For those of you that have children, you have no doubt experienced the effect a good or bad coach has on your child’s success in sports. I have had my kids refuse to participate on certain teams just based on who was coaching. I watched my one son flourish because one of his swim coaches really knew how to connect with him and bring the best out of him. When he moved away, it took a year for my son to adjust to a new coach.
So how are you doing as coach for your team? Jim Collins has taught us to get the right people on the bus and then find the right seats for them. Good advice, although once there, how do we retain these “A” players and help them maximize their potential?
"A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are."
- Ara Parasheghian
As a leader in an organization, one of the most important parts of your job is to actively spend time growing your people. We encourage the use of job scorecards, and I know many of our clients use them. One thing I do not see on them often is a category for coaching. Years ago, I had an outside consultant help me create a job profile for my leadership position. We created five categories where I should be spending my time and assigned a percentage to each one. We determined that to improve the strength of my team, I needed to spend twenty percent of my time coaching individuals. Think about that – one out of five days in a week. That is a lot of time. How much time are you spending coaching your team?
There are many ways to go about coaching. How you do it will depend on your style and the individual you are working with. I have used surveys that have the option for converting them into coaching handbooks. You might springboard off the annual or bi-annual review to help the individual reach their personal goals in the company. It may be allocating time to work on a project. The key is to set time aside each week for each individual that reports to you. You can ask them what they want to work on and develop a roadmap accordingly.
Set the right tone. Be careful not to tell, but instead ask a lot of “what” and “how” questions. Understand the needs of the individual you are coaching and what motivates him or her. Work to build trust so the coaching relationship is open and relaxed.
Here is a five step process I learned years ago along with some questions that you may find useful:
1. Establish Focus:
- What would you like to focus on today?
- What do you need most for yourself?
- Of the issues you are dealing with, what is your top priority?
- What is one thing you want to change?
2. Discover Possibilities:
- What outcome do you want?
- What have you already tried?
- That is one option, what is another?
- What does success look like for you?
3. Plan the Action:
- What needs to happen?
- How will these actions contribute to achieving your goal?
- What do you need to do to reach your goal?
- Who else do you need to involve to be successful?
4. Remove Barriers:
- What resources do you need?
- What are the roadblocks you expect or know about?
- What is missing?
- Are the deadlines feasible?
5. Recap and next steps:
- What did you learn today?
- What do you plan to have happen next week?
- What additional action items do you need to create?
- Who else needs to be involved?
- When would you like to schedule our next meeting?
Process and questions adapted from Corporate Coach U, 2001.
You can alter the questions to meet your needs or develop your own framework. The key is to ask open-ended questions that promote thought and conversation without solving the individual’s issues. You can use our People Performance Coaching tool to set clear goals and stay accountable to your coaching sessions.
"Make no mistake, as you change your leadership style to one of a coach you will face challenges. There will be times when you question why am I doing this. However, you must at all times keep the long term benefits of being a coach at the forefront of your mind."
- Byron & Catherine Pulsifer, from Challenges in Adopting a Coaching Style
Spending time on long-term development is beneficial for the individual as well of the succession of the organization. It is also very rewarding to help others grow and reach their potential. Look at how you are spending your time. Ask yourself how much time you are dedicating to coaching your team.
Good luck, and help someone flourish today, Alan