coaching skills 101, coaching definition, meaning, and best practices

coaching skills 101, coaching definition, meaning, and best practices

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at some point in their lives most people
have been on a team that had a coach baseball hockey swimming whatever it
might be the concept of coaching is generally understood but things get a
little fuzzy in the business environment when we try to differentiate between
coaching and mentoring or even training so let’s start by clarifying those
definitions training is all about skill specific learning helping employees
acquire the skills they need to perform their jobs mentoring involves high-level
support and advice based on the wisdom of previous experience in some ways
coaching as both of those rolled into one
with the more strategic slant it’s about your ability to make other people more
successful helping them identify and eliminate roadblocks in their careers
guiding them to achieve their full potential and preparing them for success
at the next level now let’s review the five components of coaching for leaders
first coaching is focused on both short-term what we call performance
improvement and long-term which is performance development performance
improvement coaching involves helping employees become more effective in their
current job right now maybe guiding them to close a particular
skill gap addressing behavioral or interpersonal problems that might be
preventing them from reaching their goals clarifying expectations and even
discussing consequences performance development coaching is more about
helping employees prepare for the future getting to know their strengths
understanding their long-term career visions leaders help them define and
clarify their goals then they help their employees gain the skills and experience
they need for whatever lies ahead perhaps that’s exposing them to
different parts of the company giving them stretch assignments or letting them
take on more responsibilities all those things will give them valuable
preparation for growth and possibly even a leadership position down the road
successful coaches address both angles helping their employees to improve right
now and to prepare for tomorrow second
coaching is a relationship not an event instead of framing it as a calendar
commitment every Tuesday great leaders think of coaching is ongoing and
interactive a continuous process based on honesty and trust when they agree to
coach someone they’re entering into an extended relationship for sustained
support third coaching can be formal or informal yes
leaders need a regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting with the employees
they coach but it can be informal too in the break room in the hall after a
meeting as coaches become more comfortable with the process they can
eventually weave coaching into everything they do in whatever setting
they find themselves fourth coaching isn’t about providing all the answers
leaders who coach listen and ask questions they got employees to find the
answers on their own coaches start conversations rather than issuing
demands they ask what if and that’s what ignites the curiosity with an employee’s
encouraging them to become invested in the outcome
finally coaching isn’t the right solution for every situation
coaching requires an investment of time and they’re going to be situations when
that just doesn’t make sense sometimes leaders need to make decisions give
orders and propel projects forward it takes some discernment to know when
coaching is the right approach and when it isn’t fully understanding the
definition and context of leadership coaching will give you an advantage as
you move forward to integrate this management strategy with greater
effectiveness you leadership coaching requires a
significant commitment of time and energy so the question inevitably comes
up is it worth it in a nutshell absolutely if coaching didn’t produce
concrete advantages companies wouldn’t even bother let’s find out why they do
and take a close look at the business case for coaching first what’s in it for
those being coached the obvious answer is the growth in their skills but it’s
so much more than that when employees are coached they feel like their talent
is being recognized and their potential is being respected it’s a huge motivator
they think if my leader sees something in me that’s worthy of nurturing and
growing I need to step up my game so when coaching helps them clearly
envision a long term career path the employees generally work harder and
faster to make that become a reality the interesting thing is coaching allows
employees to uncover a real excitement about their work
the one-on-one guidance helps them better play to their strengths and they
end up doing more work they enjoy in that way
coaching measurably increases their job satisfaction the vote of confidence that
comes from coaching also makes employees feel a greater connection with the
company which is essential in today’s business climate particularly with those
classified as Millennials employees like working for a company that is actively
investing in their future second the coaching relationship has enormous
benefits for the coaches themselves leaders have to juggle so many different
roles they sometimes feel like they’re swimming in a pool that’s a mile wide
and an inch deep the truth is coaching allows leaders to
finally take a deep dive in one area and really make a difference instead of
directing they get to position themselves as collaborators coaching
gives leaders the perfect venue to build relationships with team members provide
