at the London School of Economics. That's about it easily found on LinkedIn if somebody wants to connect with me feel free to reach out. So let's move into today's topic.
Jeanine: Yes. Thank you Jarek. What a great background and so much experience and not only in terms of what you've studied but also where you've worked. And again, really appreciate how you recognize the value of coaching and how coaching can support organizations to improve ROI, amongst other things in terms of the social and the psychology side of things as well in a business. So, Jarek, first of all what kind of information do you believe is… so for coaches that have been approached by an organization or are approaching organizations, what kind of information do you think is relevant for decision makers to understand about the coach that will support them to grab their attention or to actually get the work.
Jarek: So look it is just sort of what you measure, there are two different approaches I think, this is just my view: if you're being approached, somebody has already checked you out. So you've got the trust established. So I think that's a lot easier. But if you are approaching an organization, that’s a slightly different scenario. And you are not any different to any other vendor. So in other words, you would be expected to provide some credentials about who you are and at least provide some case studies of what kind of successes you have had in the past with other organizations and other players. And this is I guess one of the challenges for coaches who are entering the profession who haven't done a lot of coaching before establishing their own credibility. Generally speaking, people who have some professional experience in that background can create a story around that and how they were using coaching as part of their day to day management activities and so on. And the coaching being the extension of the professional skill set. But from a commercial side what the organization wants to see is, A) references B) obviously they wanted to see at least some indication of your cost structure and also how do you work. And finally they really do want to see what your value proposition is. I know I am using a little bit of jargon, but that that needs to be established in you. How do you create value and that needs to be articulated in whatever or however you are going to convey that message. Would it be in a presentation digital presence or just in introductory conversations? Having that very clearly articulated statement on how you create value through your work is very important.
Jeanine: Yeah and you're also touching on something else that I wanted to ask you about, which it was the digital presence and also as we spoke about before we came onto this podcast is that the importance of networking because I recall when I started out as a coach one of the first things that I did get involved in was this conference that was focused on women and work. And that's where I met you Jarek. So at that stage a fairly new coach, so that networking from my perspective is really important to support us as coaches if we want to get known out there. So l would love to hear your thoughts about that.
Jarek: Networking is paramount. And I can't emphasize it enough. One thing I would probably suggest is to be very cautious about what kind of networks you get involved in and what kind of conferences you attend. Attending coaching focused conferences is good because it introduces you to new methodologies, new skills and new trends. That's fantastic, but you also are there in competition with thousands of other coaches. One of the ways that I found very useful to drum up business for yourself is to attend industry specific conferences which occur out there all the time. And especially if you have got background in a particular industry. It's really helpful to attend those industries and just be present, start conversations with people, because the people are interested in in learning how other professions can support that industry. So, for example, a couple of years ago I went to a conference in Oman which was focusing on innovation in the oil and gas industry. And from there I got quite a few referrals for work by just connecting with people. You start engaging them in lunch breaks coffee breaks and so on and all of a sudden you get their attention and then you can essentially use your marketing spiel at that point of time about who you are and what you can offer people to remember that because you stand out in that conference. Because in a normal conference coaching conference you’re one of many. But in terms of networking, I just need to go back to how we got to know each other. It was exactly because of networking that you and I ended up working together. We met at the conference. Consequently, you also came highly recommended by another person who was attending the conference. So it was very easy to connect with you and meeting somebody in person, I think it's a means of establishing that trust relationship a lot quicker than just sort of sending in a proposal. So conferences and networking absolutely plays its part. Don't be afraid to… I guess this is the other point about networking, it's unusual that coaches will be hired as a single person. Generally speaking, especially to be targeting large organizations, they will want to hire an organization that is going to take care of their coaches and that will form the team and so on. It's just an easy way of managing your contract. So networking allows you to formulate your own little ecosystem where you can have a loose association of coaches who get combined together to put in for a larger bid, because that's a lot easier than just approaching an organization by yourself as “Mr. or Mrs. X and here I am as a coach”. It's just a lot more difficult to get work that way unless you come recommended, which is a different case.
