Author Interview #2 Stephen Goldberg

We sit down with Stephen Goldberg, an expert in performance management, leadership training, coaching, and corporate team building. Stephen is the founder of Optimus Performance, which works to improve employee performance and productivity in order to produce positive results for all types of businesses. Stephen is one of our most popular authors, with over 2000 views on his Eloquens channel.

We discuss everything from leadership coaching to goal setting, as well as the benefits that Stephen’s work can provide for both businesses and individuals.

Check out the full interview here!

Let’s go back to the start. How did you get into the Performance Management field and what then led you to start Optimus Performance?

I began working in the field of performance management over 25 years ago as a client rather than a coach. I was working in a small family business when I realized that hiring the right people, managing them properly, and maximizing performance and productivity were some of the most difficult aspects of running a business. This experience exposed me to new opportunities in development and coaching. This career path piqued my interest because it provided an opportunity for me to grow as a person and become a better leader.

I then decided to leave the family business and began approaching small to medium-sized business owners to see how I could assist them in transforming their operations. After a while of working with my initial coach, I established Optimus Performance and began my own journey.

What is your description of a Leadership Coach, and what are the typical roles of a coach within performance management?

We often associate a coach with the sports industry. For example, ice hockey is probably the most popular sport in Montreal, Canada, and during games, the coach sits on the sidelines, observing the players rather than on the ice. The coach’s role during the game is to help the players make better decisions and provide feedback on the fly, but also to work with individuals or the team to further develop skills outside of the game.

Einstein stated that we only use 10% of our brain, implying that we all have enormous potential to grow and improve professionally and personally into more balanced human beings. We can have better relationships with people, perform better on tasks, and achieve success in more ways than one. I suppose the true role of a coach is to assist people in realizing their individual potential and success.

How important is the coach’s role in providing a different perspective to the business team? How can this lead to long term business growth?

The true role of an external coach is to work with the team or business leaders to help them become coaches themselves. The goal is to assist teams in becoming fully autonomous and to encourage employees to accept more authority and responsibility in order to make more efficient decisions. This gives the business owner or team leader more time to work on other projects that will help them grow to the next level, or to devote more time to personal development. To me, the ultimate goal of any business owner or leader is to get to the point where the business can run itself successfully, and in order to do so, a coaching leadership style is required. It’s often very difficult for start-ups to achieve, but if they know the path to take, hiring an external coach like myself will undoubtedly help them get there.

In particular, how do you ensure that your templates provide people with a structure to succeed when it comes to goal setting? How would you go about setting a goal and then constructing a plan to achieve it?

This is where my goal-setting worksheet comes in. It enables you to set specific, measurable, and attainable goals within a reasonable timeframe. For example, if you set a goal of losing 20 pounds in the next six months, you should write down at least five of the six benefits of achieving this goal to keep yourself motivated. It is then critical to identify potential roadblocks, such as reducing sugar consumption. Following the identification of obstacles, the next step would be to identify some solutions, such as replacing sugar consumption with non-processed sugar sources such as fruits.

In this case, your overall goal is to lose 20 pounds in six months, but one of your action steps is to eliminate processed sugars, which contributes to your overall goal. My goal planning worksheet enables you to organize your goals in this manner while remaining focused on your tasks.

It’s also why you don’t need to set a lot of goals, but rather a few major ones with specific action steps (or mini goals) to achieve them. Achieving certain goals can have unexpected consequences in other areas of your life. Consider our health goal: by staying healthy, you will have a greater ability to work and serve others, which will help you achieve financial or personal goals in your life.

On your Eloquens channel, you have 38 different best practices available for download. What are some of these different best practices and templates on offer?

I have several goal-setting templates, such as the Goal Planning Worksheet and the Year in Review template, which I use every year to assess the success of the previous year. It entails reviewing the highlights of the year, what you were pleased with, what went wrong, and what you want to achieve next year. Individuals or businesses will frequently consider goals for the new year but fail to remember them throughout the year. Writing down your goals and specific action steps, on the other hand, helps you stay accountable and focused throughout the year.

Some of my best practices involve using what I call the Win-Win agreement to manage employee performance. In fact, I have a YouTube video on my channel that goes over the agreement in greater detail. The Win-Win agreement aids in improving clarity between managers and employees, defining roles and commitments, and improving overall communication.

Other best practices assist CEOs or business owners in establishing a coaching leadership style and delegating authority to their employees. There are problem-solving tools, employee training plans, employee performance tables, top-performer spreadsheets, and much more. A business owner with five salespeople, for example, can determine the best performer based on sales numbers, but with my tables, you can evaluate the criteria behind just the sales numbers. Other activities, strategies, comparisons, and dynamics can be included.

The Eloquens platform has over 200,000 users, with over 23,000 viewing your channel. Many people obviously find your templates extremely useful, but who would be your ideal client to work with? What services do you offer to this specific individual or business?

My ideal client is the owner of a small or medium-sized business with 10 to 100 employees. I also enjoy working with team leaders who want to grow and improve their team’s performance. I’ve spent a lot of time helping leaders in understanding how to develop teamwork because this topic is frequently misunderstood. People may believe that teamwork is simply members getting along with one another, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. True teamwork entails delegating decision-making in order to maximize efficiency.

