Giving Bad News: 9 Tips

Fred Kusch

Fred Kusch

Whether you’re a doctor, a mom, a business owner or a corporate leader, bad news is always hard – especially when you’re the one who has to break that bad news. But handling bad news can be less painful if you follow a few key tips, including preparing yourself, seeking support and writing down what you need to say.

Our guest blog comes from Fred Kusch, The Growth Coach of La Crosse, who shared nine great ideas and tips for how to get through breaking bad news as easily as possible for everyone involved. Fred provides expert, practical counsel to organizations and audiences around the globe. He offers big-picture views of how to build morale and teams, develop people and leaders and enhance life and work.  Fred was named Coach of the year in 2012 by The Growth Coach and you can learn more about him here:

Giving Bad News

It happens every day, from negative performance reviews, to massive employee layoffs to budget cuts, bad news is almost a daily phenomenon across all industries and sectors. Unfortunately, the delivery of bad news remains one of the most difficult tasks facing leaders, moreover it is often caused by emotional reactions or undeveloped skill sets.

Sometime in your career you will be faced with delivering bad news. When you are put in this circumstance, consider these nine ideas. They may very well help you as you confront the inevitable challenges.

1. Be Prepared: Unlike a good Boy Scout, most leaders tend to stumble in this first step. Because our tendency is to avoid or to put off the task, this step is tough. However, when it has been determined that bad news must be delivered, managers have to work to compartmentalize emotions and prepare themselves with the skills needed to deliver bad news in the best and most humane manner possible.

2. Send out “smoke signals”: Like Native Americans once did, today’s bad news messengers have to provide advance warning that bad news is coming. Too often leaders give lip service to transparency and therefore when it’s really needed, they are not believed.  However, transparency and periodic updates on sensitive matters help signal the possibility of bad news. Cardinal Rule: Bad news should never come as a surprise.

Read the rest on Fred’s blog here:



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Starting Your Day Off Right: 5 Tips

UpEarlyMornings are important. Whether or not you’re a morning person, waking up on the right side of the bed and getting off to a great start definitely shapes your day. And, with the exception of things like getting a flat tire on the way to work, having a great day often starts usually starts with you. There are a slew of articles out there about what successful do, especially in the morning. We thought we’d share a few of our favorite things we know successful people do with a Growth Coach twist…

Wake Up Early: Waking up early is an important thing for successful people. Time is just too precious to spend your morning in bed hitting the snooze button. If you’re not a morning person, the next item on the list might help…

Get Moving: Before your day starts, get your exercise in. This is really two-fold because it not only gets your blood moving and helps you get moving, but it also frees up that time later in your day. If you find yourself unmotivated, try laying out your workout clothes the night before so it’s ready to go. Or look for someone you enjoy more than going to the gym – with all of the variety of exercise videos and games out there, there’s bound to be something you can bring yourself to try.

Tackle an Important Task: After you’ve gone for that morning run and enjoyed a healthy breakfast, tackle an important task. Whether it’s professional or personal, there’s bound to a pending job that’s been weighing on your mind. Now that you’re awake and ready to take on the world, that task might look a bit less daunting and, if you’re able to finish it, will take some of the stress out of your day.

Connect with Family: Mornings can be hectic, but if you’re able to spend a little time reconnecting with your spouse or eating breakfast with your family, you should. With after-school activities, work meetings, grocery shopping, chores and errands, finding those few moments can be tough some days. Spending that morning time to spend with the people you love can help you start the day with a smile.

Create a Plan: Whether it’s for the day or for the week, creating a strategy, plan or to-do list for how to spend your time can make a real difference in your day. In our workshops, we ask people to create 90 day goals. While those goals are important to work toward, it all starts with small, daily or weekly steps. Before you start work tomorrow, sit down and think about what you want to accomplish, what you absolutely need to get done for the day and what tasks you might be able to delegate or complete on a less busy week. Having a plan will help you stay on task and be more productive.

If you’re having trouble taking on any of these morning tasks, maybe it’s time to talk to your local Growth Coach. Whether you’re interested in group workshops or individual training, our Strategic Mindset Process can help you win your days back while being a successful at work. Request your free consultation here:

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Sales Mapping to Improve Your Business

George Maabadi

George Maabadi

At The Growth Coach, we talk a lot about systems. We educate our clients on how having strong business systems creates a company that can run without the owner and builds a more valuable business asset. What some may not know is that having systems for SALES is important too!

