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Get Ready to Coach

Sooner or later you will have to learn how to coach.  Coaching is on the rise and traditional management is on its way out in today’s workplace. Coaching has been found to be more effective in handling the innovative and change-filled business challenges that are present in today’s world. Sure, traditional management has been effective in the past and still is in certain environments. However, traditional management is met with resistance by today’s workforce, especially generation X and Y, who wants a manager to take an interest in their development, is willing to listen to them, and acknowledge their ideas.

What is the definition of a coach? A coach is someone who helps others master current skills; and learn new ones, with the ultimate goal to develop greater competence and confidence. 

Coaching, unlike traditional management, takes into account the need for their team to buy into the performance goals. Instead of dictating the goals to the team members, an effective coach uses motivation and challenges to bring about the desired results along with developing an employee to prepare them for various assignments. Coaching builds a fundamentally different relationship where the coach and employee work together to achieve a common purpose. At its best, coaching is a partnership.

What are the responsibilities of an effective coach?

  • Develop and communicate the team’s goals, direction, mission and values
  • Make sure every member of their team knows their role and responsibilities so there is absolutely no confusion as to who does what
  • Provide ongoing encouragement and motivation to create a high performance environment

There are a number of different and very good coaching models in the marketplace today. HRDQ, a leading provider of well researched training products, uses a Coaching Process Model that focuses on what successful coaches do that result in improved performance and the growth of others. The model focuses on five competencies vital to encouraging productive dialogue and building a strong trusting relationship between the coach and team members.

Establishing Rapport is the first step toward creating an environment for successful coaching to occur. When building rapport, the coach strives to “connect” with an individual and get to know him or her better. This is not a one-time event but an on-going process. The result is a strong relationship built on open communication, mutual understanding, and trust. When an employee trusts their manager it helps create a “comfort zone” to express their opinions without the fear of being judged, and feedback is much more likely to be appreciated and accepted.

Effective coaches today are excellent at Observation and Analyzing Performance. They can scan the environment for external variables that may be affecting performance. Today there is data available on everything. This data can be made accessible to a manger to measure performance, and strong coaches know how to analyze data and make necessary changes with their employees. By observing and analyzing, coaches can gain valuable information and create a balanced picture on what needs to change.

Effective coaches use a variety of Questioning and Listening techniques to elicit information and encourage people to share their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Good coaching questions generate awareness; stimulate learning, and raise self-responsibility- not defensiveness.

For example; Player misses a pitch, an untrained coach asks, “Why were you not watching the ball?” while a trained coach might ask, “Which way was the ball curving when it came over the plate?”

Effective coaches are masters at listening because they genuinely care about helping others, and most important, they know they do not have all the answers so they listen with curiosity and an open mind.

Excellent coaches know how and when to give Feedback both positive and constructive. They look for opportunities to give positive feedback that is specific so the person will maintain the desired behavior or skill. And when it is necessary to give constructive feedback coaches do it with consideration and respect.  

Also, coaches know how to Facilitate Learning by providing the resources, encouragement, and support employees need to solve problems and make decisions. They realize people make mistakes and it is a part of the learning process. When employees know their manager has their back they are more willing to take calculated risks, think creatively, try new approaches, and be open to different alternatives. And when coaches facilitate learning they themselves grow, improve, and learn new things and approaches that create an environment that fosters innovation and creativity.

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