I assist my clients’ teams in becoming more autonomous by promoting continuous improvement and increasing business agility. To facilitate this, each team member must learn and develop the necessary skill set, and it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that each skill is learned.

Essentially, my ideal clients are primarily business owners and functional team leaders who want to improve their “coaching” skills and develop more autonomous teamwork. The other component I can help business owners with is hiring the right person for the job. This involves employing someone with the skills, experience, and personality traits that complements the company and other team members.

Do you have a wider target audience in mind? Perhaps a larger company wanting to use some of your best practices to improve their overall performance.

Absolutely, the size of the company doesn’t matter. I tend to work with small to medium sized business because that’s the size of company I grew up in. Although I feel most effective at smaller businesses, the best practices I offer can be applied to any company of any size. Let’s say instead of 5 salespeople, there are 40, the same strategy of establishing clarity within communication applies.

Larger companies may have more structure, which may imply more protocols that employees and managers must follow. This can have both positive and negative consequences, but the behavioural concepts underlying my best practices remain the same, perhaps with some modifications to work within the constraints of specific protocols.

What are some of the advantages business owners can expect to enjoy after employing your services?

Business owners will see an improvement in communication both within and across teams. Coaching sessions will require business owners to meet with individuals and learn about their employees’ perspectives and current challenges. As a result, leaders can impose tailored solutions and training opportunities for each team, which will save time in the long run. Employees will learn to solve problems on their own without constant guidance from leaders, and as a result, they will be more engaged and motivated by their tasks.

This method has been shown to effectively retain employees and keep top performers at the company. Giving top employees more responsibilities and challenges is critical for keeping them engaged in their work and driving business growth. People leave managers, not jobs, as the old adage goes, and thus improving relationships between leaders and employees is critical. I assist business owners in empowering their employees and reducing the disconnect between manager and team member.

Part of what we do at Optimus Performance is assist companies in filling difficult-to-fill positions. For example, a client of mine was looking for a software engineer and had two people already working for the company apply for the position. This raises a few concerns: are they qualified? Are they on the lookout for a new job? Would they leave the company for a similar position elsewhere?

With my coaching style of leadership, business owners can more easily identify whether employees are looking for new roles through regular meetings, open company communication, and other methods. In fact, I’ve recently published a new best practice on Eloquens titled employee performance evaluations. Many small businesses do not have the time or know how to conduct these evaluations, so I created this template to guide business owners through the process.

What differentiates yourself and Optimus Performance from your competitors? What makes you stand out in the performance management industry?

Based on my leadership training workshops and best practices, I believe this “people-oriented approach” is a unique aspect of my work. This approach was first taught to me as part of my own leadership training by my former partner and mentor, Fritz Glaus.

Fritz has a book called “cRazYZoo, know thyself made easy,” which is a fable about zoo animals who can communicate telepathically with the zookeeper. Each animal in the book represents one of the six traditional “types” of people. We have an exercise in my courses and workshops where people can learn what “type” of person they are, including any characteristics or negative tendencies associated with this character type. Learning about yourself can increase your awareness of how others perceive you, allowing you to act on these perceptions and improve your relationships with those around you.

Another powerful tool that makes my work unique is the psychometric assessment that we provide in the workshops. Usually, these assessments are just online forms and often little to no information is obtained from the results; however, because my method is more interactive, people are more likely to discover new traits about themselves and, as a result, become better leaders.

One of the main reasons my work is distinct is because of who I am. Some people connect well with me, while others may not, but I believe that you can certainly improve relationships with those you work with if you are aware and willing to take action.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Lao Tzu

What does the future hold for both Optimus Performance and the content on your Eloquens channel? Do you plan on publishing more best practices, and if so, what are they?

In the future, I plan on hosting live online workshops where people can learn and ask questions about my content. One component will include learning about yourself because I believe knowing yourself is an important aspect of leadership. People inherently have different qualities and perhaps some behaviours can impede progress and so I hope to help people unlock the best version of themselves and therefore unlock the best in others.

Through these workshops, I hope to educate more people and with such a broad audience already on Eloquens, perhaps I will be able to host some live workshops on the channel in the future!

I also have a best practice for employee performance review that I will publish soon and make available for download on my Eloquens channel.

About Stephen 

Stephen is the founder of Optimus Performance, which works to improve employee performance and productivity in order to produce positive results for all types of businesses. Under Optimus Performance, he provides three main value propositions:

  1. Consulting/coaching services & tools to help companies hire the right person for the job.
  2. Coaching on managing employee performance to owners of small businesses.
  3. Training on leadership and teamwork to first time managers or those with little experience.

Stephen was also a Lecturer at McGill University, Montreal, where he delivered  Master Level classes on leadership, team development and self-knowledge.

With over 2000 downloads, 23,000 views, and 38 best practices available for download already, be sure to check out Stephens channel and take advantage of his expertise!

Some of Stephen’s Best Practices