Ten Top Tips for Coaching

There are a number of theories that require you to continually adapt your management style to take account of the different needs of each team member who are all at different points in their own personal development. That can be hard to do. The best default is to adopt a coaching style because it works for everyone from newbies to world class superheroes. Here are some top tips on Coaching from my 40 years in management:

  1. Praise what is going well. Even the worst performer in your team is doing something right and needs encouragement and support. If they aren’t then you need to be in a more formal process where coaching is not appropriate. It’s good to start a coaching conversation on a positive note.
  2.  Set failures in context. If the person being coached is already achieving a good standard but has areas where they could do better then make sure they understand this. They need to appreciate the relative importance of improving their performance in the areas under discussion. 
  3. Find out why things aren’t working right by asking lots of questions. You job is to help the coachee to work out what they are doing wrong not to tell them. Listen vigorously to their responses and ask more questions as you explore skills, knowledge and behavioural issues. 
  4. Review the benefits of improvement in lower achieving areas by discussing the consequences of success. Link these ideas to the bigger picture to show how individual effort can make a difference.  Challenge any assumptions being made that limit their ability to affect results. 
  5. Agree an improvement plan that will deliver a better performance by creating a contract with the coachee. Ask what support they would need from you. Often all they want is for you to listen and give feedback but sometimes more practical help is required.
  6. Suggest a simple first step that will build confidence and prove that the change is achievable. Help them to identify an opportunity to put the change into practice as soon as possible.This mustn’t be a daunting thing but something practical to motivate further effort. 
  7. Show respect and encouragement throughout the coaching session. Coaching should be a supportive conversation between adults not a parent to child lecture. People who have been coached well respond positively to the way they have been treated. 
  8. Set targets and agree when you will review progress against them.  All performance improvement requires some form of measurement protocol with a baseline and a goal set against a timeline for change. Wherever possible make these measures objective not subjective. 
  9. Personal gains for the coachee are important. You have to help them to see what’s in it for them. It might be less stress, or personal satisfaction or it could be career enhancement and a bonus. You won’t achieve sustainable improvement if all the gain is on the side of the company. 
  10. Recognise and praise achievement at the end of the session again and in the weeks going forward. Positive appreciation delivers a much greater return in the motivation stakes than fear of criticism. Carrots alway work better than sticks

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