Whether you’re looking for a complete transformation of your workplace, or just need some minor tweaking to bring up the level of excellence, employee coaching is the way to accomplish your aims.
Here is the basic structure of coaching:
- Identify a goal.
- Identify all the obstacles to reaching that goal.
- Figure out which challenge you’d like to address.
- Come up with a plan of action – with concrete, measurable and definable ways to overcome the obstacle – and stay on top of it.
Coaching in the office
How those basics are applied depends on your particular workplace challenge.
If your main problem is personnel, is it one person or many? If it’s one person, you can coach him or her individually. If it’s the entire team, then do a gut-check. Ask yourself, “Am I the problem here?” If you’re not sure, ask your boss for some honest feedback.
If you are, in fact, the problem, ask for coaching.
But let’s assume the boss says you’re heading in the right direction. Go ahead and set a goal for your employee or group…and then step out of your “boss” role and into that of “coach.” These roles are not necessarily the same.
Here’s what you’ll need in your new role:
- Excellent listening skills. A coach listens 80 percent of the time – especially for the things that aren’t being said – and talks 20 percent. Listening involves all the senses, so watch for body language and other “tells.”
To help you remember this 80-20 rule, write down this acronym and consult it frequently when coaching: W.A.I.T., or Why Am I Talking?
- The ability to ask open-ended questions. Your goal is to draw out the knowledge, skills and talents that the employee already possesses.
- Selective amnesia. This is probably the most difficult thing for a manager to do. You may think you know exactly what the employee needs to do. Forget about it. Your job, as coach, is not to provide the answers but to help the employee come up with his own solutions.
- Patience. As a coach, your job is to ask: “What’s your next step? When do you think you can have that done?” Let the decision be theirs, not yours.
If your employee is making a halfhearted effort, ask if she can do more, or within a shorter time frame.
And if a worker bites off a huge piece, be sure she’s taking into account not just the difficulty of this task, but how it fits into the overall scheme of her work schedule.
- Compassion. A coach is always supportive, helps people when and where they feel stuck, and doesn’t beat them up over an occasional stumble.
- Focus. Once your employee has committed to a course of action, it’s your job to provide accountability and help her stay on track.
- Toughness. Sometimes you’ll have to challenge perspectives, point out inconsistencies in logic and urge her to explore options beyond her comfort level.
- Enthusiasm. As a coach, you are behind your employee a thousand percent. You’ll cheer her on, hold her hand and help her take the necessary steps to be successful.
- Consistency. For best results, most individual coaching takes place three weeks on, one week off, for between 30 and 55 minutes each session.
Depending on the urgency of your situation, you may find that one-on-one coaching every two weeks is sufficient. Whatever works the best, be sure you come to a mutual agreement.
- Buy-in. For success in coaching, whether it’s done in-house or by an external professional, the employee needs to be open and receptive to it. This is true whether you’re coaching an employee with a performance problem, or coaching your best worker to even greater heights.
- Understanding. You can’t change other people. They can only change themselves.
What’s worked well for you in coaching others in your workplace? I’d love to hear your comments!