comprehensive feedback and support their employees professional growth all of
which enables leaders to reinforce accountability within the process
cochin also allows leaders to infuse a little more creativity into their roles
as they think of fresh ways to inspire and encourage people who are at
different points along their career paths for many leaders who accept the
coaching role they say it’s the most fulfilling part of their job helping
others to grow and learn and being able to see the actual impact of their work
on others from a long-term perspective leaders who refine their coaching skills
and have a track record of success will accelerate their own careers the ability
to coach others expands their sphere of influence and makes them more valuable
to the organization finally what advantages does the company get from
implementing a coaching culture in many ways organizations benefit most of all
coaching has proven to have an enormous bottom line impact employees who are
coached are statistically shown to exhibit higher productivity and
increased levels of engagement strong team relationships lead to positive
morale the employees connection with their leaders increases their loyalty to
the company which improves retention lowering the cost for hiring and
training and the cumulative effect from all of those factors is increased
performance that’s why companies believe in it study after study shows that
coaching provides the foundation for high-performing teams and teams that
work together effectively produce amazing results it’s coaching worth it
without a doubt the business case for coaching is definitive companies and
leaders who make it a priority will reap the benefits in lasting ways you organizations that deliberately create a
coaching climate can reap big benefits but there are some common challenges
let’s take a look at the top four and discuss some ways to overcome those the
first challenge is time not having enough of it think through your options
what tasks can you offload or delegate to find a few hours a week for firmly
sessions once you have that time set aside you can be intentional about
finding informal coaching moments in all of your casual interactions another
alternative is to coach those who show a genuine interest in growth and
development if it’s not a current practice at your company for leaders to
discuss individual development plans with their employees then offer to do so
for those who show an interest well I can’t help you add hours to your day I
can’t encourage you to shuffle your priorities and remember the
extraordinary benefits that coaching can deliver if you invest your time and
energy it will pay off the second challenge is a lack of formal training
some leaders might think that they know how to coach based on their experiences
with sports teams but business coaching is a different thing make the commitment
to understand and adopt the skills needed for effective coaching it also
helps to follow a proven coaching model as a framework to increase your impact
practice coaching ask for honest feedback and continue refining your
skills over time the third challenge is distraction from competing roles leaders
have to wear a lot of hats strategists manager visionary problem solver and
that’s just the tip of the iceberg understandably your attention gets
pulled in many different directions during the course of a day or even an
hour but for coaching to be effective the employee sitting in front of you
needs to feel like you are focused on them genuinely interested in their
progress and invested in their careers that’s the emotional connection that
makes coaching so valuable to create that connection requires discipline on
your part to block out the dedicated time and give them your full attention
be Prez and fully engaged manage whatever
emotions are competing for your mental bandwidth commit to the process and
prove to your team members that you are in it for them the last challenge is
resistance from difficult employees sometimes you have team members who just
may not be open to the coaching relationship and that’s a difficult
thing to handle theoretically they should realize this is a great
opportunity to accelerate their careers and get ahead and yet they don’t see it
or they don’t care it’s frustrating but if you’re in that situation here are a
few tips to help you move forward do your best to maintain a positive
attitude if you go into every coaching session with a defeated attitude before
you start you’ll never generate any momentum assume you can help and that
what you say can make a difference try to suspend judgment maybe you have a
negative impression of the employee or you’ve heard reports about their
questionable behavior through the office grapevine as a coach your goal is to
prevent indirect feedback from clouding your judgment and the dedication you
have to your employees growth and development push yourself to give them
the benefit of the doubt always assume positive intent if it’s ambitious to
find an optimistic slant at least shoot for neutral it’s your job as a coach to
find the best and the person and coax it out which you can’t do effectively if
you’re viewing them through a negative lens to take full advantage of coaching
within your organization expect a few challenges and be prepared to overcome
them with some smart coping strategies you every leader brings their unique
personality to the coaching process but the most successful ones often follow
some proven guidelines an underlying model that guides them through their
regular interactions with a team members they coach one of those highly respected
