One-on-one. It’s still the most effective and important coaching technique great leaders must possess. It inspires in others an internal drive to act ethically, without direction, to achieve their goals. Effective coaching drives performance, builds competence and confidence and, ultimately enhances relationships. The best coaches help people find ways to make things happen as opposed to creating excuses why they can’t.
Effective coaching also requires you to believe in yourself. You must believe you can have an impact in the workplace, and that you can inspire others to achieve goals they might not otherwise achieve. The real question is not if you will make a difference, but what difference you will make.
Respectful, transparent and regular face-to-face communication between you and your team breaks down barriers and builds trust. What you can see in a person’s eyes or other body language can be revealing. While technology can be effective at times, it will never replace human contact for discovery and inspiration.
The most impactful leaders are adept listeners and don’t allow their egos to become roadblocks. When egos are alive and well, listening ceases, effective coaching environments disappear, and organizations suffer.
So, if you’re ready, here are three recommendations that can help raise the bar on your ability to coach others:
1. Create a positive and open environment for communication
People listen to and follow leaders they trust. They engage in meaningful dialog with people they trust. They are not afraid to disagree with people they trust. Trust provides the foundation for a positive and open communication environment where connections between people can thrive.
When people connect, they learn about each other. They enable understanding of cultures, individual strengths and challenges. Knowing your people’s unique capabilities and desires helps focus on how to help them be successful.
Knowing your people also reduces the probability of promoting someone into a management position who does not want it or is not otherwise qualified. The costs can be exorbitant to an organization that wrongly promotes someone into a management position.
There are four questions that can help establish this open line of communication: What is on your mind? What can I do for you? What do you think? How am I making your life more difficult? When asked with the genuine interest, people respond with more honesty.
Meeting with your people regularly helps break down barriers. Not just in your office, but out in the company. Informal conversations can be wonderful enablers of opening the line of communication.
2. Establish agreed upon goals and strategies to achieve
Most people want to know what success looks like. They want to be clear in their goals as an individual and, if appropriate, a team leader. Well-defined, measurable, relevant goals on paper help people gain clarity of success. Assigning responsibility with authority helps inspire an individual’s commitment to be successful.
Success also includes adopting strategies to reach their goals. Strategies are developed and agreed upon by the manager and team member so that each understands the other’s roles. The probability of success increases dramatically when strategies and accountabilities are well defined.
The best coaches help people find ways to make things happen as opposed to creating excuses why they cannot.
3. Enforce accountability by assessing performance
There are many and significant consequences when people are not held accountable for achieving goals or otherwise performing to standard. Integrity disappears. Discipline erodes. Morale evaporates. Leaders are not taken seriously. Problem employees become a cancer in the organization. The best people leave. Results are not achieved.
Effective coaching demands assessment of performance. Without this assessment, no system of accountability will be achieved. If the senior leader does not hold his or her executive team accountable, subordinate leaders are likely to think “Why should I?”
Consistent, regularly scheduled coaching sessions with your people are the key to ensuring effective follow-up assessments to celebrate successes and identify areas to improve.