Dan Rose admits he is passionate about running his company, Elite Metal Finishing, in Oceanside, California.
He is almost too passionate if you were to ask his more than 50 employees who work at Elite.
“I’m a real passionate guy, and when talking to my staff, sometimes it comes out as a little bit of a temper,” says Rose, president of the company he founded in 2001. “I had to really learn to say, ‘Okay, look, just take it easy.’“
It was his interactions with his employees — many of whom were starting to see Rose becoming stressed running a finishing operation — that caused him several years ago to seek out a job coach to him manage not just his company but also himself.
“My business started to grow beyond my level of expertise,” Rose says. “I felt extremely overwhelmed.”
Hiring a Job Coach to Handle Stress
He searched the internet for classes on business for over six months before coming across a company called Business Breakthroughs International, which offered a five-week virtual training course developed by self-help guru Anthony Robbins and others.
The course included a series of videos and five sessions with an assigned coach, who happened to be Jim Castiglia, who has been in the training industry since 1977 and has led over 3,000 personal and professional development workshops. Castiglia has worked for three international management consulting firms, is a black belt in karate, and has had his own coaching firm, Business Street Fighter Consulting, LLC since 1994.
“Business today is a street fight you can’t afford to lose,” Castiglia says.
Castiglia worked with Rose over continuous 3-month periods to help him manage his business and himself, and he still works with him today, almost 12 years later.
“Dan was looking for support because it’s true that it’s lonely at the top,” says Castiglia. “Who do these owners talk to and share their ideas, their problems, their concerns, their issues with?”
Statistics on how many small business owners utilize a job coach is unclear, but Fast Company reported this year that 39% of CEOs in a survey used an executive coach in the last 12 months. A survey by the International Coach Federation of those working with a coach discovered that 62% of executives and entrepreneurs set better goals, 57% lowered their anxiety, and 52% felt more confident.
While many can talk to their spouses, friends, and maybe other business owners, Castiglia says Rose was looking for business expertise. Fortunately, Castiglia was based nearby in California at the time and visited with Rose numerous times to start the coaching process.
Grow Business to the ‘Next Level of Achievement’
He says Rose was no different from many other presidents and CEOs he has worked with.
“I work with owners of businesses from $2 million to $100 million in sales,” Castiglia says. “The one thing they have in common is they want to grow their business to the next level of achievement. But they are running into some obstacles, and these are obstacles that are very typical when you’re going to these bigger milestones.”
Rose says at the time he felt simply paralyzed by the decisions he needed to make to run Elite Metal Finishing and realized he needed outside advice. He had gone from four employees when he started to now over 50, and the challenges grew exponentially.
“When you run a business, you’ve got a lot of moving parts,” he says. “I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do next. Was I getting the most out of my employees? Was I handling the financials? Was I doing the right things in my business? Were my managers doing what they were good at? It was just trying to put a square peg in a round hole, and I was just frustrated.”
Castiglia says that when he started coaching Rose, he recognized that he had a point where most of the CEOs he has worked with were at what he calls a “ceiling of complexity.” To go to the next level, Castiglia says Rose needed to “upgrade his particular leadership and management” capabilities.
“What is common is that feeling of being overstretched and overwhelmed,” Castiglia says. “They’re stressed because they are running quite quickly, and they are frustrated with things, and they don’t know what to do. And they are typically very driven. It’s why they built these companies.”
Identifying Performance Strengths
The first step in the coaching process with Rose was Castiglia having him identify his performance strengths and determining if Rose had an opportunity to use those every day in his company. He also had Rose identify the strengths of his top leadership team.
This world-class strengths assessment inventory gives Castiglia a rapid way to look at what he is dealing with when he starts working with an owner and their organization.
“In five minutes, I know what the performance, leadership, and management strengths of my clients are, and they can learn them very quickly,” Castiglia says. “We’re so close to our strengths that it’s difficult to see them clearly. It reinforces what they may have kind of an inkling about and allows them to step back and see their strengths and weaknesses clearly. Clients also learn the downside to their strengths and how that can get in the way of achieving their vision.”