models is from the center for creative leadership and it’s called
the racer model the framework consists of five elements relationship assessment
challenge support and results let’s take a closer look at those five steps for
successful coaching first invest in the relationship when you’re helping a coach
and develop someone you need to know them well enough to understand them to
build trust and also to define boundaries that requires establishing
and strengthening a relationship with each person you’re coaching that’s the
only way you can demonstrate your genuine interest in helping them learn
and grow second make an assessment of the
situation and the employees abilities as you build these relationships you need
to develop a clear understanding of your employees strengths weaknesses and
potential where do they shine where are their opportunities for improvement
within the organization where could they make the biggest contribution collect
the data you need to determine the direction of your coaching you can
gather some of this information by talking with your employees and
evaluating past performance reviews you may also want to talk with others who
have experience working closely with them or bring in some additional tools
like assessments or other types of career aptitude tests or performance
reports this is the stage when you make a game plan for their growth third
challenge their thinking and assumptions instead of providing all the answers ask
questions what would you do in this situation why would you choose that
course of action over this one what are the potential advantages of this
opportunity do you have alternatives ask what if and
push them out of their comfort zones using questions prompts employees to
explore different directions and find the best solutions on their own you’ll
help them to improve their strategic problem solving skills and possibly
discover ideas and concepts they never considered before fourth provide support
make sure that the people you are coaching have all the resources they
need to be successful I’m not talking about being an enabler or spoon feeding
them every step of the way but it is your job to help remove any
obstacles that might prevent them from reaching their goals as the manager you
likely have the connections and authority to get development options
approved to make introductions or suggest tools and resources that might
be of help to those you coach they still have to make the journey you just clear
the path finally focus on results accountability is critical as you coach
your team members make sure they can see the direct link between their individual
goals and those of the organization they need to understand how their daily tasks
fit into the bigger picture and feel like they make a real difference the
five steps in the Razr model relationship assessment challenge
support and results work together to form a straightforward framework that
can help leaders stay focused in their coaching by following this model in your
coaching efforts you can ultimately make a stronger impact on your employees and
your organization you another framework that helps leaders
bring structure to coaching for better results is called the crow model which
stands for goal reality options and will essentially this model compares the
coaching process with going on a journey deciding where you want to go and
understanding your starting point exploring different routes to your
destination and finally making a decision about the best path and getting
started now let’s explore some specifics of the four steps in the grow model
first establish the goal as the coach it’s your job to evaluate the potential
of your employees what skills do they need to incorporate to achieve their
goals on a broader scale what could they achieve if you effectively coach them
and they commit to the process 100% what would success look like how would that
be measured with your assistance the employee will ultimately determine the
goal for the process creating a powerful incentive if you relate this to using a
navigation system in your car the goal is the destination for the journey the
long term vision for success where do they want to end up second examine the
current reality think about this your GPS can’t give you directions unless it
knows your starting point what are your employees current
performance metrics are they exceeding standards or falling short what are
their skills and talents going back to our analogy where are your employees on
the road right now are they 20 miles from their final
destination or 200 miles this stage of the process is about honesty and
accuracy it involves facts not judgments strong coaches know how to make a
realistic assessment of the current situation bottom line they need to
precisely define the starting point for this journey and get agreement from the
employees on where things stand third explore the options once coaches
have helped their employees identify exactly where they are today and where
they want to go it’s time to guide them in determining the alternative routes on
a road trip you can choose the fastest route the most direct route or the
scenic route you have choices and your employees keep in mind it’s not
about giving them a specific answer but inspiring them to explore all the
different options prompt them to discover as many alternative courses of
actions as possible encourage them to get creative and think
about unusual ways to solve their problems with that said there are times
you will direct your employees by defining performance expectations