Jeanine: Yeah. Thank you Jarek for sharing those insights. And it makes me realize actually it's taking me back to when we did meet and you asked me to get involved with a very large project and to also bring on board coaches in my network. And that was a great opportunity for me to connect with the people that I trusted and also to reach out to some more coaches which included Marie Quigley who’d just moved from the UAE to Qatar. So that is how we got together, so you know, you're a catalyst for making Empower World come to reality. So thank you for that, Jarek.
Jarek: Happy to be a part of it.
Jeanine: Both Marie and I thank you for that. So, really important to get out and about and to connect with the industry, the people that we want to potentially work with, it's really important. So Jarek, so if I was a coach or Empower World was asked to submit for a proposal for corporate work, how much time would you suggest that we should spend on requests for proposals for work? What's your insight?
Jarek: Look it's hard to estimate the proportion of your time, but it's a necessary part of your job to invest in putting in a proper response to RFP's. So there are a couple of things which will consume your time. One is actually searching out for the request for proposals. So please enroll yourself in whatever list you need to subscribe to in the country where you operate, just to be aware of RFP's which are being released onto the market. So you need to do the research to see where the RFP's are. A lot of RFP's also come through networks, and so again this is why networks are very important. Generally speaking, people who will be looking at your RFP responses will not be H.R. professionals or may not actually know what you do as a coach. So that's why it's important to invest, at least initially, in making sure that your presentations or your response papers that you're going to be sending are at a professional level. And what I mean by that is that they are properly formatted and have all the information that is required in the RFP's. Generally speaking, RFP's are written by, what I would call, patterns. So they essentially give you a thousand items that you need to cover and you're expected to cover it. And if you don't cover you will be rejected very quickly. So if I was a guessing person, probably most people should be prepared to invest 25 to 30 percent of the time just responding to bids so they can get the work which matters, which is doing the coaching. Or if you've got if you're running a coaching agency where you are actually managing the coaches, that part might even take a little bit longer. So up to 50 percent just responding to RFP’s and looking for business. I don't know if that answers that question but hopefully that gives sort of gives you some flavor. But you know in the responses themselves, like I said, I would just emphasize the point: it’s important to very quickly get to the point of who you are, how do you create value, the financials. Think about it very carefully as well. A lot of people commit two mistakes this is just my experience in responding to RFP's. A) That they go too low thinking that they will get some additional business later on and that's how they recover the money. Often that does not materialize. You don't want to sponsor somebody else's projects. So put in the bid that you think is fair for you to make an ok living or an ok profit on that particular piece of work. But don't undersell yourself, because going low essentially just destroys the value of the market. It is not a commodity that you're selling. And the second part which people make a mistake on is going to high. The reality of life is that the coaching profession has been growing quite fast which means that the competition is out there and people will not necessarily pay the amount that early coaches used to get in the past. I've noticed that in general consulting fees have decreased quite considerably and you have to be prepared for that. So if it means that coaching itself does not provide the necessary rewards that you look for, then start looking at how you can create sidelines to the business. But using the coaching as the primary vehicle for getting your foot in the door.
Jeanine: Yeah. Great advice. And yes it is tricky, With the request for proposals in terms of the financial side of things where to pitch I guess the monetary side of things. As you say, in an increasingly competitive market. and totally agree with you to don't undersell, but also be aware of pitching too high. Of course I appreciate that it is tricky to understand where that level exists for ourselves and a lot of it, I guess for Marie and I, it's been trial and error and getting used to over the years, what clients are prepared to pay and to be prepared to walk away from work where perhaps a potential client is undervaluing what we bring. So yeah, it can be challenging.
Jarek: It can be a but at the same time most organizations will respond to you and say what kind of budget have you got. Whether it's a formal approach or informal. Then you can make an assessment whether they just want to get involved in this particular enterprise.
Jeanine: Yes, totally agree with you and I think on top of that you know because there are organizations that will approach us, who are wanting a quote and are not prepared to meet us. And I believe that it is really important to meet a client when you are submitting a request for a proposal, or at least have a telephone conversation .
Jarek: Absolutely, push for it as hard as you can because it's… I will use the word ‘trust’ again. Coaching relationships are about trust, and it's really difficult to establish trust through a quote. So meeting somebody face to face, especially the decision makers, is critical if you can achieve it. If it's just about a quote, then straight away it says to me that they trying to judge you as a commodity. And it's probably not something you want to get involved in. I mean, that's just my opinion.
