Why Coaching is such an Effective Development Tool.
Coaching for success is perhaps the most effective method of increasing performance available to managers, team leaders, and colleagues.
If you wish to improve the skills of your employees, you must plan to observe them and provide them with feedback. If you’re like most supervisors or managers, you have limited time and are looking for employees to become proficient – and independent – faster.
Coaching is appropriate for developing the skills of employees if the employee is willing to improve. Coaching should not be used as a softer, gentler version of corrective action; if a performance problem occurs, you would investigate what the underlying issue is and how you can help the individual to improve their performance.
It may be that they have a personal problem at home or have a capability issue such as a learning disability or health issue that is preventing them from delivering optimum performance or just doing their job to a good standard. Whatever the issue is then as a line manager you should be seeking to support and help them. The solution may be to re-train or coach them or possibly get Occupational Health involved if it is a medical problem.
Let’s look at a typical Coaching Model, based on several important principles:
There are two primary goals to coaching:
- To improve performance.
- To help employees gain the ability to self-assess.
It is important that the coaching sessions follow a predictable process. This will help the coachees feel more comfortable and relaxed, which will help to ensure they actively participate in these sessions. It is for this reason that you should share the coaching model with your employees prior to coaching.
Planned Coaching Sessions
Coaching is a planned development process and should not be a surprise to the coachee.
Setting the Tone for the session
The way you open the conversation sets the tone for what will follow.
During the Coaching Session – Key Benefits of Coaching
Once you have opened the conversation using your initial probe, always discuss positives first and areas for improvement last. Beginning with positives first is motivational and accomplishes the following:
- The goal is to have employees increase their performance. If they are not in a positive frame of mind, they will not be open to this change.
- Reinforces good behaviour and eases the coachee into the coaching session.
- Builds self-esteem.
- It encourages improvement even when you are not coaching.
- It allows you to determine why the employee may not be performing as desired; they may not know that they’re doing something incorrectly.
- It builds self-esteem.
- It increases the chances that behaviour will change.
- Reinforce correct self-assessment.
- Defer or redirect inappropriate or incorrect self-assessment.
We focus coaching on only two strengths and two areas for development. Limiting the discussion is important and accomplishes the following:
- Increases the coachee’s ability to reach proficiency.
- Focuses on the most important issues.
- Other issues can be addressed after some progress has been made on the most important issues first.
How to ensure understanding and commitment
If an employee is not identifying areas that you identified (or has identified them incorrectly), use increasingly specific questions to allow the employee to self-assess if possible. This allows you to determine if the employee doesn’t know what’s expected, doesn’t have the skill, or simply chooses not to demonstrate the skill.
Ending the Coaching Session
The Coaching session should always end with a discussion about areas for development. Creating a personal development or action plan is essential and ideally you want to get the coachee to write it down themselves as this way they are more likely to commit to achieving it.
Key elements for the development plan are:
- Area for development (what is the issue)
- What action are they going to take
- How will this be measured?
- What support do they need
- When they are going to achieve it by (specific date).
Always give the coachee a chance to self-assess before you offer your insights. Encouraging self-assessment is positive for several reasons:
The Coaching Model at Work
Step 1: Open the Conversation
The coach opens the conversation with a general question; this helps the coach get a sense for the accuracy of the coachee’s self-assessment. If the coachee responds with, “that was the best call ever” and you thought that the call was poor, you know that you’ll have to adjust your coaching conversation.
Step 2: Probe for What Went Well
The coach asks the coachee what went particularly well and listens for the responses. By identifying what went well first, a positive tone for the coaching session is set. We want to make sure that the coachee continues doing these things. This also forces the coachee — NOT THE COACH — to identify superior performance.
Step 2a: Redirect or Defer
Sometimes the coachee will bring up a negative when you’re discussing positives. You will want to defer that discussion until later in the coaching conversation by saying, “I’d like to talk about that more later. What else went particularly well?”
Other times, the coachee will claim something as a positive that — in your opinion — was an area that needs development. You will want to redirect their perception by pointing out what you saw that helped you conclude that it was less than desirable.
Step 2b: Support and Build
When the coachee correctly assesses his performance — both strengths and areas for development — support the assessment by saying, “I agree.” Build from their conclusions to reinforce the accuracy of their self-assessment. In this way, you are reinforcing one of the most valuable skills anyone can acquire: the ability to assess and improve their own performance.
Step 3: Probe for Areas for Development
The third step is to ask the coachee what he would change if he could do it again. Obviously, if the coachee knows what could be improved and knows how to improve it, he won’t benefit from YOU telling him! And by mentally rehearsing what he will do differently, the likelihood of him actually carrying out the improvement is increased.
Most experts agree that two or three areas for development are enough for anyone to work on. Working on a laundry list of things to change is frustrating and futile. Focus on the areas of greatest need.
When identifying areas for development, the coachee may not have identified the one that you thought was most important. Again, you can redirect their perception by identifying what you saw that they might not have that allowed you to come to your conclusion. “I agree that the two areas that you identified would definitely had made the call go better. What do you think the effect of your product feature presentation was on the customer? Why? What might you do differently the next time…?”
Step 4: Summarise and Support
Even though you may have limited the coaching to a few strengths and a couple areas for development, you will want to briefly summarise the discussion, especially what the coachee will do differently the next time. This recap will cause the most important things to remain fresh in memory. You will also want to support the changes by saying something like, “I think those changes will make your next call go even better.”
Follow these four steps to help your employees and colleagues increase their performance.
I have been a professional coach for the last 11 years and have worked with corporate clients and individuals. For more information about effective coaching take a look at AFC’s coaching programme(s) for business/career https://afcconsultants.co.uk/individual-coaching-programmes/
If you are an individual who is stuck in a rut, needs help with their career or has lost their way in life then take a look at my Behind the Mask Accelerator Programme which is an individual personal development journey of self discovery. https://behind-the-mask-book.com/
Call me for a 30 minute Breakthrough Discovery Session where we can identify whether I would be the right coach for you – 07702 818665 or email email@example.com
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