Power Tools

Introduction to Power Tools

The ICA Power Tools™ are famous worlds over. Created 10 years ago, they are designed to support clients in the discovery of perspective and the role it plays in achieving results. Only available and taught at International Coach Academy it represents a unique way in assisting a client.

Each Power Tool starts with a specific experience the coach or somebody else had and the description of events that lead to a specific outcome. The Power Tool is usually given a name. In my case the Power Tool is named Expectations vs. reality.

It helps the client reframe a perspective he/she has and assist the client to identify disempowering perspectives. In the process of using the Power Tool helps the client shift from a disempowering perspective to an empowering perspective.

The client is encouraged to reframe a perspective and identify those that are disempowering. The coach helps the client shift from a disempowering perspective to an empowering perspective.

There are many existing an even more of those that have not been defined yet. The Power Tool is usually developed around an experience that shows how the shift occurs. I developed my Power Tool around an experience I had. This Power Tool can be used with the client in a similar situation, but also in a number of situations client can find him/herself in. You can see that when you review this Power Tool.

My Power Tool: Expectation vs. reality

Background/the story:
As President of Philips Display Components, a division of Philips I was given an assignment by the new Managing director of the business group Display Components. He was also my new boss who prior to that was running Display Components in Europe and was as such my colleague. He and I never had a good relationship and when he became my boss I did not want to continue in my position. He insisted that I stay, as I in his own words was much more knowledgeable about the display components business in particular the technology behind it. He told me he needed me to stay for a least six months. I agreed to do so under the condition that he help me find another position in Philips. He committed to do so.

The first assignment I got was to reduce the fixed cost in our company. This meant that we needed to reduce the number of people employed as the fixed cost is mainly dictated by the salaries our people both in the headquarters and in the factory were paid. This did not include the hourly personnel as their compensation was contractually determined.

Once I accepted this assignment I decided to first assess the processes we need to run the business and after that select the people who best fit those processes and lay off those that did not. We hired consultants to help us with that and I also added to the project group two individuals from Philips who reported to my boss as well. I thought by doing so they will be able to help us with our boss once we start working on the project.

It took us approximately four months to complete the project and make the assessment as to how many people we needed both in the headquarters and in the factory to fully support the business. We also assessed which people would best fit into those jobs and were ready to report to my boss. As a result of this evaluation we determined that approximately 18% of our employees will have to be laid off.

I went to Europe to report to my boss about the results. One of the US consultants as well as the two individuals from Philips accompanied me to the meeting where I was to report to my boss about the findings.

When I entered my boss’s office and started reporting I felt very uncomfortable. My boss was not listening, he was writing something and he did not seemed interested in what I had to say. Once I completed my report he said to me: “I am not interested at all about your findings, I just want you to lay off 20% of the people that represent your fixed cost. Your project did not come up with 20% but only 18% and this is not enough.

I could not believe my ears! “Cutting more people would cut into the meat of the organization and we would not be able to accomplish all the work we have to do” I told my boss. He responded “I do not care about that, just do what I told you to do!”

I was expecting that my boss would be happy with how we approached the assignment. He never told me that I have to lay of 20% of all the people who are part of the fixed cost. My blood started boiling. I told him, I will not do that and he will have to do it himself. His response was “I will and you will have to leave!” I could not believe my ears, but this was obviously what he wanted to accomplish any way. He could not fire me and was just looking for an opportunity for me to say something that would allow him to take the action he wanted to take any way.

My expectation did not match the reality that I experienced. I thought a lot about what I could have done differently that would have prevented him to take the action he took. There are a number of things that come to mind:

  1. While we were working on the project I should have kept him informed as we went along and not waited for the last moment and make the presentation without knowing what his expectations were. Instead during those four months I relied on the two individuals who also reported to him to keep him abreast of the status of the project. Instead I should have given him a call regularly to inform him as to what the status was.
  2. I could have simply said that I would like to sleep over the matter and come back the next day to talk more and see how we can find a solution that he and I could agree upon.
  3. I could have accepted his demand and implemented it. This would have been the worst of all, as I was sure that I would not be able to run the business with good results.

In other words, the expectations did not match the reality!

This experience gives me the opportunity to understand my clients who find themselves in similar situations. I believe I have sensitivity to create awareness with my clients that they may not have a realistic take on their situation or that they will benefit from reassessing their reality.

How can this tool be helpful to my clients I coach?

This is something that happens every day in corporate America and executives get fired because they did not take into account all the possibilities that might happen.

If I had a client that was experiencing a similar situation I would ask him/her questions such as:

  • “How are you going about the project you are working on?”
  • “Are you keeping your boss informed about the progress on the project as you go along?”

This would allow my client to get an insight into the expectations of his/her boss. I would continue coaching him/her to help him/her come to the right conclusions as to how to proceed with the project.

Depending on the situation, the type of project my client is working on I will listen to what he/she has to say so I can ask the best questions possible and help the client to come to the most suitable/appropriate conclusions.

I believe that by proceeding in such a way I would help the client to become more aware of the reality of the situation and not be surprised by the outcome. My client might be better positioned to influence the outcome as opposed to accept the likely turn of events.

This tool can be used in many corporate situations. What comes to mind is when there is a possible layoff and my client is sure he/she will not be laid off I will help the client to think about the possibility of being laid off and prepare him/herself for that.

This tool can also be used in many life situations where the client has expectations without taking into account many possibilities. It applies to marriage, children, family and friends. We human beings often wish for something positive to happen and disregard the possibility that it might not.