Coaching for Development
Leadership means leading an organization in the right direction, but what if a person seems to be going the other way? Identify the reasons and the different ways to coach employees.
According to Florence M. Stone in his book Coaching, Counseling, and Mentoring: How to Choose and Use the Right Technique to Boost Employee Performance well versed and highly effective managers are those who clearly understand what works for one employee might not work for the other. That is why it is very important that managers have time to develop and implement coaching strategies for every employee on their team.
Leadership and Coaching: How to Accomplish
Coaching can be a very tedious and delicate process. Each employee has different needs, backgrounds and communication styles and a manager’s goal for coaching is to motivate improved performance while acknowledging these differences. In order to make coaching effective, it must be defined.
Coaching differs from mentoring in a key way: it is more task and performance-oriented than career-oriented. It takes the smaller view versus the larger and can be seen as micro versus macro. A coach seeks to improve the employee’s performance now, while a mentor seeks to develop their career in the long term through helping them identify and develop key relationships, new project participation, and educational opportunities.
To coach effectively, that is to help improve current performance, the following steps are helpful:
1. Learn and develop coaching skills. Great managers are not necessarily great coaches and it is surprising how few organizations give employees the opportunity to rate their coach’s skills or that provide formal ongoing coach training and support. Coaches need a forum with their managers to discuss employee issues they are struggling with, guidance on how to be more effective and the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on whether or not they are effective.
2. Perform an evaluation. Effective leaders know their team members and how they are performing. Managers cannot coach employees to stronger performance if a baseline of how they are currently performing is not set. Seek the employee’s self-evaluation as well and establish current performance trends.
3. Set performance expectations. In order to increase performance, managers and employees need to jointly set goals and expectations and how success will be measured. Great managers understand their individual team members‘ strengths and build their roles around those. Marcus Buckingham is an expert organizational development leader who has written a great series of books on identifying and building on employees’ strengths that can help guide managers in developing this skill.
4. Always coach with compassion. Compassion in the workplace is instrumental in building engagement, cooperation, innovation, and strong teamwork. Tim Sanders‘ Love is the Killer App explains how working with generosity and compassion can accelerate a career by establishing positive relationships. Coaching should be a compassionate activity. Coaching can last a long time, even for months. Results don’t happen overnight and the coaching relationship is between two people who bring their own agendas, personalities, and histories to the table.
5. Provide and solicit feedback. Coaching sessions should be regular and scheduled but there should be flexibility for unique situations and to provide reciprocal feedback. Employees must be given an opportunity to express themselves. Interim sessions provide the opportunity to touch base on how performance or work situations have changed and what type of support is currently needed. Managers must be able to determine how the coaching is affecting employee performance.
6. Give employees the ability to help make decisions. The authoritative leadership style is rarely appropriate in the modern workplace. Innovation requires collaboration among team members where all voices are heard. No one employee, regardless of position, can have the strength of the minds of the collective group. Do not just accept input, encourage and foster it.
7. Concentrate on their needs. Of course, managers definitely want to obtain organizational results from employee coaching sessions, but they also need to determine if the employee has any particular needs to be discussed. It should the employee’s coaching session and they should have input on the agenda. This results in buy-in from the employee on the value of coaching and increases their engagement in the organization.
The correct mindset of a manager who’s also coaching is to produce an environment that can promote learning, individual thinking, and the chance for the employees to contribute to the organization. The manager’s role is to act as a facilitator in this process.