No team gets to greatness without an effective coach. However leading a team takes more than just claiming to be a good coach and what is required can be more daunting than most want to admit.
In fact, The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE) conducted research that clearly shows that when it comes to coaching, the vast majority of managers are better at talking about it than doing it. This helps explain, at least in part, why so many organizations have problems sustaining change.
If the bad news is that most managers have some distance to go to become effective coaches, the good news is that coaching is a skill that can be learned. In fact, coaching is actually a process that can be taught, practiced, and improved over time.
Embedding change into an organization requires mindsets to change, and one's mindset is more likely to change when managers are effective coaches. The bottom line is that good coaching skills, at all levels of management, are critical for sustaining change.
There are many coaching models out there; the most effective model I’ve seen for organizations is described below.
There are two concentric circles with the outer circle representing the work that the leader must do before they even enter the coaching conversation and the inner circle represents the flow of the actual coaching conversation.
First let’s look at the outer circle. There is one question and three assumptions in the outer ring that must be thought through prior to entering the coaching conversation.
- I AM FOR YOU: Can I actually coach this person?
- YOUR SUCCESS: Business goals are aligned with the organizational needs.
- YOU CARE: You are truly committed to the process.
- YOU ARE ABLE: You must have the authority and ability to influence change.
The inner circle is about the conversation. It’s simple and to the point and that’s what I like about it.
Four-steps to a successful conversation.
- Clarify the gap: Effective coaches take the time to clarify the gap before moving on. It is crucial to discuss the employee’s perspective on the gap as well as yours along with any other perspective you may have. They also know that clarifying the needs is critical.
- Impact thinking: We all need new perspective at times. A good coach will figure out which approach will be the most effective in impacting the other’s thinking whether it is using “putting the shoe on the other foot” approach, giving them a broader perspective, informing them of information they don’t have, challenging a paradigm, etc. It is always helpful to know the other’s perspective so you as the coach can help them bridge the gap from their perspective to yours. Although remember that coaching is dynamic and it may be your perspective that might change through the coaching conversation.
- Create the plan: You will know you’ve impacted the employee’s thinking when they create the plan. Resist the temptation to create the plan for them. This gives the employee the opportunity to contribute to its creation, increasing the likelihood that they will follow through on the commitments they make.
- Follow up: If your coaching has been effective you won’t need to follow up for effectiveness. However, at times it may take several discussions to impact their thinking. Whether it’s to praise and encourage or to challenge, don’t allow your coaching go to waste by not following up.
Harry Levinson, Harvard Professor and Director of the Levinson Institute, said, "Coaching and counseling are the most uncomfortable, avoided, and mishandled of all leadership responsibilities. It is good to know that regardless of how skilled you are in your coaching technique or how well you can articulate and navigate the above four steps, if you practice the following three things you can be highly effective.
Courageous: Many leaders avoid most issues because they lack the courage to even have the conversation. Coaching effectiveness if first and foremost affected by your ability to put the issue on the table with the employee. Not all issues need addressed but have the courage to put the ones that count on the table.
Support: People have to know that you have good intentions before they will be open to your influence. In fact, your influences will be directly tied to your level of trust, credibility, and respect (TCR) that the other person has for you. The only way you grow your TCR is through real tangible partnership-level support.
Authenticity: People know when someone is being authentic and when they are not. People are very grateful when other are open and honest with them. You will gain significant influence with others when you will have the courage to be authentic in a supportive way.
Good coaching doesn't result in optimal results every time. Think of your favorite coach, are they leading a team to the Super Bowl this weekend?