whether that might be required performance metrics or a maximum
allowable work errors accountability still drives the process finally
establish the will to act in this phase coaches propel their employees to
translate the discussion into a decision a commitment or will to make their way
forward choosing the best option and getting started at some point you have
to hit go on the GPS and begin the journey as employees move ahead coaches
can provide value by urging them to identify any potential roadblocks they
might encounter and proactively come up with a plan to get around them by
removing any obstacles in the way coaches can play an important role in
accelerating the journey towards success if you want to become more effective as
a coach consider following the four steps in the grow framework goal reality
options and will besides helping your employees to grow you will be adopting a
more targeted coaching approach that can deliver great results you think about coaching and you’re likely
to envision the football locker room players gathered around the loud
charismatic coach who is sharing a motivational message with the team that
common image paints the picture that coaching is all about speaking
forcefully and saying the right things the truth is one of the most important
coaching skills is listening active intense listening your communication
style is certainly important but great coaches in the business world improve
their impact with exceptional listening skills let’s be honest we all get
sidetracked by everything going on around us email notifications phones
ringing people walking by our office listening can be tough but strong
coaches work to overcome those distractions to help you coach more
effectively here are five strategies you can use to improve your listening skills
first listen on a deeper level great coaches know how to get team members
talking so they can assess their approaches not just their solutions but
how are they arrived at those solutions they listen for that information by
prompting them with open-ended questions like what options have you explored how
did you choose your final recommendation what results are you expecting coaches
who listened for the broader context can guide team members to make smart
decisions and improve their decision making skills for the future second be
patient with your listening this one takes some discipline before you start
with a coaching session try to get into the right mindset remind yourself that
their success is a shared success your position as a coach is to be on their
side to be their advocate and if need be their accountability system then give
your employee your full attention focus keep your head in the game
be patient for them to finish rather than cutting them off mid-sentence and
don’t jump in with advice or volunteer the answer
third demonstrate that you are actively listening while you work on being
patient and mentally engaged make sure your body language isn’t
sending a different message remove outside distractions that could
naturally divert your attention put away your phone move away from your computer
maybe hold the meeting in a different location make eye contact and try not to
fidget in your chair fourth clear up any confusion as you listen identify areas
that sound vague or contradictory ask for clarification sometimes you can
uncover critical information about the project or the process when you prompt
an employee to further explain a particular decision that may have been
glossed over finally summarize and paraphrase this is one of the best
incentives for coaches to listen for meaning and fully focus during their
time with team members at the end of a session you should provide a concise
summary of the conversation by paraphrasing what you heard the
employees say when you summarize the message you can confirm that you
understand their intent that you are on the same page and that you value their
thinking by following these five steps you can improve your listening style and
make a positive impact on your coaching process you think about times when you receive
positive feedback what did your leaders say and do how did it make you feel now
think about a time you received negative feedback where the words used to deliver
the message clear and without judgment did you take the feedback purposefully
not personally giving feedback to the people you coach can be very powerful
and it’s extremely important but many leaders don’t receive specific training
in this area beyond that there’s a wide range of coaching obstacles that can get
in the way to help you improve your feedback skills and your impact as a
coach here are five guidelines to follow first feedback should be specific
instead of saying something general like I’ve noticed that you tend to be
critical of your co-workers provide examples during the three o’clock
meeting yesterday you dismiss Shawn’s idea and it seemed like you were
uninterested in his perspective was that your intent don’t assume you know what
they’re thinking ask focus on observable actions sticking
to facts rather than rumors and make sure you link your feedback to a
specific outcome what’s the result of the behavior you are discussing I heard
great things about you from that client this morning that new weekly follow-up
strategy it’s working the employee changed behavior and the result is
greater client satisfaction be specific and highlight why the behavior matters
second feedback should be timely if it’s October and an employee has a huge win
or a behavioral problem that feedback shouldn’t wait until the March
performance review they need to know that you as the leader and coach notice
