Coaching is an essential tool in your leadership toolbox and should be pulled out on a regular basis. Your coaching tool can be used to address an actual performance issue in order to get an employee to their expected performance, or it can be more impactful when used to help an employee grow and improve in areas important to them.
Some of the benefits of coaching include:
- Empowering individuals and encouraging them to take responsibility
- Increasing employee and staff engagement
- Improving individual performance
- Helping identify and develop high potential employees
- Helping identify both organizational and individual strengths and development opportunities
- Motivating and empowering individuals to excel
- Demonstrating an organizational commitment to human resource development (IOC, 2017).
Successful coaching between a manager and a team member is enhanced by a strong relationship. An important aspect of developing a relationship is building TRUST. Coaching hinges on trust between the manager and the team member. Trust enhances credibility, listening, willingness to try new behaviors, and an openness to engage with the process. Whatever your motivation or reason for pulling out your coaching tool, there are some steps that you can take to be an effective coach.
Prior to conducting a coaching session, take time to outline key points to discuss with the team member. Using these key points will help you stay focused, cover key topics of discussion, and be more confident and relaxed in the process.
The first step of a coaching session is to describe the performance issue to your team members. Make this a collaborative step. Provide the team member the opportunity to share his perspective about his performance. Listen carefully to what the team member says. Use open-ended questions to enhance your understanding of the team member’s perspective. This can also help clarify performance aspects for the team member.
The second step is to discuss the impact of the issue or opportunity on the team members and others. For example, you may be coaching a team member that has arrived late multiple times but may offer to work late and see that as an even deal. However, they may not realize the impact they had on the other team members that may have had to pick up his slack before he arrived. You may have to give specific examples of how their behavior impacts others if they fail to make the connection. Keep in mind that the process requires patience. What seems obvious to you may not be so obvious to the team member.
The next step in the coaching session is to clarify the expectations you have of the employee. At the end of this step, it is important for the team member to clearly understand what performance is expected of him/her. One example of this step is that of a team member who is a good performer and has shown leadership capabilities but isn’t consistently meeting expectations. Understanding that consistently meeting expectations may be important before management is ready to promote him.
It’s important that the team member understand the consequences (if the coaching is to address a negative issue) and the benefits (if the coaching is to elevate satisfactory performance). What are the potential outcomes of meeting performance expectations? Is there a positive reward if the team member changes their behavior? For example, if performance meets expectations, can you recommend the individual for a special opportunity or extra training? Will meeting expectations open the door for a transfer or promotion? Providing this type of information can motivate and encourage the behaviors you are looking for out of your employees.
Next, engage the team member in action planning. What potential steps could the team member take to turn the situation around? This step is about engaging the team member in brainstorming ideas on how to improve performance. Once the team member has developed a good list of options, ask them what steps they will take. I refer to this as Committing to Action.
Be sure to develop a follow up plan with the team member. I’m an advocate of placing much on the follow up responsibility on the team member.
Lastly, document the conversation as appropriate. Seeing the conversation in writing not only elevates the sense of seriousness but may be needed should the team member choose not to meet expectations and you realize some level of discipline or termination is appropriate. While none of us likes to initiate these consequences, being an effective leader means doing the difficult things too.
As a leader, there are great potential benefits for your team members and organization when you take the time to develop a relationship with your team members and provide them with coaching.
SOON TO BE RELEASED: Coaching for Performance Improvement Online Course. Over the years, this topic has been the #1 coaching focus for leaders. This 4-hour course will guide you through learning an 8-Step process to have effective performance-oriented conversations.
For more information, contact Switzer Associates Leadership Solutions at 916-788-1094 or email Dr. Switzer at Merlin@SwitzerOnLeadership.com.
For the Faith-based:
Coaching is a process with the purpose to improve the performance and goals of other people. Simply stated, coaching is empowering people to grow and improve their skill set. The principles of coaching are found all throughout the Bible. We can see numerous examples of coaching relationships taking place. Sometimes the coaching happened on a one-to-one basis, and in other cases, it took place in a group setting. Nathan, the prophet, coached King David. David coached his army commanders and government officials to establish the united nation of Israel. David also coached Solomon. Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs which shares several verses on coaching, such as Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.”
We all have the ability and the chance to influence others. As Christians, we are called to lead by example and share our knowledge. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Christian coaches in order to bring change and create awareness, while keeping in mind the bigger picture of bringing glory to God through our works.
Institute of Coaching. (2017, December 6). Benefits of Coaching. Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://instituteofcoaching.org/coaching-overview/coaching-benefits