The other advantage of the inventory is that it helps people to understand what it is that stresses them. Castiglia says by owners knowing what their strengths are, they begin to learn their weaknesses and what stresses them.
“We get stressed because of the attentional and psychological demands placed on us by our performance environments,” he says. “We don’t have the strengths to deal with those demands, and that’s where stress builds.”
During this initial first step, Rose drew an analogy to taking golf lessons from a pro.
“They wouldn’t start telling you what to do before they see your address, your grip, your swing, your flexibility,” he says. “So this gave Jim a roadmap of what he’s dealing with, and now we can move forward. Now we can start working together, and it makes a lot more sense and a lot easier.”
In-Person and Video Meetings, Plus Homework
Rose met Castiglia once a week for two hours on a video call and was given several assignments to do, plus reading material. He also bought a few books that Castiglia recommended him to read based on things they were working on.
“It was a good 8 to 10 hours a week,” Rose says. “And it was an opportunity to step back and work on my business.”
Rose says with a laugh that one of Castiglia’s many talents is that, “He is a marvelous mind reader. You can try to bullshit him, and he’s not going to fall for it. I’ve tried it a few times.”
But during the process — and over the 12 years that they have worked together — Rose says he and Castiglia have had a great relationship and that he enjoyed that he always felt he could talk to him freely.
“He gets right to the bottom of it,” Rose says. “If I say something, he responds with, ‘That’s not really what the problem is, Dan. This is the problem.’ I didn’t even think about that. The communication between us has been amazing.”
Castiglia says that being trained in martial arts, he has a naturally confrontational personality that suits him well in coaching others.
“It’s one of my strengths, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy what I do and why I created this business,” he says. “I enjoy confronting people and really exposing reality to them. And I’m pretty good at that because I’ve been doing it for 45 years.”
Working Directly with Shop Managers
It was also helpful that Rose brought Castiglia in to work directly with his shop managers. At the beginning of each 90-day program, they both met with each Elite Metal Finishing manager. Then Castiglia would meet with them one-on-one for monthly coaching sessions. They would take a couple of months’ break and then do another 90-day session.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been doing, and it’s worked,” Rose says. “It is a wonderful thing because now we’re all on the same page, and we understand our strengths and where we’re vulnerable to making performance mistakes, which can be very costly.”
Almost immediately after the coaching began, Rose says his level of stress went down as a result of working with Castiglia. One reason was that he had Rose initiate a decision-making process called “Stop,” which has several steps:
- Sit quietly and calm yourself.
- Think about the results I want to achieve.
- Organize and write down my actions.
“Every morning when I come in, I do the ‘Stop’ exercise,” Rose says. “It was because my stress level was so high, and I didn’t know where to go next. And this really helped me organize my thoughts.”
Eventually, the Elite Metal Finishing staff and managers picked up how Rose was starting to change, both in his demeanor and in his management style. He says he is more effective in communicating and working with his employees.
In fact, Elite Metal Finishing has fewer meetings now than before, but they are getting more accomplished in the meetings. They have agendas for each meeting now and better follow-up. There is improved note-taking, and the meetings never go past one hour.
“We do problem-solving, and they’re productive,” Rose says. “We walk away, we’ve got a clear picture of what we want to do. Everybody’s on the same page, and it’s been wonderful.”
Reducing Stress and Growing Bottom Line
Castiglia says not only do business owners reduce their stress levels when they accept coaching, but they also see an improved bottom line.
“You can see it in the numbers what’s happening,” he says. “When you optimize your business, that can mean increasing sales, but a business can be optimized in a number of ways. A lot of business owners want to double sales, but I always tell them, ‘You think you got problems now? Wait until you double sales.’ You want to have that foundation built so that when you double sales, you’re not slamming into your limitations that you’re dealing with at the current level.”
Rose says that his employees noticed the change in him, and he has been very open and honest with them about the coaching he has been taking.
“One of the first employees I ever hired is still with me today, and she went up to Jim and said “I don’t know what you did, but keep doing it because he’s a different guy,” Rose says. “I resolved to be a better person, the personal growth as a result of my coaching is priceless.”