Every sales person has an individual sales style, but every company still has a general sales process each person is meant to follow. But are you sure your sales people are following that process or system? Have you even defined what that system should be? The Growth Coach has recently developed a new sales mapping tool our individual franchise owners can use to help clients create a sales process to help improve selling, communication and employee management.

This week’s blog features a post written by George Maabadi, The Growth Coach in San Diego , CA. George’s passion is to help business owners, managers, and self-employed professionals develop and execute a proven, process-driven plan- a plan with a personalized strategy that will make a huge difference between significant success and disappointing or even devastating failure and a plan that includes a balance between business and personal life. George has been coaching and mentoring individuals and channel partners for over thirty years; spending most of his career in sales and marketing.

See George’s blog post:

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Spring Cleaning Challenge: Declutter Your Business

ClutterSpring is officially underway and that means it time to do a little spring cleaning in your business. We’re not talking about breaking out the mop and bucket – we’re talking about looking at your business and cleaning out the clutter. Take a few minutes to think about your business. What junk is clogging up the flow of your business? What useless clutter is keeping you from being as effective as you could be?

But before we can do any cleaning, what is clutter? Are we talking about the coats and snow boots that have made their home in your entryway? Or the piles of papers you have sitting on your desk? At The Growth Coach, we see clutter as the trivial and unimportant tasks we embark on each and every day. It’s all those things that scream for your attention and keep you from thinking strategically. Clutter defines all the low-value jobs that an owner and business leader should be delegating to someone else.

Look at your day and think about where you’re spending your time. What is YOUR clutter? Here’s some of the common clutter we come across at The Growth Coach: excessively checking emails, playing on your smart phone, doing hourly administrative types of tasks, doing other people’s jobs, solving the problems other created, doing mindless trips or chores, surfing the web, roaming the office and spending the day putting out fires. Are these tasks helping you achieve your goals? Or are they just habits that are cluttering your days and your business?

Here’s a Spring Cleaning Challenge for you – Embrace the 80/20 reality.

Did you know that 80 percent of your results come from only 20 percent of your talents and activities? That means 80 percent of the things you do every day qualifies as clutter. You’re wasting your time, energy, talents and money. Stop spending your time on the wrong kind of work! If you delegated those unimportant, non-owner tasks, you could focus your time on strategic opportunities like leading, marketing, selling, systematizing, planning and more. And it would certainly give you more time to spend with your family!

Once a month, spend 15 minutes writing down all the clutter in your professional and personal life. What is wasting your time and talents? What work should you NOT be doing? What diversions are keeping you from being your most productive? Look honestly at that list and accept the truth. If you were to eliminate that clutter, what could you accomplish? How successful could you and your business be?

When you’ve identified the clutter you can eliminate, create yourself a “not-to-do list.” There will be tasks on that list that need completed, but you shouldn’t wear every hat in your business. Delete those tasks or delegate them to others. If that’s not possible, at least commit to spending less time on those tasks.

If you find that you’re having trouble letting go, delegating tasks and figuring out which tasks are VITAL to your business, it’s time to set up a free consultation with your local Growth Coach. Spring cleaning is the perfect way to set you up for a more successful 2014.

Find a coach here:

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Find Focus and Finish What You Start

FOCUSMaybe we can blame smart phones or the constant connectivity of social media, but our lives are even more full of distractions than they were five years ago. In fact, for many, being incredibly busy is almost a badge of honor.

But being that busy doesn’t mean you need to also create work for yourself – stop chasing the newest fad and bouncing between ideas. Focus instead on finishing tasks, projects or goals you’ve already started! Chasing the newest shiny thing can be disastrous for business owners. Even when you’re swamped, having set strategies and goals keeps your employees on track and helps your customers connect with you. If you’re constantly in a frantic state of distraction, it can be extremely unsettling for your staff and your clients.

Take a minute to slow down and think about it. Being an early adopter can work in your benefit in many arenas, but you have to be dedicated to certain goals. Continuously chasing a moving target is frustrating and it keeps you from pursuing solid, existing ideas, projects and strategies. Consider your best options, make strong commitments and give those projects the focus and implementation strategies they need to be successful.

This doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and search for new ideas – it’s just that you need to ensure you can maintain the necessary balance between stability and change. Make sure you have fully implemented those older, great ideas before pursuing something new. Without full and aggressive implementation, you don’t get full results.  Finish what you start.


Of course this doesn’t only happen with your business – chasing the next thing (big OR small) also happens at home and in life. When was the last time you sat down and watched a movie on television without channel flipping? How old was your last phone when you upgraded? Maybe inside and outside of the office, we’re all just too easily bored.

