5 keys to effective performance coaching

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Coaching is an effective means of developing and stretching your high performers.

As the manager, you also benefit by having more proactive, self-reliant, confident, motivated staff to whom you can delegate more.

For coaching to be successful, you must believe that the coachee "has the answer within them". Your job (as coach) is to ask powerful questions and guide them on a structured conversation that challenges them and leads to their "ah ha!" moment. 

Here's five key principles to keep in mind when coaching:

1) Clearly articulate the goal

The team member must be clear on what outcome you expect. That means you (the manager) must be clear! Working toward a vague goal is frustrating and painful for all.

Get them to restate the goal to you in their own language to check for understanding.

2) Make sure they know you'll be coaching them

If your normal style is somewhat different, make sure they know that on this piece of work, you'll be acting as coach. Make sure they know why you think coaching is appropriate here.

Be clear about how often you'll meet and how those sessions will be structured.

3) Don't tell them how to do it

You need to specify the outcome that's required and then give the team member flexibility in how they get there

Your questions can probe areas of concern in an open way e.g. "What will be the impact on other teams?", "What other options do you have?" but you must let the coachee make the decisions.

4) Coaching is not for everyone or everything

Coaching isn't a panacea or cure-all. As a manager-coach, you need to carefully choose the times when you will act as coach. The following probably aren't good opportunities to coach:

  • If time is very limited, you may have to be prescriptive to get the work done in time.
  • If the project is critical, you may need to be personally involved. 
  • If someone is brand new, coaching is probably not appropriate. They will need specific guidance in order to complete the task. 

Use coaching for established, competent team members who are already performing at a high level.

5) Be aware of potential conflicts

Being manager and coach can be hard. As coach, you need to give the coachee space to discover their own way. That includes making mistakes. As manager, you want results. Fast. Be aware of this potential conflict and consider this when selecting the areas to coach in.

One way around this is to use external coaches or have managers coach others who are not in their team. 

Have you used coaching as a manager? What worked? What didn't work? Let me know below.