Coaching someone entails both connection and direction.
Do you ever feel like a team member needs to perform better? It’s likely your team member feels it as well. They too, are frustrated by their lack of success and doubt whether they are good enough to do the job. Beyond the disappointment, when team members don’t sense they have someone in their corner to help them improve they feel alone, disconnected, and unengaged.
The remedy is for managers to start acting like a coach. However, most managers default to typical management activities instead of a leadership activity like coaching.
Ray Smith said, “to create a high-performance team, we must replace typical management activities like supervising, checking, monitoring, and controlling with new behaviors like coaching and communication.”
Not only is Smith correct, but he also exposes a drastic shift managers must make in today’s workplace around helping their employees thrive.
What is Coaching?
Research shows that 84% of employees want better coaching from their boss. As staggering as that statistic is, it means most people need to upgrade their coaching skills. Contrary to popular belief, being an effective coach isn’t something you are born with. Coaching is a skill that leaders work to develop and master. To ensure we are on the same page, the definition of coaching we use in the Coaching for Excellence workshop is as follows:
Improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence.
This definition is important because the vast majority of people are only going to go to the point where they get uncomfortable then they are going to stop. We often need someone else to help us raise our game and reach the next level. Said differently:
Someone else’s success tomorrow requires your best coaching today.
Why Managers Don’t Coach
There isn’t a lack of information or knowledge in the workplace; there is a lack of managers unable or willing to help others acquire and apply it. The lack of coaching is the leading cause of underperformance in the workplace. Unfortunately, too many managers think it’s not their job to coach.
A lack of coaching is the leading cause of underperformance in the workplace.
There are all kinds of reasons managers don’t correctly coach people.
- Limited Time
- Too Many Direct Reports
- Lack of Skill or the Correct Mindset
- Conflicting Priorities
- Shortage of Interactions or Opportunities Due to Remote Work
All of these are legitimate reasons a manager doesn’t properly coach people, but they don’t excuse the fact that’s a requirement of the job. Every leader in the world is responsible for two things, at a minimum, recruiting and coaching.
Coaching isn’t something you can pawn off on Human Resources or hope a development program flies in to save your lack of coaching skills. Anything a Learning and Development team does to support employee development is essential and needed, but it’s not a replacement for coaching.
If you are looking for tactics and strategies to develop your coaching skills as a leader, here are three proven ways:
Tactic 1: Establish who you will help achieve higher levels of excellence
Too often, we consider coaching a high-level objective, but coaching is meant to be personalized. Someone’s best performance tomorrow requires personalized coaching today. So decide in advance who you will coach to trigger your future actions.
Write down the first and last name of who you will help achieve higher levels of excellence.
Tactic 2: Define when you coach them to achieve higher levels of excellence
For you, it might be…
- Holding group skill-building sessions weekly
- Scheduling one-on-one arranged sessions
- Sending educational content weekly
- Delivering constructive feedback in the moment of application
- Establishing development plans
Whatever it is, be clear about when you’re going to help others acquire more knowledge or refine their skills. Coaching can be an abstract activity and skill that varies in consistency. Since the positive outcomes of coaching might not show up immediately, the consistency of your efforts is essential.
Tactic 3: Detach yourself from the outcome
You can’t choose change for anyone else. The more you try and claim the change for someone else, the further away you get from leading them well. They must learn by doing. They must learn by failing. They must learn how to apply under pressure.
Something is gratifying in the first attempts when the trial is greater than the desire. The reason is that regardless of your level of success; everyone has been in that position before. So be patient and provide people the space to develop.
Coaching others well isn’t about guaranteeing the results. It’s about guiding their path and being a light to see unforeseen obstacles. Ultimately, you will only be a small part of their future success, so do your best to detach yourself from the outcome.
Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.
Coaching for Excellence Workshop Ready to take your coaching skills to the next level? Register for the upcoming Coaching for Excellence Program.
About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.