The Coaching Process
Coaching is a major responsibility for every manager, and for many people, it can be a major challenge. Managers need to be able to maintain performance standards, be certain people are following policies and procedures, and hit individual and team targets through other people.
Step One: Identify the Opportunity There are five ways to identify opportunities.
1. You identify an opportunity for another person.
2. An individual identifies an opportunity for themselves.
3. A customer, vendor, or other outsider identifies an opportunity.
4. You identify new skills needed within your team.
5. A situation creates an opportunity.
These different opportunities may arise due to a new need or out of taking on a new job or project that requires a new skill, or they may come out of a performance review or be identified after a mistake occurs.
Multiple opportunities arise for people on your team, and it is your job as a manager to prioritize those needs to keep others on your team from getting overwhelmed by the possibilities.
Jot down some opportunities that you see for yourself or for others in your workplace. Are you the right person to point out these needs? What is the best way to do so?
Step Two: Picture the Desired Outcome
Once the opportunity is identified, it is important to take the time and pinpoint what the situation will look like when the gap is filled. This is the step that many people skip or don't develop fully, which can lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and frustration for everyone.
One of the most important concepts in coaching is having a vision or end goal in mind. Without that, people often lose sight of the importance of making the needed changes. How we create this picture of what is possible is the central component of this step in the coaching process.
People with a clear vision of the end result of coaching tend to move in that direction more quickly than those without. It is crucial that both the coach and the trainee own the goal. Without that sense of ownership, coach or trainee may lose motivation. We focus on motivation and buy-in even more in the next step of the process, but this is where direction and motivation really begin.
Step Three: Establish the Right Attitudes
How well you really know your team may determine how quickly you know if you have the right trainee for the job and are able to gauge their motivation. This step is a critical part of the process of effective coaching. Without it, you spend a great deal of your time just overcoming resistance.
You often hear that people resist change. It isn't true. People resist being changed when they:
• Don't see the need
• Don't want to do it
• Believe that the change is not possible for them
In this step, you should focus on some of the skills required to cut resistance and move through the coaching process with less friction.
These skills are:
• Building trust
• Getting commitment vs. compliance
Step Four: Provide the Resources
In order for a coaching process to be successful, it is important the appropriate resources available. This includes time and, most importantly, a personal commitment to succeed from everyone. Other resources may include money, equipment, training, information, and upper level buy-in and support.
Ensure that the appropriate resources are in place and available. Nothing is as frustrating as being promised something and then not getting it. It can make everyone feel like they have been set up to fail.
Step Five: Practice & Skill Development
Once the resources are in place and the correct skill set has been identified, explained, and demonstrated, it is now time for the trainee to practice and apply what has been learned. For knowledge to evolve into a skill, you must practice it and perfect the skill with the help of a coach, who can ensure that you are practicing the new skill and not the old habit.
Practice also allows the coach to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.
• How to encourage others to success
• How closely to monitor and when to let go
• How to hold others accountable for progress
Step Six: Reinforce Progress
Making progress is one thing, but without a way to reinforce and maintain it, people may quickly go back to their old habits. One of the biggest fallacies managers hold on to is the assumption that if people know something, they will do it. People don't do what they know; they do what they have always done.
Try to use these strategies to reinforce learned skills:
• Empowering people to get results after they have learned new skills
• Giving the right kind of feedback
• Following up
• Handling nonperformance issues
• Handling mistakes and people who get off track
Step Seven: Reward
One of the best ways to cement growth and progress is to reward it. Rewarded behavior is repeated, and what gets repeated becomes habit.
But change can be uncomfortable. That is why people often revert to their habits if reinforcement and reward are not motivating forces. Habit is stronger than knowledge. To ensure that change happens quickly and is kept in place as long as needed, celebration and reward are important.
Some of the skills you put into coaching in this step of the process are:
• Praise and recognition
• Positive feedback techniques
• Recognizing people's strengths and accomplishments
• Having the right credibility and impact in the delivery
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