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Four steps to good coaching

Tuesday November 25th, 2014

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes

If you want to be a coach, you have a lot of options – life coach, business coach, project coach and sports coach to name a few.  Even if your goal is not coaching, you may have already filled the position.  If you’ve ever helped an employee identify and solve a problem or develop their skills, you’re a coach.

Coaching is not managing (making sure people do what they know how to do), training (teaching people how to do it) or mentoring (showing how someone does something they’re really good at).  Coaching not only identifies the person’s skills and capabilities, letting them use them to the best of their ability, but addresses performance issues, along with a plan for resolution and improvement.

Regardless of the coaching position you’re in, remember that you’re dealing with people - baby boomer or millennial, gender or location - who have the same needs:  to be informed, have their opinions matter, be involved in the process that affects change or improvement and be acknowledged for their efforts.

Here’s four steps to be a good coach:

Identify the problem   Once the issue has been determined, focus should be on the problem, not the person.  The reason for change should be clearly described – where the problem is at now and where it should be.

Brainstorm   When discussing the problem with the employee, identify and agree on the root cause.  Draw the employee in by asking open-ended questions such as, What do you think caused this?  What did you see? How do you think this could be avoided?  Explain how the problem affects the company, from production to co-workers to job security, even promotions.

You’ll also want to address any barriers to eliminating the problem.  Is more training needed?  Does time need to be scheduled to work on the problem?  Does the employee have the tools or resources they need?

In conclusion, restate what you heard and confirm your employee understands the same thing and agrees.  Don't proceed until you and the employee agree.  Once the employee commits to working on the problem, let the employee know you are confident it will be resolved.

Make a plan   It goes without saying that the discussion should be documented with a written action plan.  The plan should list the problem, what the employee is committed to do, what will resolve the problem and consequences for both success and failure.  Ideally, the resolution can be measured or clearly observed. For example, fewer errors or an obvious change in attitude to do the job correctly.  A plan will hold the employee accountable for the agreed upon goal.

Follow up/acknowledgement   Your written plan should include a date for review and follow up.  In the follow-up meeting, provide positive feedback on the employee’s progress.  Recognize the steps they’ve taken to correct the problem and encourage the employee to continue.  Show that you appreciate them, as well as the improvements they are making.

Coaches that guide employees to discover solutions to problems, utilize their talents to the fullest and discover and develop new skills, make good employees more motivated and less likely to leave.  Coached employees tend to turn jobs into careers.

While coaching may be a lot of work and time consuming, raising the level of performance in the workplace is a true benefit to the company.  Having a coaching plan and procedure in place just may retain your good workers and reduce your search for talent.