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I travel all over the world to train, speak and advise. The majority of my business involves facilitating leadership development programs and coaching executives.
Here’s a compelling lesson I’ve learned from every major client and company I’ve worked with over the years: Most people in leadership positions never coach or develop their employees – ever.
I still struggle to understand why this is the case and why more leaders aren’t doing it. Here are six solid skills to help you become a better coach.
1. Explain why you coach.
When you agree to coach your team members, take the time to explain why you are coaching this person. Tell them that you are committed to developing all team members and that you will coach them regularly. The reason behind this is to help them get where they want to go and to help them grow and achieve their goals.
2. Coaching is for everyone.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be coached. I’ve had people say to me in my leadership programs, “Well, what about the receptionist? Are you saying I should coach him? The answer is yes! Each member of the team should have the chance to grow, to develop, to be better at what they do. They all have potential. They need someone to believe in them.
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3. Coaching should be tied to their goals.
The first step in coaching should be to ask people what their short, medium and long term goals are. Don’t be surprised if people tell you they don’t know what they want to be “when they grow up”. Having a discussion about goals and helping a team member define their goals can be a compelling discussion. It also shows that you really care about them and not just their functional role at work, but also their dreams and aspirations and how you can help them achieve them.
4. There are two types of coaching — don’t just do one.
In my experience, there are two types of coaching, corrective and developmental. Let’s define the fix first. Remedial coaching generally tries to coach someone on something that needs to change or is problematic. For example, if someone is usually late, they need advice on how to correct this problem.
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Development coaching is coaching someone to achieve their goals, helping them grow and developing new skills, knowledge, tools or techniques. Unfortunately, most leaders never do development coaching.
5. Coaching must take place.
I know it sounds a bit strange, but coaching has to happen. Once I worked with a manager for two years. Every week, my manager would say, “I should really work with you and give you some coaching. Of course, I was like, “That would be great.” I was looking forward to it and I was excited about it. But that never happened! I always say “prioritize and schedule”. It is an invented word but which means this; if you don’t make it a priority or put it on your calendar, we all know that never happens.
6. Understand the psychology of coaching.
When you coach, remember that you are coaching a human being and they come to the table with insecurities, ideas, feelings, and a story. This story leads them to have certain perceptions of coaching.
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Make sure that when you coach, especially during developmental coaching, you explain to this person that they are not struggling. In the beginning, you may get a reaction from people when you start coaching them, and they may ask, “Am I having problems? when you ask to meet them. They can be defensive. You have to reassure them. The sad reality is that many people had only met their boss when they were in trouble. They’ve never had a coach, just reprimands from their manager, sometimes throughout their careers.
Show your team that you are different. Make a commitment today to coach consistently to develop all of your employees.