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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Harnessing Technology to Make Your Strengths Coaching Endure -- Gallup Called to Coach: Peter Baloh (S6E46)

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Dr. Peter Baloh, Chief Impact Architect at e2grow (a product licensed with Gallup) and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach based in Slovenia (in Southern Europe). He assists people in transforming their organizational cultures into thriving workplaces, which means embedding strengths into daily conversations and changing the mindsets of managers so they see their employees more as people rather than as “widgets.”






Below is a summary of the conversation. Full audio and video are posted above.

In all of my (Peter’s) career, I’ve been involved with bringing change into organizations. In some companies and teams, it was super frustrating; in others, it was great. Ten or 15 years ago, the enigma I faced was how to unlock the power of teams and of people. It became evident that whatever the vision was, it was about people.

I came across Gallup in 2014, and it became clear to me that there are workplace needs (Q12) that people need to have satisfied. And there is something called strengths that focuses on how people can thrive. And it became clear to me that this is the solution for the future.

So we started thinking about how we can bring this to the organization, and it was extremely important to me to know how to solve the problem of “stickiness” -- how can we ensure that whatever we bring into a company will endure? It is frustrating to have a workshop with a particular team, get them inspired at the moment, and then come back two weeks later and there’s no sign that the workshop ever happened. We found that CEOs and HR people are used to this kind of “flavor of the month” mentality, and we knew that we needed to embed this and make it stick.
We looked to solve this problem through strengths and engagement. It has to be a critical mass of people in the organization in order to make the change stick. 90% of the knowledge gained through training is lost in the first six months, and I think 50% is gone when people are leaving the room (where a workshop/time of training has been held).

In terms of my education (Ph.D.), I had the opportunity during my time as an academic to access the corporate world, and the best organizations, as a university professor. And I learned about corporations in this way.

In terms of “stickiness,” it’s like the difference between an event like a concert (easily forgotten after it’s over) and a process. And I (Jim) think you (Peter) have a passion for driving strengths beyond the first discovery session for impact. Let’s flesh that out a little more.

The event/process idea is a good metaphor. We (Peter and team) see strengths discovery or group sessions as just the first step in generating awareness and some of the buy-in for transformation. Then the real work starts; getting people excited is not enough. You can get excited, and even have really great plans, but that doesn’t guarantee change. The real work involves embedding strengths into the culture, and that means changing everyday behaviors -- routines. Around 70% of what we do in a day is routinized.  The real work is how to change these routines and make them efficient -- and doing this on an organization-wide scale.

Organizations will often do pilot studies with small groups of people but often that doesn’t result in lasting change. What has to happen is that this reaches critical mass and everyone in the organization needs to be involved and begin to use different language (about the workplace).

In terms of coaches reaching companies with the message of strengths, it involves making yourself relevant -- not telling them you’re a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and promising that you’ll solve their problems, because they’ve likely already invested millions of dollars into leadership training and initiatives. The relevance is in showing them that the change (that you want to bring with strengths) is actually the results they’re after. You make the connection with the business results in your “pitch” to the company.

Whatever issues a company has, all of them are connected to people issues. But you have to make the connection (between strengths and the people issues the company is experiencing). We have to commit to delivering tangible results that show change so companies start trusting us. Empowering people through strengths does change people’s mindset and leads to business results. But the work of changing the mindset and driving managers to believe in this is the hard work.

Does strengths have American overtones (for a person working in Europe, as Peter does)? No, not really. We coach managers on how to present this program and how to generate buy-in. So perhaps we get the question (about being too American) before people receive their reports, it doesn’t happen often and is not an issue.

Generating buy-in with corporations comes down to individual communication and one-on-one buy-in, and tying it to a workplace issue that the person (for example, the manager) wants to solve. And that’s a good question to ask even in the first meeting (either pitching something to a corporation or individual coaching): “What would you like to solve?” Then people start seeing the connection between their behaviors and the culture.

How do we keep things moving with corporations and make it sustainable, part of a person’s workflow? It starts with the critical mass -- having enough people involved in the program, so there are enough signals throughout the organization to show that this program is worthwhile. We have created a tech program (platform, e2grow) to help us in this. What are the milestones, what kinds of changes do we need to see over the next six or eight months? How can we increase the number of managers who show at least one or two of the new behaviors? Our platform helps us multiply the effectiveness of our work; it helps each of us work with about 30 coaches at the same time.

The e2grow tool helps with proactive communication. We’re trying to ensure that no one is left out. If you enroll in a fitness program, you want your trainer to be there for you every day. If you do training once a month, you won’t get much in the way of results. And this platform allows interactions a few times a week -- a semiautomated and manual process.
There is a dashboard that tells me (Peter) my latest coaching session and my next coaching session, and any team sessions scheduled. It tells me what my “coachees” have or have not done yet -- and so that helps give me suggestions about what I could do with them to keep the contact ongoing. As a coach, I need to deal with the complexity of working with dozens of coachees. The tool allows me to see each coachee’s Top 5, insights about that person, how to motivate that person, suggested tasks for that person that are steered toward a particular goal, sets coaching reminders and more.


I can send invitations via the tool to a team session; it helps me with administration such as creating materials, printing documents, and so on (NOTE: tool is demonstrated visually in the video and is licensed by Gallup with the most up-to-date info on strengths). A great amount of individualization is possible with the tool. There’s a plug-in to Outlook as well that gives individualized profiles of the person with whom you’re corresponding. It is compliant with current GPDR and ISO 27001 standards. The Gmail plug-in is about to be released, plus we have an add-in for Facebook.

Our end goal is to give organizations the capability, ultimately, to run the programs themselves. And that approach sets us apart from other approaches. The organization has to live with the changes they make and then probably do it again down the road (so our approach empowers them to do that).   

You can start using your CliftonStrengths today:



Dr. Peter Baloh started his career in management consulting with Deloitte and then moved to academia and became a tenured associate and published professor (he wrote 22 books) at several universities in Europe. Then at the age of 33, he moved to full-time executive positions as he was frustrated over not having enough impact through his academic job. It still felt as something was missing, so he took his family and moved from Slovenia to Australia, where he ended up in a boutique consulting team. His team leader -- to his fascination -- daily created a thriving environment in his fast-growing team. It was like a whole new world opened for him and he realized that is how one should feel -- and that changed his view on leadership and teams. It was like a miraculous revelation. 

After 2 years he and his family moved back to Europe and he started working with organizations and engagement. He realized the only certification Gallup can provide him with is that of Strengths Coach -- which opened a whole new world on what engagement really means. At that point in time, the search was over. Bringing thriving workplaces to the best companies is what he -- and now his growing e2grow team -- love doing and he couldn’t feel more content than he does now.

Dr. Peter Baloh’s Top 5 strengths are Achiever, Learner, Relator, Maximizer and Focus.

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