Our clients are increasingly coming to the realisation that their managers at all levels need to be effective coaches of their teams in order to retain talented staff, develop individual and team performance (accountability), manage change (innovation) and empower staff to exceed organisational/customer expectations. So, recently a client asked us what were the keys to becoming an effective coach.
Real coaching takes place one person at a time. Forget those fiery “motivational meetings”. That’s not where coaching really happens. Most effective coaching happens one-on-one, face-to-face without ever raising your voice. The goal of good coaching isn’t just to help employees achieve a certain specific goal. One success engenders another and instills the self-confidence that leads to high levels of performance and productivity in all tasks.
“A boss talks; a coach listens. A boss tries to fix a problem; a coach keeps problems from happening. A boss gives orders; a coach issues challenges. A boss works on his/her employees; a coach works with them. A boss passes out blame; a coach takes responsibility.”
Three keys to being an effective coach:
- Take responsibility: Being trusting and respectful doesn’t let you off the hook; managers have to manage. You are responsible for all performances of your team.
- Be assertive: Seek results, not excuses or reasons. Be a strong presence. Make sure your “yes” means “yes” and your “no” means “no”.
- Work with them, not on them: You’re in this thing together, and you share common goals. When they do well, you do well.
A good coach is supportive: this is a lot more than providing encouragement and a pat on the back. You must get your staff what they need to get their jobs done well. Tools, time, instruction, answers to questions and protection from outside interference. A good coach trusts and respects employees: they are conscientious; they tell the truth and they give a reasonable day’s work for a day’s pay. If they don’t you should not have hired them. Respect their rights as employees and as human beings…learn who they are and treat them as individuals.
Great coaches lead, innovate, motivate, and create through conversation. They use conversation to create openings and forward the action. They avoid “telling” and coach staff to see new “openings”, so they can see the appropriate action given their intention, their unique abilities and the job to be accomplished. They speak in a way that alters how staffs perceive the company’s objectives.
Great coaches take responsibility when the wrong thing happens. Is it really always their fault? That is not the point! By taking responsibility, it leaves them an opening for action with their staff. Mistakes are seen as an opportunity for learning. Change must be recognised and embraced rather than resisted or ignored. They ask staff for suggestions. They are the closest to the customer or even the opposition.
Coaches foster greater collaboration in the day to day operations. They make it the staff’s own department or organisation. Show respect for staff opinions and discuss/exchange ideas openly. Coaches want to hear their thoughts. Constant improvement and steady performance is the goal. The team should strive to always perform near their own level of competence. The focus is on the success of the entire “team”. Everybody has a chance to become a hero; no one cares who gets the credit when the team wins. Coaching managers are “in the field” or “on the floor” not “in their office”. They are close to staff, customers and suppliers.
Do your managers use coaching skills to improve staff accountability, engagement and empowerment?