Anyone who has attempted to implement a risk management program knows it is a complex task. The complexity is for several reasons. First, the discipline of conscious and systematic consideration of risk is new to many people.
Secondly, for the risk management champion, implementation involves convincing individual decision-makers to learn new tools and skills. The risk manager must then support those decision-makers until they actually shift their mindset and risk management becomes second nature. It also requires sustaining momentum to repeat the teaching and support process until enough people in the organization have adopted the risk management habit to actually make it part of the organization's culture.
When you are trying to master something that is both new and complex, you don't do it on your own. If you do, it will take you longer, cost you more and result in more failures. By working with a mentor or coach, you can quickly fill in any gaps in your know-how.
People who are new to a risk management role, as well as seasoned risk professionals, can benefit from a coach. In the world of sports, elite amateur athletes and professional athletes all rely heavily on coaches and personal trainers. Even gifted and accomplished athletes like Tiger Woods use a coach.
The advantages that working with a coach can bring to anyone who wants to "up their game" in any aspect of their personal or business life are:
1. A coach provides an expert-level knowledge and skill that they transfer to you. For instance, my marketing coach knows more than I'd ever need to know about marketing. He is able to transfer bits of his knowledge to help me deal with my specific marketing needs. If you work with someone who's been there before to guide you on the path, you'll have a lot less trial and error, saving you time, effort and money.
2. Working with a coach brings a laser-like focus to an issue. Coaching sessions work best when they focus on a single issue. This enables the student to cut through the noise of his or her existence and zero-in on a solution--or at the very least decide on some concrete action that they can take to move them closer to their goal. This saves time and reinforces a discipline of focus.
3. A coach can help you to see yourself. It is a fact that we cannot see or hear ourselves. A coach can see what you miss and reflect it back to you. I understood the power of a coach's vision when I learned to golf. My golf pro videotaped my swing, then reviewed the video tape with me and showed me exactly what I was doing right and where I was going wrong. A coach can help you to see what you need to nurture in yourself as well as what you need to stop doing. This accelerates the learning process so that skill can be mastered faster.
4. A coach provides a source of ideas and potential alternative solutions. If you are stuck and your current repertoire of approaches isn't working, a coach can suggest a different perspective or idea that gets you past the mental logjam and back into a creative problem-solving mode. This saves you from wasting time spinning your wheels on approaches that aren't working.
5. A coach will challenge you to reach further. Most of us like to stay within our comfort zone. We set goals that are not too hard to achieve. A coach can see your potential, encourage you to stretch to reach it and hold your feet to the fire when you might want to stick with the status quo.
Anyone who has worked with a personal trainer knows that they immediately increased the intensity of their workouts. We will go the extra mile because our coach believes we can do it, even if we don't.
The result is a higher level of motivation and ultimately a higher level of achievement. A good coach knows this and will continue to gradually ratchet up the goals and expectations so that you continually improve: There's no coasting. You may only be able to crawl today, that's OK. Tomorrow, we'll try walking, then soon it will be running.
DIANA DEL BEL BELLUZ is a risk management expert who helps executives in large organizations to implement systematic and sustainable risk management practices.
June 1, 2008
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