We often hear about the need to coach our employees for improved performance; but what does that actually mean?
To better understand coaching; think about the coach of a sports team or a professional singing coach. Coaching is not ‘soft and fluffy’ – it is a method by which individuals or teams are able to reach peak performance – and it can be hard work! It often means reviewing what went wrong, finding ways to ensure mistakes are not repeated and pushing through belief systems that may be impeding progress. Coaching for performance in the workplace is really no different than coaching in other environments.
The biggest problem I’ve seen in coaching for performance in the workplace is the dread of any conversations that have anything to do with what may be perceived as negative. I think this is because we forget the fact that our intention should be to ‘coach’.
Look at it this way – If you had little Johnny playing hockey – wouldn’t you expect to see continual growth and improvement in his skills? If you didn’t, what would your impression of the coach be?
When you think in terms of coaching, be sure that both you and the recipient are clear on the goals you wish to accomplish.
- Be specific.
- Clarify current state.
- Spell out the expectations in terms of what kind of improvements you wish to see.
- Be sure to have timelines attached.
- Help the person being coached to understand his/her part.
- Give and receive feedback – feedback and more feedback.
Another thing to remember if you are coaching someone is to communicate that it’s safe to make some mistakes. Mistakes are really just experiences – and it is primarily through experience that we learn and grow.
Coaching has grown significantly in recent years because it works.
This is a skill that is well-worth developing – regardless of what level you are in your company. In today’s world, change is a constant and helping your people to perform at their best is crucial to your success.
If you manage people – learn how to coach effectively – and I assure you – coaching for improved performance will take on an entirely different meaning.