Provide Ongoing Coaching

WHAT IS COACHING?

Coaching can be defined as helping employees to improve in current jobs and develop potential for the future; this is what you do in giving feedback during performance reviews.

Developing performance excellence is not only about official reviews and performance feedback, it is further enhanced by those managers who act as a “coach” on an ongoing basis. Keep in mind:

  • Coaching can be formal or informal; it can take the form of a structured learning session or an informal discussion with someone to help them deal with an issue.
  • Coaching can be used to improve performance in a specific area, to help someone modify a behavior, or simply to provide encouragement.
  • The overall objective of coaching is to lend an objective perspective to a situation an individual is facing, helping them identify actions to be taken and providing them with the momentum/discipline to follow through on the plan.

BEING A SUCCESSFUL COACH

As a coach, you should:

  • be prepared to offer each individual a number of opportunities to develop skills or discuss the development of a certain skill from a number of approaches or situations;
  • create a climate of trust to encourage people to talk about their mistakes and lessons learned from them;
  • make yourself available to meet with employees in a timely manner to discuss situations as they come up; and
  • at an organizational level, promote a culture where feedback, reflection, innovation and change are encouraged.

These tips will help you become a successful coach:

  • Establish the right environment– create a climate of open and honest communication;
  • Employ active listening skills–  show you are interested in what employees have to say; allow employees to lead the way;
  • Reflect on what employees have said by paraphrasing, clarifying, interpreting, or summarizing their feelings and thoughts;
  • Once you have summarized employee’s thoughts and feelings, you can then identify appropriate next steps.

KEY QUESTIONS

Asking these questions on an ongoing basis allows the individual to evaluate what was right and wrong with a situation and provide an avenue for change.  The goal is for the employee to come up with what he or she can do to improve.

  • “What did you like about what you did?”
  • “If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?  What would you change, and how?”
  • “What help do you need from me?”

DOS AND DON’TS

DO

  • Be a role model for excellence
  • Encourage growth through positive encouragement
  • Ensure people know how they fit with overall goals
  • Be specific about improvements needed; offer development; proactively encourage “stretch”
  • See mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Separate behaviour from person

DON’T

  • Make promises you can’t deliver on
  • Be inconsistent (turn from coach to autocrat)
  • Be impatient
  • Ignore problems
  • Threaten
  • Lose your cool
  • Be general and vague about issues of concern
  • Fail to follow-up as promised
  • Not recognize improvements

COACHING FOR CHANGE

In attempting to improve performance, the tools you have to work with as a coach are:  trust, mutual respect, a sense of common purpose, integrity and honesty. Successful outcomes from coaching discussions increase where the agenda for change is limited to one aspect of behaviour at a time. Expectations must be agreed upon, both in terms of output and behaviour demanded. The criteria for success must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bounded.

These factors are also key to coaching to improve performance:

  • The coach has to have a fully formed picture of successful performance.
  • The picture must be specific enough for the coach to be able to compare real-time behaviour with his/her vision and develop insightful and appropriate interventions.
  • The coach must relate the behaviour to the required competencies.
  • The coach must model the competencies and present an emotional commitment to the vision through his/her overt behaviour.

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