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If you are a winery manager you likely have an exciting and complex job with vineyard operations, finance, marketing, customer service, sales, human resources, shipping, IT and more all vying for your urgent attention every day! Living that dream can be incredibly exhilarating! What’s it like these days? Dealing with the effects of a global pandemic are amplifying the usual challenges that may have previously been part of that exhilaration. Now, leaders are being called upon more than ever to not only keep the business afloat in these times of crisis but also lookout for the crew’s wellbeing. It can get lonely at the top, which is just one of the reasons why research has proven that every leader needs a coach.

What is a Coach and What does Coaching look like in a Winery?

A coach is a trusted, objective partner working for you and alongside you to help you reach your goals and become the best version of yourself. Coaching can take many forms in a winery setting, depending on the focus, desired outcomes, and the number of participants. A winery could hire a leadership coach for its GM or for the key leaders individually to help them develop leadership skills or work through challenging situations. That coach could also conduct team coaching sessions with a group of staff to help them build team cohesion, optimize processes, improve communication, or even brainstorm new solutions to customer service challenges.

Leadership research by Gallup found that managers have 70 percent influence over the climate of their team, and 60 percent of employees who left their job said the manager was the reason. Another study found that turnover has cost organizations $223 billion (Blessing White, 2018). If employee morale and retention are issues of concern at your winery, coaching your management team may be just what it takes to turn things around.

Does Coaching Really Work?

In a word, yes.
Take a look at this series of findings that Psychology Today recently published confirming that coaching is indeed effective:

  • Ninety-eight percent of coaching clients said their coach “provided practical, realistic, and immediately usable input” and helped them “identify specific behaviors that would help me achieve my goals.” (Center for Creative Leadership study, 2016)
  • Strengths are maximized, and research has shown that 66 percent of those receiving effective coaching report a positive impact on their performance and job satisfaction. (BlessingWhite Consulting, 2015)
  • Nearly two‐thirds who received coaching said it had a significant impact on their performance and job satisfaction. (BlessingWhite Consulting, 2015)
  • 88 percent of managers said coaching helps them achieve their goals. (BlessingWhite Consulting, 2015)
  • A 2013 study by Anthony Grant found that executives who received coaching experienced effects that transferred over into the executives’ family life, including heightened work-life balance and improved relationships with family members.
  • All signs indicate that executive coaching is a sound investment. Studies report an impressive ROI of 500-800 percent. A study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC, for example, reported an ROI of 689 percent associated with executive coaching (and this finding accounted for the entire cost of coaching, including the opportunity costs associated with the time leaders spent not on the job in coaching sessions).
  • Citing similar results, the International Coach Federation (ICF) has presented a body of research demonstrating that coaching tends to generate an ROI of between $4 and $8 for every dollar invested. (Greiner, 2018)

In a winery or other corporate setting, there are many more reasons to consider engaging a coach. Aside from the proof cited above that it works, here are a few more, again based on research presented in Psychology Today:

We don’t know what we don’t know – a coach can provide an objective perspective and help identify our blind spots. Coaches also use stakeholder feedback and 360-degree assessments to identify gaps between our perceptions of how great a job we think we’re doing, and the reality as perceived by our subordinates or superiors. Research shows that we all tend to believe we’re performing at a higher level than we actually are.

Is useful feedback getting through? – The higher up you reside on the org chart, the less likely it’ll be that you receive tough and direct feedback, ie the kind that helps you improve and grow. Your subordinates may not be comfortable or even skilled at offering that type of feedback to “the boss” for many different reasons. A coach is there to give you the goods and help you grow, even if it requires uncomfortable conversations.

Managing constant change – not only now, but even in “normal” times change is constant and so is our natural resistance to it. A coach can support a leader and a team to manage through change and encourage behaviour changes to improve individual or team performance.

Identifying and shutting down distractions – aka FOCUS! With the frenetic and intense pace of work as a winery manager and the multiple demands constantly pulling leaders in different directions, it’s so easy to get distracted. Effective coaching can help a winery manager identify and prioritize those items that belong in the “urgent/important” quadrant and develop techniques to stay focused on the things that truly matter.

Kick the negativity bias – under pressure, as a defense mechanism, we default to asking what’s wrong or what could go wrong rather than asking what’s right. It takes decisive effort and focus to embrace a strengths-based mentality. A coach can help a leader identify their strengths, tap into them more effectively and also help them focus on the strengths of their team rather than only identifying mistakes and shortcomings (which is always so highly demoralizing!).

Coaching, pass it on… – today a coaching style of leadership, as opposed to a more dictatorial style, (so passé…) is proven to be more effective in developing an engaged team. A coach can help a leader become a coach to his or her own team. Your team will feel valued, trusted and encouraged to share ideas and solutions, which after all, is exactly what you want from the good people you’ve hired!

Developing human connection with your team – the intense demands on leaders to produce tangible results can put pressure and stress on the leader which get in the way of maintaining the type of connection, recognition and human relationships their team needs. A coach can help a leader focus on delivering the results without compromising the personal connections that keep the team motivated and engaged. This impacts directly the quality of customer service your guests will receive.

Time-out! Let’s think this through – the frenetic, adrenaline-charged pace of the workday can feel almost addictive! Leaders are accustomed to thinking on their feet, working under pressure, making rapid often instinctive decisions and on to the next crisis! In hospitality, during the season, that’s the reality – and likely part of the fun! We know that those high levels of adrenalin in the body are not healthy nor sustainable in the long term. The actual purpose of an adrenalin spike is to help propel us through the fight/flight/freeze moments in which we find ourselves in moments of crisis. A coach can help a leader slow things down and take a more reflective, analytical approach to situations. This results in higher-quality decision-making as well as better ideas and solutions which are based on facts and more careful consideration. Taking more time to reflect can help develop a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.
Coaching is possibly the most practical and effective way for leaders and managers to work through the demands of their complex roles while providing motivation and enlightened leadership for the teams that follow them.

If “to coach or not to coach” is the question… contact us for the answer!