Are you really coaching your employees?

September 25, 2018

Are you really coaching your employees?

Famed NFL coach Tom Landry said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.”

coaching word cloudLandry’s words apply in every coaching situation, from coaching football players, rising executives, or the employee on the front line. It’s all about how the coach approaches the coachee.

In his book, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman identifies six leadership styles that he categorizes as resonant and dissonant styles. In other words, six styles that either “prime good feelings in those we lead” or they don’t.  One of the four resonant leadership styles is coaching.

We use coaching in the workplace to develop employees as well as to address performance problems. When we coach, we

  • help employees identify strengths and weaknesses to determine what to develop.
  • encourage them to work towards long term self-development goals
  • provide assignments that stretch their abilities.

I have been fortunate in my career to have had a couple of managers (Deborah and Hunter) who did a great job at coaching me to stretch myself, to do more, to be more. When I think back on what made them so good at coaching, three things come to mind right away.

Coaching tip: Build Trust

First, I trusted them.  Both earned my trust by showing me that they cared about me both professionally and personally.  I could talk with them about anything and know that they would hold what I shared with them in absolute confidence.

Coaching tip: Ask Questions

One mistake that managers make when they think they are coaching is that they simply tell the employee what to do. Real coaches ask questions.  The two managers who effectively coached me did so by asking me questions, such as:

  • “What did I think about XXXXX.”
  • “How did I think I could best achieve YYYYY.”
  • “What roadblocks do you see?”

Coaching tip: Provide Feedback

Lastly, Deborah and Hunter provided ongoing feedback. With these two, performance review time never held any surprises. If there were issues, they gave me feedback at the time the issue arose.  If there were opportunities for growth or improvement, they were giving me that feedback in the moment.  And their feedback was always specific, always included examples, and always helped me grow.

Coaching is a powerful tool for performance development. Every manager needs to have this skill as a tool in their toolkit.  That’s why we coach managers individually and also train managers and leaders on how to use this tool more effectively.  If we can help you or someone on your team, contact us.

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