by Keith E. Smith
We toss around the word “coaching” frequently these days, but how you define it and the way you actually do it matters. It matters a lot.
Do you use any of these methods to coach your team?
• Threats- i.e. their. job, pay, etc.
• Humiliation- calling them out in front of their peers.
If you are using any of the above methods, you are not coaching. You are controlling, or are at least attempting to control, your people. This method will never produce positive, long-term change. You can manage performance to a certain extent, but people need to be coached.
The problem is that most managers, and business owners, only focus on the performance side of the coaching coin. Coaching for performance is important, but the only way lasting change ever takes place is to coach for development. Coaching for performance addresses an individual’s skill and technique, while coaching for development addresses the individual.
When you focus only on the performance issue, you are putting all of your attention on the negative results. You can hammer that home till your blue in the face, but it will seldom be effective in bringing about the desired change. This does not mean you ignore poor performance, but rather you seek to correct it by going straight to the source; the individual.
Remember, your personnel roster is filled with “persons”. Each person is unique and cannot be reprogrammed like a machine. This is where coaching for development comes in to play. Poor performance can almost always be traced to poor habits. If an individual has poor work habits you can teach them new skills, but those skills will not be utilized until their habits have changed.
You will have to tap into the learning style of each person on your team. Developmental coaching focuses on helping a person learn in ways that will keep them growing. It is asking them questions rather than giving them orders, and getting them to think instead of giving them step-by-step directions. It is giving them clear goals and holding them accountable for those goals. You want to make them aware of their strengths, and areas in which you can help them grow.
Coaching For Development
• In order to coach someone in a way that will help them to grow, you must first develop a relationship built on trust, support, and patience. They must know that you genuinely care about them. If you do not have this kind of relationship with your team, then that is your starting point. Skipping this, or downplaying the importance of it, will make you come across as fake and insincere.
• Help them become self-aware. Ask open-ended questions that cause them to think about their intentions, performance and habits. Help them to discover inconsistencies, rather than pointing them out yourself.
• Encourage them to make progress and recognize their successes.
• Have them set their own goals, and then hold them accountable to their goals.
• Listen to their concerns and allow them to share their feelings.
• Know that change you seek will come, but it won’t be overnight.
Remember, both sides of the coin are important. You must coach performance and development. Do both, do it consistently, and you will see significant change that will last.