Good coaching will inspire your team to reach greatness | Daily News
Leading your flock into greener pastures – Part 28

Good coaching will inspire your team to reach greatness

When trying to enhance the performance or behaviour of their staff, many leaders make the mistake of telling people what to do: the message often goes in one ear and out of the other one! People have to take ownership of the need for the change and become committed to putting the effort in to sustain a change in their performance or behaviour.

Your challenge in coaching the people who report to you is to have meaningful conversations with them so that they take ownership of and become committed to making the change ... and, ideally, to managing themselves in achieving and sustaining the improvement.

My description of the role of coach is to: Engage people in their own thinking to enable them to gain new insights and meanings that enhance their confidence and lead to better decisions, actions, behaviour and performance.You discover useful tips on how to coach individuals and even your whole team to be even better at what they do in the next three instalments.

Taking a time out to coach

In basketball, coaches can call a time out to discuss tactics; you can do the same and you don't even have to stop the game! You can coach individual members or the whole team as part of your normal daily activities. You may think that you don't have the time to coach people every day, but you do because each opportunity may only take a few minutes.

Be on the lookout for opportunities to coach individuals and your team every day.

Here are a few examples of the many opportunities you have to coach members of your team towards greatness:

Ask a team member who brings a problem to you to also bring options with a recommendation for how to solve the problem. Talk though the proposal and praise the person if you agree with the recommendation. If you disagree, ask relevant questions to guide the person towards your preferred action.

Dip into the water

When you've done this process a few times and are agreeing with the recommendations being put to you, help people to see that they're solving the problems, and only need to come to you if a problem is exceptional or the consequences of taking the wrong action are significant.

When you notice that a task hasn't been done to the required standard, ask the relevant person to look at the task, and assess and comment on whether it meets the required standard. Ask questions to help the person spot where or how the task is sub-standard, understand the consequences of it being wrong and describe the actions to take to do the task correctly this time and in future.

Catch people doing a great job by walking around and talking to them about the work they're doing. Praising people in public boosts their self-esteem and reinforces the standards that you expect people to achieve.

Hold a short review of the process at the end of a team meeting to agree strengths and actions to improve how well: (a) People were prepared for the meeting, (b) Time was used, (c) Everyone was encouraged to contribute., (d) People listened to each other, (e) Decisions were made and clear actions agreed, (f) The team hold each other accountable for taking agreed actions following a meeting.

Be a great coach by regularly helping people to think things through for themselves.

Choosing the right role

I adopt and fulfil several different roles as a coach when working with chief executives, directors and other senior managers, often during each meeting with them. My clients often don't notice that I'm changing my role because my movement from one to another is subtle in response to the issues they're raising or their emotions.

Coaching roles and when to use them

Advisor - You've more knowledge and expertise than the people who report to you in certain aspects of their work. Provide guidance and advice that will empower your group to make decisions and take action. You have valuable insight to offer that will lend a new perspective to the organization. You do not have to make things happen for the group, but you can serve as a resource person and use your connections across campus to help them accomplish goals.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do as an advisor is to do nothing. Growth occurs from making mistakes and learning from failures. Determine the line between a safe failure and complete meltdown. Remember: we let our team members walk toward the edge; we never let them fall over. A rule of thumb: offer praise in public and criticism in private.

Partner - You work together in jointly solving a problem, sharing your expertise and ideas to enhance each other's understanding of the problem and arrive at a decision that you're both committed to taking.

Keeping the communication clear, open, honest, and respectful will allow team members to express their feelings in a way that prevents a build-up of hidden anger or distrust. Encourage team members to ask questions and listen to one another. This helps to build better team dynamics and stronger relationship

Another way to enhance partner spirit is to set aside time for trust-building exercises. If trust and support are seen as an important part of company culture, they are more likely to grow. And teams that appear more trustworthy have been shown to perform better than those who lack trust.

Reflector - You listen carefully and reflect back your interpretations to the person to check and clarify the meanings they're trying to convey, perhaps acting as a sounding board for their proposals and/or offering different interpretations. Use this approach to help people refine their thinking on an issue and acquire new insights into, for example, how to build a more productive working relationship with a colleague.

Ask them directly, “Is there anything you’ve been trying to tell me that I’m just not hearing?” Be quiet and listen. Thank them for sharing, and respond quickly. You don’t have to agree, but you do need to hear. And you’ll probably find that that alone gets your employees to start taking your directions more seriously. It’s hard not to listen to a person who’s actively listening to you.

Catalyst - The Catalyst Effect examines leadership and teamwork from a new perspective. Rather than focusing on individuals with a formal title or specific authority, or “the corner office,” the model focuses on the idea that team members can lead from wherever they are in the organization.

Catalyst leader

A catalyst leader is someone who's leading change. They see what's happening in the world and they jump in. Catalyst leaders are those who are forward looking. Knowing you can't lead without having a vision for something new. They're also leaders who are willing to push through resistance. Catalyst leaders think beyond their immediate role to ensure what they do is aligned with the overall strategy.

A catalyst leader builds credibility: Behaviours essential for developing trust, communicating effectively, and generating belief in what can be achieved. He energizes others with a confident, hope-filled outlook on the future. Conveys a can-do attitude.

He creates Cohesion: Behaviours that coalesce relationships and propel mission-oriented action. He prioritizes team success and process over personal goals. Selfless; does what it takes to achieve results by focusing on overarching organizational objectives.

He generates momentum: Behaviours that elevate and accelerate performance. He leads when best qualified to accelerate progress toward objectives. Partners with others or follows the leadership of others when their knowledge and expertise are well suited to the task. He demonstrates respect for the abilities of others

He amplifies impact: Behaviours that promote excellence and encourage innovation. He prioritizes team success and process over personal goals. He presents creative, imaginative, and value-adding ideas for solving problems and achieving objectives

You challenge someone about his thinking and behaviour while having a genuine interest in him as an individual, providing moral support and acting with integrity. This approach is powerful for helping people with you representing as a critical friend to enhance their self-awareness, acquire insights into their motives, attitudes and behaviours, and how their behaviour is impacting on others, and to increase their self- accountability.

You need to be highly skilled as a coach or have a strong relationship with a person to be a critical friend. And remember always to have critical friends yourself - they’re of huge value as you go through your career.

To be a great coach you must have a genuine interest in helping people to grow and prosper. Giving people your total attention when you're with them. Encouraging people to fulfil their potential as all times. Keeping your mind open to all possibilities and avoiding being judgemental.

You must ask searching and difficult questions to enhance the quality of people's thinking, explore the reasons for their actions and so Listening intently to the language people are using and noticing words and phrases that have significant meanings for them. You must sense whether people are showing real commitment to do what is right or necessary.

You must speak your mind; that is, having the courage to say what needs to be said rather than ducking issues or avoiding disagreements. Be willing to challenge people's motives and behaviour. You need to reinterpret information shared between you and individuals to create new insights and meanings about problems, and the person's self- awareness and self-knowledge.

You must be vulnerable by remaining willing to have your views questioned and challenged, and acknowledging and saying when you're wrong. You must have humility: you're not the focus of the conversation! Not an easy job!

(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired company director with long experience in senior business management. Presently he is a business consultant, freelance newspaper columnist and a writer.)

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