Special Issue on: Be a Coach

As my business turns towards assisting people to let go of their negative emotions and limiting decisions I find myself providing on words of encouragement and coaching to many. The work is gratifying and the results are positive. I would like to share with you some techniques, which I have found helpful for the people I have coached.

Coaching is about keeping people on track, catching them doing something right, maintaining their self-confidence and leading by example. The most important step in coaching people is getting them to agree there is a need for improvement. Without that, there is very little likelihood of any permanent change in the person.

Coaching should take place only after an individual understands clearly what the performance problem is and what is expected of them. Good coaches never wait for performance issues to become big problems. They respond firmly with early intervention using a positive, solutions-oriented approach.

The skillful coach constantly works to give constructive, specific feedback, either positive or negative, as close as possible to the time the behaviour occurred or was observed.

Coaching sends the message to all staff that their contribution is valued and that you are dedicated to their growth and development. Instruction is dependent upon having willing employees who want to overcome problems and develop their abilities.

Acknowledge and support progress, not perfection. The key is to address unacceptable performance before it develops into a pattern of behaviour.

Research has demonstrated that acknowledgement; recognition and support ranks high in return for the job people do, day after day. The simpler and more direct the recognition, the better.

Getting the best out of people and helping them to achieve their full potential is a product of how they are treated, encouraged and challenged. You must have a thorough knowledge of the work process involved.

People want to be recognized for doing something well. This validates their self-esteem and their confidence in doing a good job. Make your appreciation specific. Just saying, “You did a good job” does not really say much. Tell them how and why.

Do not just tell an employee you want them to improve, show them how. The job of improving poor performance is always a challenge, and it is the responsibility of the manager to properly train or re-train employees to ensure everyone are contributing toward the shared goal and objective of the organization.

If you do not act immediately to correct unacceptable behaviour, you are sending the message that poor performance will be tolerated. When individuals are not held accountable for their performance and behaviour, it has a measurable de-motivating effect on all the other employees.

There is only one thing worse than a trained employee who resigns, and that is the untrained employee who remains. To address poor performance, a good manager will identify what barriers or skills are lacking in the employee that stops them from doing their job efficiently. When an employee is not performing up to standard, clarify your expectations and develop an action plan that targets improvement.

The purpose of your feedback is to gain the employee’s agreement to change. People who agree to change, even unwillingly, are more likely to do so than those who are told they must. To accomplish this, discuss the improvement you would like to see.

Constructive feedback is issue-focused, information-specific, and is always based on observation. You can turn behaviour or performance problems into positive, motivational experiences by using constructive feedback. Tell them what circumstances must be changed, why the change must be made, and how they should go about it. Make enhancement and improvement your goal.

Use the Simple Feedback Sandwich technique:

Use often to recognize effort and help your employees grow. Use within five minutes of the event occurring.

  1. Tell them specifically what you saw and heard that you liked – positive detail.
  2. Next give them the feedback – what you would like them to add or do differently next time.
  3. Top it off with a general and positive comment.

Or use the Complex Feedback Sandwich technique:

Use to request a change of behaviour and for problem resolution.

  1. Tell them specifically what you saw and heard, giving a positive detail first.
  2. Listen to their response and acknowledge any emotion expressed through their words, their tone and the body language. “You think or you feel (feedback their own words.)
  3. Tell them how their behaviour affected you, their colleagues, the client, customer and organization. “When you do/do not do (the behaviour) I/others (give the unintended consequences).”
  4. Ask them what they could do differently next time. Use exploratory questions and lead them to discover their own solution.
  5. Ask how they are going to do it next time. Do they know how? Make sure you verify.
  6. Top off with a positive general comment about their over all performance.
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