This is Part 1 in a two-part article. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2.
Simple Definition: a person who teaches and trains an athlete or performer
What is Coaching?
Marianne Minor, faculty member at the General Electric Management Institute, New York, has defined coaching as: “a directive process by a manager to train and orient an employee to the realities of workplace, and to help the employee remove barriers to achieve optimum work performance.”
Depending on who you ask, there are many definitions of Coaching, but essentially in business, it’s an effective on-going process designed to help an employee gain greater competence and overcome barriers to improving performance.
Coaching takes time, and it involves commitment, patience, persistence and a keen desire to actively participate in an employee’s development. Throughout the coaching process, the main objective is to improve performance. In some instances, it can also be used to overcome specific problems, such as absenteeism and tardiness.
What Coaching is Not
Coaching differs from training, which is a structured process to provide employees with the knowledge, skills and working attitudes to perform a job proficiently. Training is appropriate when the person needs to learn a new skill to perform a given task, or needs to enhance their knowledge regarding a new process, procedure, etc. Coaching, on the other hand, involves a change in behavior.
Coaching is not counseling. Counseling is problem solving directed at personal issues that are affecting or have the potential to affect performance. Very often counseling involves personal problems such as marital and family problems, emotional and psychological barriers. However, counseling can be a supportive process by a manager to help an employee define and work through personal problems that affect job performance.
Why is coaching so important?
Today’s environment has created more pressure to do more with less. Sound familiar? The key to reducing pressure is to make the most of your most valuable resource: people!
If you have a sincere desire to develop and support your employees and the self-discipline to practice specific strategies and to learn creative coaching techniques, you can help to create an inspiring working culture.
- Coaching is the most effective way to develop your employees.
- It makes your job easier when your employees build their skill levels.
- It can help improve productivity when employees know what the departmental goals are and how to achieve them.
- High performing employees will help you reduce the anxiety and stress of increasing multiple responsibilities.
- Coaching helps avoid surprises and defensiveness in performance appraisals.
- It helps employees develop a high level of self-esteem and job satisfaction.
- Positive recognition and feedback increases staff motivation and initiative.
- Coaches in an organization, as in sports, are great influencers. They know how to bring out the best and the most in others. They also know that it is an on-going process and a primary responsibility.
- Coaching builds your reputation as a people developer; it develops a sharing of leadership responsibilities and increases team cohesiveness due to clarified objectives.
How Do I Become a Good Coach?
Clearly, with the pressures in today’s business environment, coaching is one of the most critical skills to be mastered by supervisors and managers. As an effective coach you need to demonstrate certain behaviors. Using the acronym “COACH”, you can easily identify and apply five specific behaviors of an effective coach.
• Collaborate. The coaching relationship is a collaborative one. Work with employees to set standards and performance objectives, and develop a performance improvement plan. It then becomes a matter of, “how can WE increase performance?”
• Own. Examine your own personal behavior and accept some ownership along with the employee. Ask yourself: “Do I make my expectations clear?”; “Am I providing the proper training?”; “Does the employee have the appropriate tools to do the job?”
• Acknowledge. Acknowledge successes through positive reinforcement and also acknowledge an employee’s feelings and concerns. Acknowledging concerns is not the same as overlooking them or allowing behavior that is not at an acceptable level. For example, you can certainly understand an employee’s difficulty in juggling the multiple responsibilities of both home and work; however, if it results in chronic absenteeism or tardiness, you cannot simply acknowledge your understanding. Rather, it is a concern that must be addressed. Going back to the Collaborate step may result in an acceptable solution.
• Communicate. This is probably the most important behavior and the one most managers seem to find the most difficult. Communication skills including listening, questioning, and giving and receiving feedback are critical for success. You need to practice two-way communication on a daily basis. In particular, always clarify your expectations!
• Help. As a manager or supervisor, you are not only a coach but also an advisor, serving as a resource person and a guide to other resources, both inside and outside the organization. In addition to giving help, you should also be seeking help from your employees. For example, if you need to increase production, ask your employees to help you develop a plan or at least solicit their ideas. You will be surprised how creative and innovative people can be if you ask for their input.