There's a relatively new term being bantered about coaching. A formal definition of coaching is: "the continuing evolution of one-on-one management communication skills designed to effectively achieve both company success and employee professional development objectives in a rapidly changing work environment." The less formal definition is:
"You, the boss, have to teach your employees to be the very best they can be."
A great job of coaching is critical to managing your team. Coaching requires managers to direct employees by influencing them not controlling them.
Effective coaching has the ability to boost morale and productivity tremendously by making employees feel empowered and by creating the feeling of "ownership" of their work.
Coaching is the process of using questions and great listening skills and rendering support to assist the employee being coached in developing fundamental self-assessment skills that result in increased productivity and skill levels and overall job satisfaction.
Okay, so you're the boss. What range of skills will you need to be a great coach? Well, the successful coach:
- Will be well regarded and well respected.
- Works closely with employees in a variety of situations.
- Has skills and abilities desired by others.
- Understands and articulates the culture, missions and values of
- Is sincere in relationships with employees.
- Will allow the relationship to develop as the employee
- Is trusting and respectful.
- Sets clear objectives and gives honest feedback (job
performance evaluations and job descriptions).
- Empathizes with employees; he or she has been there and can
relate to what they are experiencing.
- Offers professional and personal support and guidance.
- Serves as a role model, leading by example.
- Allows for individual agendas and respects the needs of the
- Talks with not to or at the employees.
- Identifies and communicates the objectives to be reached and
how the efforts will be measured (goals and incentives).
- Allows others to grow and develop without fear or concern about
his or her own status.
- Makes available both formal and informal feedback on employees'
- Constantly identifies opportunities to improve and plans ways to achieve improvement
An important part of successful coaching is communication the ability to pass on knowledge, information and decision-making skills so the employee can carry out management's orders and directives. You want employees to be able to solve problems on their own.
There actually is a process or formula that you can use to achieve successful coaching. Following is a list of several things you can do to ensure success in your coaching meeting:
- Set a specific time and length for the session.
- Do the coaching in a comfortable environment that will be
conducive to learning.
- Have an agenda. Define and agree on the topics to be covered.
Set goals for each coaching session.
- Ask questions to define how much the employee knows about the
subject or task.
- Be a great listener. Focus on the employee and the coaching
- Be positive throughout the session: Offer support or
acknowledgement regardless of what level of understanding the
employee has of the subject.
- Have the employee repeat back the information he or she has
- Have the employee demonstrate the newly learned skill.
- Observe, critique and give feedback on how the employee is
- Once the techniques are learned, be sure the employee practices
the newly learned skill.
- Give recognition for a skill well learned.
- Agree on a next-step plan to practice and follow up on continuing improvement.
The Fab Five
If you really want to be the very best coach you can be, here are five things you must do:
1. Actively listen to your employees: Learning how to be an effective listener is an art unto itself. You need to learn how to have dialogue rather than a monologue. Use your two ears and one mouth in the right proportion two-thirds should be listening and one-third should be talking.
2. Establish open lines of communication. You need to create a comfortable environment in which performance levels can be examined and evaluated rather than defended or explained.
3. Give feedback. Your employees need to know how they're doing whether their performance is excellent, good, fair or poor. Your job is to communicate this to the employee in a constructive, mentoring way.
4. Be patient. Patience (sometimes a lot of it) is required for successful coaching. Good coaches learn to ask rather than tell. They know it's important to empower employees to use their newly learned skills in their own way.
5. Conduct follow-up sessions. Coaching and learning are never-ending exercises. Coaching is an ongoing commitment for both the manager and the employees.
It's important to take the time to step back and look at yourself. What kind of coach are you right now? Can you improve? Do you understand why it's so important for you, your company and your employees to be a good coach?
If you do, develop a plan and put it in writing. Look at each employee and determine where each person is with his or her current skill levels and what you need to do to increase and improve these levels.
By becoming a better coach you will see productivity increase
and employee morale improve, and, you'll start having more fun as
the "boss" of your business.