December 15, 2016
With effective coaching strategies and team building through leadership, you can help employees reach their full potential. A coach brings the right people on board and develops them continually so that they do their jobs well all the time. Think in terms of baseball, football, or volleyball coaches. They recruit the right people, assess training and development needs, and work to improve the skills of all. You’re a coach in just the same way.
As a coach, one of your jobs is to hire top staff. Then, if at any point your employees lack the skills needed to do their jobs well, your job is to train them. Analyzing training needs is, in fact, an ongoing responsibility, since skill needs change as the demands of the workplace change. You also need to ensure that team members understand your organization’s values and mission.
One belief critical to coaching is that employees like to do a good job and want to get positive feedback and encouragement. Sitting down with an employee to discuss his or her recent efforts won’t be demoralizing. If it’s done tactfully, you can move the individual to the point where he can do a good job and, consequently, get the positive feedback he wants.
Taking on the coaching role
Coaching is something you begin on an employee’s first day, when you discuss the individual’s responsibilities, your expectations, the unit’s role in the bigger corporate picture, and the company’s mission and strategy. Thereafter, schedule to meet with the employee one-on-one at least once a month.
Many managers argue they don’t have the time to coach every employee on a regular basis. However, ask yourself, “What will it cost in time or money if my employees don’t have a clear view of operating priorities or plans, or lack critical skills, or are encountering problems that impede progress?” The cost in time and money will be considerably more than the time you’d spend in coaching. Coaching is preventative maintenance.
If an employee needs to learn a new skill, you might want to both tell and show the person what to do. As the employee is learning, you should be there as his or her personal cheerleader. This assumes that you believe the individual can handle the job. If you have some doubts, offer further training. Effective coaches don’t leave employees to sink or swim. They recognize that there is a learning curve and make a point to help their employees who are on it.
How should you coach employees?
Question employees about work in progress. Give feedback. There is no such thing as too much feedback about job performance. Praise for a job well done reinforces that behavior and increases the likelihood of its continuation. Suggestions for improvement tell employees you think they’re capable of doing better.
Should you see any problems, ask open-ended questions, such as “What’s keeping you from doing an even better job than you are now?” or “Is there anything we need to talk about?” And, most important, “How can I help you?” Once you’ve developed the knack of asking such questions in a nonthreatening way, you should be able to uncover problems that may not otherwise come to light.
Besides being a skilled listener, you should be alert to what’s happening on the plant, service, or office floor. Discuss what you observe with employees. Jot down casual comments or follow-up thoughts you can discuss during one-on-one meetings with team members each month.