what’s going on either to celebrate with them or to guide them in making
immediate improvements don’t wait third feedback should be purposeful
whatever feedback you provide should be focused on helping the employees improve
grow or develop before you deliver suggestions or could
productive criticism ask yourself what’s the purpose of this information is it
relevant here could it make a difference in their performance or ability to reach
their goals by answering those questions before used to start providing feedback
you can frame your conversation in a way that feels helpful and targeted rather
than critical or petty for instance I’m sharing this with you because I know you
want to improve your sales numbers and I believe this is an important adjustment
that can help you do just that to employees that approach shows that you
care about them and their goals and want to help them which makes them listen to
your message in a very different way fourth feedback should be tactful it’s
never easy to deliver negative feedback but employees can’t improve if they
don’t know what needs to change remember to keep the emphasis on the problematic
behavior or situation rather than implying that someone is a bad person
keep your emotions in check and be careful with your word choices it also
helps if you try to start your sentences with I rather than you to minimize
defensiveness for example I’m concerned about the tone
you use with a client on the phone this morning that makes a completely
different impact than saying you are way too abrupt
finally feedback should be ongoing in a beneficial coaching relationship
feedback needs to be a regular part of your ongoing conversations it’s not a
one-time event as trust develops you should be able to offer real-time
feedback in formal and informal settings rather than only scheduled meetings the
best way for employees to grow is by having a coach who is tuned in and
paying close attention to their work someone who cares enough about their
success to speak up when they see performance that deserves a high-five or
an honest assessment of what went wrong when coaches consistently deliver
purposeful feedback that is specific timely and compassionate employees will
quickly develop the skills they need to accelerate their careers you many leaders who coach finally have a
real passion for motivating their employees helping them grow seeing them
more engaged and watching their careers advance but they often admit that the
goal-setting is the hardest part it feels like they’re interrupting all that
support and forward momentum with performance metrics and measurements
well that might seem that way it is important to remember that goal-setting
more specifically goal achieving is the bigger reason behind coaching the
coaching relationship always needs to be rooted in purpose to elevate the
employee skills improve their performance and prepare them for work at
a different level the quantifiable part is essential to pursue the goal-setting
function of coaching here are four strategies you can apply first let
employees participate in the goal-setting process if coaches just set
the goals without input employees may find it harder to commit to reaching
them the lack of control might even increase the negative sense of pressure
they experience if employees are involved in every aspect of goal-setting
they automatically feel a greater sense of responsibility for meeting those
goals they’re more engaged when they participate in determining what’s
possible setting interim deadlines and progressive objectives for the
short-term and long-term second connect individual goals to the big picture one
of the best ways to guide employees in setting and even exceeding goals is by
linking those directly to the goals of the department or company while there
are exceptions career development goals should also align with adding value to
the organization whatever they set out to do needs to make sense from a broader
perspective help them make that connection third keep the commitment
alive it’s tempting as a coach to finish the goal-setting part of the process and
leave that on the back burner until the next review but that ultimately
undermines the benefits of the coaching relationship to be effective in the role
coaches need to play close attention to the progress being made by employees are
they on track is anything getting in their way of
Gress keeping pace with your employees progress throughout the year gives the
coaches the opportunity to customize their conversations to help employees
integrate discoveries and to see the impact on their performance over time
with this kind of just-in-time coaching employees get the specific support they
need finally remain flexible with your
coaching goals situations change new opportunities emerge as the coach it’s
your job to determine when it might be sensible or even necessary to adjust
your employees goals rigid adherence to goals that for whatever reason have
become unrealistic or unattainable will only create stress and anxiety for
everyone involved with that said changing goal should be a
collaborative decision you want discussion and buy-in during that
process otherwise your employees will feel like they’re constantly chasing a
moving target when you take a positive and strategic approach to goal-setting
you can transform the way your employees think about their commitment to the
organization dramatically increasing their engagement and performance as well
as their potential to contribute at a higher level throughout their careers you

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