Jeanine: Yeah and ours as well I believe. You know, our work is all about building relationships, building that trust and connection, to be able to really do powerful work that is all about supporting people. So that would be our stand and Empower World's stand: meet your client. And also knowing that it can be again challenging but at least there's a phone call that can support.
Jarek: Yeah, some sort of a human contact.
Jeanine: Yeah. So Jarek, as we start to wrap up this conversation which has been really insightful I just want to check in with you if there's anything else that you would recommend or any other insights for our listeners for coaches that are working in the corporate space who are wanting to get work to be seen to be noticed?
Jarek: Look it's something that I also feel very passionate about. Your digital presence is incredibly important. Nowadays, the companies don't necessarily source coaches just from the immediate environment. It is a global business. You have delivered, I have delivered work to clients remotely through Skype and Zoom and whatever technology want to do, so your geographical reach has expanded considerably with the new technology. What I'm referring to the digital presence is that you need to be found. Some of your work, probably a lot of work, will be done through networks. Yes. But at the same time companies will use your digital presence for two purposes, not only to find you in the first place. You need to think about how you want to position yourself in that. But also to check you out. So some networks such as LinkedIn and so on… that is your business card nowadays. Most people do usually include their LinkedIn profile address on their business card nowadays, because that is the first place people will go to check you out. If you don't have a presence there, you make it a lot harder for organizations to decide whether they want to work with you or not. In that sort of vein, be very sort of cautious about what kind of information you put out there because it is very easily found.
So your professional presence needs to be highly polished. I don't mean investing hundreds of dollars, or thousands of dollars in having a professional picture done. But what I mean is have some thoughtful content in your digital presence vehicles, be it your own Website or LinkedIn or whatever, or Facebook even is still an active platform that you can get business from. Have some content that actually directly points to what kind of work you do and how you create value. Reposting other people’s stuff is useful because it indicates that you are reading development stories, but having your original content that actually demonstrates your own models and how you create value or your industry knowledge is also very important. So I would encourage everybody to invest a bit of time in doing that. It's just pure marketing and that's just part of doing business. So if you don't market yourself, it's going to be very difficult to find you. And it's also going to be very difficult for organizations to make an assessment whether they want to work with you. So I guess that would be that the point that I’d like to finish up with today.
Jeanine: Yeah and again I really appreciate that insight. I must admit in recent years, I've got a LinkedIn profile myself, Empower world has as well and it's something that we're starting to put more emphasis on because, as you say, it's something people are really noticing.
Jarek: And look, I guess it's just one little point. A lot of coaches like us; we come from a diverse range of industries. Each of those industries have their specialist publications. With their online journals or paper journals and so on and those guys are actually looking for content all the time. Stories about how you as an ex industry person are using your professional expertise in coaching, especially in that industry- how to improve their business in that particular industry… it's actually attractive to them. So don't be afraid to market yourself in nontraditional ways to where coaches would advertise. Using industry magazines is also a good way of drumming up business because that's something that all of a sudden “you’ve got credibility because you come from my industry and you do coaching therefore you know you can help me with running my business better. Yep let's contact you”. It is a very effective way of marketing yourself so doesn’t be afraid to use that avenue as well.
Jeanine: Yeah. Brilliant thank you Jarek. It is wonderful to get your perspective as a corporate HR perspective about how coaches can support themselves to get found and get the work that is so important to support organizations and the teams. So yeah, I really appreciate your insights.
Jarek: Not a problem. It's been a pleasure to talk to you today and you know like I said feel free for the audience, feel free to reach out to me if you'd like to ask any more specific questions or pass it through Marie or Jeanine and I'll be more than happy to elaborate on some stuff I’ve said.
Jeanine: Yes. Thank you Jarek. Really appreciate your generosity and as someone who I've been privileged enough to work with. Yes, feel free to reach out to Jarek. I know that he is very generous and a very wise person to connect with. So thank you Jarek, and look forward to staying connected and let's bring you on again in the future.
Jarek: I hope so. Thank you.
Jeanine: Yeah. So listeners I hope you enjoyed this podcast and stay tuned for future podcasts coming your way. Thanks for listening.