This week, challenge yourself. Don’t start anything new until you’ve completed the previous task. Stop dreaming about the new iPhone and focus on what you need to accomplish today. And, most importantly, stop looking for a quick fix and instead look for ways you can implement lasting improvements in your business and your life that can be implemented over time. If you find that you have trouble finding focus or making firm decisions on worthwhile business improvements, it’s time to talk to a Growth Coach. Our accountability-based programs have a proven track-record of helping business owners and leader find greater success AND balance. Find a coach:


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Featured Blog: Strategic Business Owner DOs and DON’Ts

At The Growth Coach, we work to help people improve their business, find more success and balance their lives, but most of it essentially comes down to one major thing: the strategic mindset. Embracing a strategic mindset can be a difficult task, especially for small business owners who are continuously wrapped-up in the technical elements of the business. But stepping back and working ON your business instead of IN your business is vital to your success now and to your ability value and sell your business, or pass it on to a family member, later.

So what does a strategic business owner or a strategic leader look like? Glenn Smith, the Growth Coach of Houston, posted a wonderful blog earlier this week giving a run-down about what strategic business owners do and, maybe more importantly, what they do NOT do. Some highlights from the to-do list include working smarter, leveraging the talents of your team and developing business plans and systems. Some of the not-to-do items are things like being a micromanager, working too much in the technical part of the business and having a jack-of-all-trades outlook.

Check out Glenn Smith’s blog for his full run-down – and to see what changes you can make for lasting improvements:

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Improve Your Business by Creating and Embracing Synergy

SynergySynergy. If you’re in business, it’s a word that has great meaning and huge potential positive impact. To have synergy means that two or more people are working together to the mutual benefit of both. Simply, it means you’re clicking with the people you’re working with. You’re in a groove together.

Everyone knows what it’s like to have synergy. You’re working on a project with someone or a group of people, you’re feeding off each other’s ideas and insights, you’re getting some serious work accomplished and – usually – it’s exciting and you have a great time. Here’s a good example: The Growth Coach just held the company’s annual national conference and, especially between the sessions when the coaches had a chance to chat, the synergy was amazing. We had coaches sharing ideas and best practices, veteran coaches working through issues with new coaches, newer coaches sharing some new ideas that have worked well… The synergy was outstanding.

Of course a meeting of the minds doesn’t have to happen just at a national conference. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting together with a few fellow chamber members for breakfast or having lunch with a mentor. Let’s face it, we’re all overwhelmed and over-worked and, if you’re a business owner, everything that goes on in that business is close to your heart. It can be difficult to make solid decisions, especially big decisions, without the insight of other people who understand your challenges.

Step back and take a look at the business people in your network. Who do you click with? Who do you enjoy meeting for lunch? Could two or three of you get together to talk about business development? Could their leadership experience help you make that big staff decision? Would your accounting background help them figure out which direction to take their bookkeeping?

No matter where you live or what community you serve, growth and development is vital to a healthy business. Rather than wait until your business feels stagnant and you’re low on inspiration, set up a standing lunch meeting with some of the people in that close network and see what you can accomplish by sharing and discussing ideas!

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Learning to Break the Chains and Love Your Business Again

HeartBizWhen you first open a new business, you’re passionate and excited. You have plans for what you’re going to sell, how you’re going to attract customers and how you’re going to grow the company for the first couple of years. But for all too many business owners, working six days a weeks and barely getting by quickly starts to feel like handcuffs. If you’ve fallen into that trap, it’s time to break the chains and learn to love your business again!

Here are a few tips to help you think – and act – like a CEO, which will help you take the first step toward OWNING a business instead of RUNNING a business.

Create Business Systems

Are you feeling out of control when you’re working in your business? Take a step back and consider whether or not you have adequate business systems in place. Business systems are an important part of creating a business that runs effectively. Many owners don’t know how to put together or re-create business systems. Operating a business without systems can easily make you feel trapped. Focus on ways to organize and delegate jobs within the business and get yourself out of the daily operations. Be a CEO instead of a Chief Everything Officer.

Be a Better Leader

Many business owners mistake leadership for doer-ship. Being a great leader does NOT mean being involved in every element of your business and micromanaging. You have to hire solid employees and trust them to do a great job. You can’t be a lone wolf and a great leader. Act like a business owner and use those newly created or retooled business systems to delegate and trusts others to help run your business.


