The definition of the word “coach” can vary dramatically depending on the context in which it is being used. Take a quick look at some synonyms for the word coach: Instruct, teach, tutor, school, educate, train, mentor, prepare, ready, direct. With so many possible approaches, it’s easy to see why some leaders are uncertain, unsuccessful, and frustrated about coaching in the business world. The experience and resulting outcomes can be discouraging, especially when coachees fall short of their potential.
In a broad sense, business coaching is about employee development and performance. But more specifically, it’s about building a solid relationship and working with an individual to achieve positive results. The mark of an effective coach is one that helps others learn from their experiences and motivates them to maximize their performance. A great coach knows how to influence others by providing positive and courageous feedback and guidance. No matter how you currently approach coaching, you can take your skills to the next level by improving in any of these five key areas.
1. Trust & Respect
Successful relationships of all types are built on a foundation of trust and respect. Establishing trust opens up communication channels and minimizes confusion and fear. Showing respect shifts the focus away from you and lets a person know that they are a valued member of the team and their contributions are appreciated.
To build and maintain trust and respect with your coachee during a coaching conversation, offer support by maintaining eye contact, actively listening, and expressing your understanding of what they are saying. This will improve the quality of your conversation and will strengthen the coach/coachee relationship.
2. Expectations & Accountability
Giving feedback and guidance is important, but it is more effective if people understand what is expected of them and why. It is crucial to talk about expectations. If a person does not know what is expected, or don’t understand why, it is likely they will not produce the results you desire. This lack of communication and understanding can cause challenges for a leader when it comes to holding someone accountable.
When you clearly communicate your expectations, holding an individual accountable comes naturally. It also allows you to give praise and recognition when expectations are met as well as coach people in areas that caused them to fall short.
3. Communicate Impact
As mentioned previously, understanding the “why” behind the “ask” can make a huge difference in the receptiveness of a coachee. Communicating the impact helps create awareness of the need to change and can motivate an individual to perform better. Great coaches help people step back and assess the impact of their choices and actions.
You can help your coachee understand the impact of their actions by sharing your knowledge and insight about how they are affecting the customers, team members, products, and company goals.
4. Gain Commitment
It’s natural to offer your suggestions for improvement and ideas about development opportunities during a coaching conversation. However, to truly gain a commitment from someone, he or she must have a sense of ownership and feel involved in coming up with a solution. The coach and coachee should work together to design the plan and agree on how and when to take action.
One of the best ways you can start this process is to ask your coachee what ideas or solutions he or she has about how to create a better result. Collaborate on a plan, come to an agreement, and then ask for a clear commitment based on the coachee’s genuine buy-in. Remember, not only do people need to know exactly what is expected of them, they also need to agree to meet those expectations.
5. Follow up
Once a coachee is clearly committed to taking action, the coach must make sure he or she doesn’t drop the ball. Yes, it is an individual’s job to make the agreed upon changes, but it is a coach’s responsibility to follow up with the coachee on the agreements that were made. Having a specific plan for follow-up allows the coach to monitor results and progress, as well as work with the coachee to modify the plan if needed.
Following up with your coachee is a critical part of the process because if you don’t, the relationship will suffer. Lack of follow-through on the part of the coachee and follow-up by the coach impacts trust and respect and greatly reduces the chances that any plan will be successful.
The role of a coach in the business world can sometimes seem complicated, but when a leader incorporates these five areas of focus into his or her coaching approach, the results can be astounding. Instead of uncertainty, both the coach and coachee have a clear vision of what needs to happen to improve performance; instead of frustration, leaders and individual contributors experience the power of having a successful coaching relationship.