Coaching can undoubtedly give great results but when it’s embraced as part of an organisation’s culture, performance can soar. So how do you make it part and parcel of the culture?
Evidence proves that line managers are pivotal in motivating, inspiring and engaging their teams to perform, so it makes sense to help them invest in this vital role. Being a Coach is one of the key roles I believe managers need to embrace in order to unlock the best performance from others – and help keep them there.
That’s because the role of Coach has a lasting influence well beyond each input of coaching: it can help keep employees willing to deliver even when change and uncertainty throws them a new set of challenges. It’s this willingness and agility to keep performing, no matter what, that sets great cultures apart from good cultures – and the impact is rewarded all the way to the bottom line.
But let’s be realistic: being a coach is a tough call for those managers who are mainly used to be held to account for performance metrics and targets. It can also be a pretty terrifying prospect if they don’t feel they have the confidence and expertise to do it!
Formal coaching and qualifications are one thing, but what I’m talking about is the daily, consistent actions that managers can commit to in order to engage their people to perform. Coaching is about building a culture that says we recognise just how important it is that people can learn from each other, learn from the things they find hard, easy, motivating, draining or challenging.
But it takes commitment: it needs to be role-modelled by leaders and managers who believe in its worth by showing they do it.
Coaching for performance
All too often, managers rush off to their next meeting without sparing a few minutes to give some insightful feedback to a team member, coaching slots are squeezed into transactional discussions about day-to-day operations and coaching appointments are postponed or cancelled in order to accommodate an urgent client request. The result is, at best, a vanilla conversation about what’s going on with no clear purpose and outcome. For both parties involved, it can be a frustrating experience that ultimately leaves both sides less convinced of the investment they have both made.
Raising the stakes
If you want managers to raise the stakes and get coaching delivering for them as well as their people, encourage them to do the following;
- Think about the needs of those they’re coaching first and then formulate their session around them. E.g, are they struggling with their confidence, do they need more experience in something specific or are they struggling with an overloaded work/life balance? Give clear objectives for what you’ve both agreed as a key focus for them until the next session. For example, if they want to improve their time management ask them how they will actively ensure this is improved.
- The end of the coaching session isn’t the end of your input. Look out for signs and feedback that they are taking action. You don’t have to wait until the next coaching session to tell them what you noticed or heard! Picking up the phone and congratulating them for a great report, for example, shows you’ve noticed and it helps build an active coaching relationship between you.
- If coaching sessions are tough to diarise, make the most of informal opportunities to offer some insight to their performance. For example, driving back from a meeting or walking back together from the canteen can be a great opportunity to have a ‘wash-up’ style conversation about what went well or not so well.
- Don’t be the genie in the bottle: your role as Coach is not to give the answers and grant the solutions but rather to ask, guide and lead people to their own conclusions and ideas about what they need or want to do. It’s about asking, not telling – and helping others to build their own approach to dealing with challenges or setbacks.
Unlocking what make’s someone’s heart beat a little faster
But perhaps the most important element when it comes to Coaching is asking our managers how well they really know their people. It’s only when we dig deep to really explore what makes someone’s heart beat a faster can we hope to unlock that extra purpose and meaning that inspires them to perform. And once you know how to engage someone to perform, amazing results follow…
**You can hear Jane speak in-depth on the subject of How to create a coaching culture on Wednesday 1st October at the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition at the NEC.**
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