Of course not all the jobs within your business can be delegated. There are certain things you want to do yourself. But remember that just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re actually accomplishing anything. You need to focus on working smarter rather than harder. Consider what you’re spending you’re time on and decide which tasks best deserve your energy.

Embrace Growing Complexities

As your business grows, so do the everyday demands. Things get more complex and complicated. Without strong leadership skills and business systems, these growing changes can be very stressful. Although this is part of any business’ general growing pains. The best solution for owners is to plan for growth and understand the evolving nature of your business.

Technical Tendencies

Even if you have all your business systems and leadership skills up and running in full force, you could still be setting yourself back by being too much of a technician. Most small business owners are former technicians and going from technician to entrepreneur can be tough. Break out of your comfort zone, leave the daily technical operations to your staff and spend your time being a CEO.

If these five tips don’t help you break the chains and feel less imprisoned by your business, then it’s time to consider working with one of our Growth Coaches. Set up a free consultation now:

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The Power of Referrals and Recommendations – and How to Ask for Them

thumbs upIn any business, a solid referral usually means additional customers and subsequent growth. It’s the snowball effect of a great service experience! Of course that’s only true if the customer who had the great experience does one or both of two things: refers someone who would benefit from your company and tells others about the great experience they had.

So where do you start? The answer: With a simple question. If someone has a great experience with your business, be willing to ask if they know someone who could benefit from your services. Or, with the continually growing popular of LinkedIn among business professionals, ask for an online recommendation!

Here’s how to get started…

Once your services have been provided to the customer or client, make a short follow-up call. Ask them if the service they received from you was what they expected and how satisfied the experience left them. If the answer is positive, it’s time to ask if they know someone else who might be interested in hiring your business. Explain the importance of referrals, but make sure the client doesn’t feel pressured or uncomfortable.

Another great way to grow your business through satisfied customers is to ask for an online recommendation. There are websites everywhere for reviews and comments, but if you want something a little more personal, ask your satisfied customer to recommend you on LinkedIn. Recommendations on LinkedIn are directly tied to a person’s profile and often seen by that person’s professional and personal connections. If the person you’ve done business with is satisfied and on LinkedIn, go ahead and ask to connect through the LinkedIn search. From there you can network with that client and send a request for a recommendation. Individuals, business and services can all be recommended on LinkedIn, so make sure your request is specific and personal. And remember – you have final approval about which recommendations go up. This is an especially great way to find new customers and build online credibility, especially with the business professional crowd.

Here are some additional ways you can ask for a referral or a recommendation:

  • Make sure your LinkedIn profile is entirely completed and then place your personal link on your business cards and website with a quick message such as: “If you were satisfied with our services, please recommend us on LinkedIn.”
  • Add a line to your invoices asking for referrals or recommendations.
  •  Include “PS: If you know someone who could benefit from our services, please let us know!” to your customer letters.
  • Update your signature line in your email to ask for referrals or recommendations.

Once you have a referral or recommendation, consider sending your client with a thank you card and maybe include a gift such as cash rewards, gift cards or free additional services. Your thank you doesn’t have to be of monetary value, but it’s important to show your appreciation!

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Resolution for 2014: Making Lasting Business Improvements

ResolutionAre you the resolution type? With 2014 freshly upon us, have you made commitments to make this year better than the last? And are you going to stick to those resolutions this year or will they be abandoned by spring?

All too often, making resolutions is easier said than done, but The Growth Coach would like to offer up a resolution challenge this year for those willing to step up: rather than focusing on something like losing weight or eating better, commit to making lasting improvements in your business. It’s a new year, which means it’s the perfect time to start writing a new chapter in your life.

Let’s get started:

- Looking back at 2013, what didn’t work? And just as importantly, what DID work and how can you capitalize on the success?

– If someone were to buy your business, what would their concerns be? Do you share those same concerns? How do you fix it?

– When something goes wrong with your business, do you take responsibility or do you make excuses and place blame elsewhere?

– Are there any decisions you’ve put off making that you can move forward in the first quarter of this year?

– If you want to improve your business, you have to improve yourself. When was the last time you invested in professional development for you or your staff?

Depending on how you answered each of those questions, you should have a great starting point for making improvements for 2014. But our resolution challenge is about more than finding success, it’s also about learning to balance business and life. As you move toward greater business stability, make sure you set aside quality time to spend with your family and friends and to do the things you love outside of work! Being a successful business owner is about more than having a profitable company – it’s also about having a balanced and happy life.

If you have any challenges keeping to this resolution – or finding a ways to meet the challenges – reach out to your local Growth Coach for a free consultation:

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