Most leaders say that coaching is an important part of their role in developing staff. Few, however, find the time to do it well. Yet, employees of all ages and performance levels say they want more coaching from leaders they respect. Through feedback and advice giving they hope to learn how to become better at their work and advance their careers. Leaders often think of coaching in a limited way – as a joint problem solving session held with individuals to discuss their concerns or performance issues. Expand your coaching repertoire by using the following methods most certain to give your staff a developmental boost.
Before staff members engage in important activities, set-up a time for them to rehearse what they will do and say, followed by your feedback. Use this strategy before significant presentations, client contacts, and difficult interactions. Doing this sets the stage for success by providing guidance before the event occurs. Remember to give feedback that is descriptive, not judgmental, focusing on helpful suggestions, i.e. Here’s what I noticed and here’s what I suggest you consider doing/saying differently. Reinforce what the coachee does well. End the rehearsal with an action plan for what to change and what to maintain when going “live.”
Debrief Key Events
When staff members complete an important assignment, presentation, or challenging situation, take time to debrief. Ask a series of questions that will stimulate reflection: What do you think went well? In what ways could you have been more effective? What surprised you? What would you change if you could do it again? What has been your greatest learning from this experience? Make sure to reframe perceived “failure,” if the event went somewhat awry, as an opportunity to learn and get better. Encourage your coachee to keep a record of the debriefing to reference when similar events come up in the future.
Create Group Learning Opportunities
Not all coaching needs to be done one on one. Hold informal training sessions with staff members to review business situations, talk about customer service approaches, or address any topic of importance to the organization where new learning is required. Consider having them read a case or article before the session to stimulate their thinking about the topic. Keep the focus on how key ideas will translate to doing their work in a better or different way. Or, focus on learning more about the organization; i.e. financial analysis or long-term strategy. Stimulate coachees learning from one another through sharing their approaches and experiences.
While coaching has been a trendy topic in the leadership literature, when done in a manner that focuses on the organization’s performance targets, it is an essential, timeless skill for effective leadership. Integrate these coaching approaches into your leadership style to promote high impact staff development, engagement, and performance improvement.