Last week we blogged about the benefits of hiring an executive coach and offered a tool for assessing whether you are ready for coaching. As you probably are aware, we believe strongly in the power of coaching as a tool for achieving your goals, going for what you want, and being an even better you. Who wouldn’t benefit from that?!
If that sounds like something you want for your employees and your organization, then consider adopting these principles of coaching as THE way to manage and lead throughout your organization. What would that mean to your employees?
Coaching skills, simply put, center around building a trusting relationship and developing fruitful two-way communication. By incorporating the following principles of coaching into your leadership repertoire, you can reap the rewards of a stronger and more effective work group:
- Observing – In order to offer feedback, direct, and support the person you are coaching, it is essential to see him or her in action. Attending meetings, creating opportunities for him or her to present, observing their interactions with others – all help you to see behavioral patterns, and notice what is working and not working in their interactions. If you work remotely and are unable to observe firsthand, then the next best thing is to gather feedback and observational data from others who can provide reliable information.
- Listening – This is a key ingredient to good coaching. In your coaching interactions, listening is more important than talking. You want to draw out your employee’s perspectives, feelings, and personal observations in order to help them find the answers that work best. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, or advisement – and the goal is not to tell the person you are coaching what to do but rather to help them identify their own answer and solution so that they can learn from their experiences and build confidence in their own abilities.
- Questioning – This principle ties in very closely to listening. Knowing how to ask a great and powerful coaching question can open up new avenues to those you coach. Questions should be open-ended and framed to open up thinking and possible solutions.
- Giving/receiving feedback – At the heart of coaching is the developmental feedback everyone needs in order to perform well in their jobs and take on more challenging and enriching assignments. Providing specific, timely, and behavior-based feedback will make it possible for those you are coaching to understand expectations, modify their behavior, develop needed skills and knowledge, and achieve success. At the same time, receiving feedback from those you are coaching will help you to know how well the coaching is working, what more they may need from you, and what new goals they may want to focus on.
- Getting agreement – Coaching is a two-way process, and it calls for being clear and open in your conversations. Every coaching conversation should end with agreement – What are the next steps? What are the deliverables or commitments? What will be done? By when? When will we talk next? This principle of coaching keeps everyone on the same page. Keep in mind that getting agreement is not saying “Do you understand?” or “Any questions?”. That will not achieve agreement or understanding. It will probably generate a few nods of the head and an enthusiastic (or hesitant) “Yes,” but it will not ensure that you both are agreeing to the same thing. To get agreement, employ your great coaching skills of questioning and listening. Ask the person you are coaching to summarize what you have discussed and what agreements/decisions you have reached. By having him or her relay their understanding to you, misconceptions can be cleared up and differences can be resolved.
These coaching principles are teachable and learnable – and get better with practice. So, get the support and tools you need to begin applying these principles to your daily management practices now and see how they work!