Smart Coaching

Coaching is the best way to develop talent and productivity. If you think back on your own life, you can probably identify teachers, relatives, sports coaches, or previous bosses who coached you for success.

  • What did they do to help you grow and develop?
  • What common methods can you identify?
  • How could you apply these techniques to developing your staff?

Research indicates that common characteristics of good coaches include:

a. creating an atmosphere of support and trust
b. recognizing and building on the strengths of an individual
c. expecting excellence
d. providing continuing information on the company, its goals and the role of the work unit in the organization
e. providing clear guidance on expectations and priorities
f. letting the individual have freedom to do the job

You can become a good coach. Coaching requires generally consistent behavior on your part. This starts with being a good role model for those behaviors you expect from others. When you recognize that your own and the company’s success are built on the success of each member of your staff, recognition of their partnership and needs becomes easier. Basic actions you can take to become a good coach include:

  • solicit and be receptive to others’ ideas
  • provide guidance, information, and advance planning details routinely
  • explain your actions and decisions or reasons for procedures
  • provide training and support needed
  • establish and communicate performance standards and hold individuals accountable
  • provide periodic feedback on job performance routinely
  • give visibility, recognition and credit to individuals

Coaching is a pro-active behavior in which you help others to grow and develop.


Effective Counseling

Counseling is the key to changing problem behaviors into productive performance. Counseling differs from coaching in that it is in response to problems in work performance or behaviors. Since counseling is often seen as criticism or punishment, many managers do not do it until minor problems have become severe. Early intervention is critical to success and regaining productivity.

The two hardest aspects of counseling for many managers are problem specification and suspending judgement.

You should start by clearly defining your view of the problem and assessing if you are a part of it. Have you really provided clear work assignments and performance standards as well as the training, facilities, support, and feedback needed to attain those standards? If so, you may need to counsel the individual. Setting the stage for effective counseling includes establishing a time and private place to talk without any interruptions. You should be in control of your own emotions before you begin a session.

  • Explain the problem or issues which led to the counseling session as factually as possible.
  • Focus on behavior: desired behavior and current behavior. Give specific examples of the behavior at issue.

Convey your concern for the person by the words you choose as well as by your own behavior. Ask for the individual’s ideas, reactions and solutions. This requires careful listening and feedback of what you hear. You may need to allow the person to vent their anger, denial, or fears at first. Treat their feelings and perceptions as facts – they are. Recognize the validity and normality of such reactions before you move into a plan. Recognize and admit it if you have made any errors in assessment of the problem.

  • Ask for a solution.
  • Let the individual make the decisions as much as possible.
  • Be clear that it is their responsibility to solve the problem.

Your role is to define the problem and standards, help to assess priorities, and show your confidence in the person’s ability to solve the problem.

In some cases, employees may bring personal problems in to work. These may create or aggravate work problems. Personal problems are not yours to deal with. You may be understanding and, if necessary and possible, provide some temporary “slack” to help the person cope. However, when a personal problem creates a work problem or is used as an excuse for a work problem, your role is to redirect the issue to the solution of the work problem. Your counseling should be directed to this.

Remember, effective counseling is done when a problem begins. If you wait until it is a habit or has continued for long periods, you will have condoned the behavior and have little chance of successfully correcting it. Good counseling is factual, specific, and immediate. It involves the other person in both the problem and the solution so that they take responsibility for appropriate action.

Learning how to coach and counsel and then taking the time do so regularly will significantly enhance productivity in your organization.  These practices also helps reduce turnover and legal risks related to termination of employment.