All of us have experienced coaching in some form, it could have been via a sports coach, business coach or a boss. Coaching has become a popular career for many individuals, wanting to strike out on their own. I first learnt the power of coaching about 25 years ago and witnessed how coaching helped frontline team members improve their performance immediately. I knew that teaching others how to coach was going to be my passion from then onwards.
So what is the definition of coaching? There are many but here’s one that I really like:
A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has to see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always known you could be. Tom Landry
The power of coaching comes through observation and then identifying areas that a team member could improve on. Often the team member has no idea they need to improve, so they won’t be able to without a coach identifying the issue and then providing feedback. I have witnessed so many times when helping managers to coach on the job, team members say “I didn’t realise I wasn’t doing that”. How can a team member improve if they don’t know what they need to improve on?
The ability to provide feedback that challenges the recipient to improve is another key skill of a coach. This feedback needs to be done in such a way that the recipient is made aware of the issue, provides their own solution and buys into improving. Too many times I hear managers providing solutions to problems, rather than getting the team member involved in coming up with the answer. I know it’s quicker to tell them how to fix the issue but it results in a lot less buy in and we have no idea whether the team member has understood our message.
My challenge to all managers is they need to spend more time observing their team members interacting with customers and providing regular feedback, particularly positive feedback when they get it right. Of course, if the team member needs to improve, this conversation also needs to take place, but in such a way the team member is empowered to improve.
If this was happening more consistently, the result would be very powerful – happier team members and this flows through to happier customers.