4 steps to coaching with impact
Did you ever notice that nobody tells you that the hardest part of leading is supervising, supporting, and coaching your team? As a new manager, your work peers suddenly become your direct reports, and you get the feeling that everything you used to say about your former boss is now being said about you.
There are ways to make leading — and especially coaching — more impactful and productive for both you and your direct report (DR). Keep in mind that coaching is a team sport, and both you and the person being coached have to play an active role in the conversation. Agree on a specific time that you can observe interactions between your DR and a member or a coworker. Next, agree on one specific interaction that you can discuss one-on-one.
- Describe the Situation
Begin by having your DR describe the situation from their perspective. Ask them to identify what they wanted the outcome of the conversation to be versus what the outcome truly was.
- Self-Assess Performance
Next, ask a series of questions that will help your DR self-assess the discussion.
- What did you do well?
- What was the turning point in the interaction — positive or negative?
- Why do you think the other person reacted that way?
- What could you do differently next time?
- What skills would be useful in that situation next time?
Once your DR has completed their self-assessment, it’s helpful for you to weigh in only if you feel they’ve missed something crucial to the outcome of the discussion. This can be a challenge since you will inevitably see things that they missed during their self-assessment. Unless your ideas would radically change the outcome or pick up something critical that your DR has missed, don’t provide input at this stage unless it’s to include what you felt they did well.
- Explore Alternatives
There are multiple ways to explore alternative outcomes, and often our DRs will hesitate when they’re asked how else the situation might be handled. The mistake we as managers often make at this point in the coaching process is to become uncomfortable with the silence and jump in with our own ideas for alternatives. When we do this, we’re inadvertently letting our DR off the hook for solving not only this issue, but future issues, too. By jumping in when our DRs appear to be drawing a blank, we’re teaching them we’ll solve all of their problems for them. Oops!
Solution? Ask them to identify what they could do in the future to ensure the outcome they envisioned. Then ask, “What else?” Followed by, “What are some other ways to approach the situation?” “And what else could you do?” Yes, it’s redundant, however by pushing a bit on getting options for the next time, you’re coaching them to do a deeper self-assessment which will ultimately help them in future interactions.
- Commit to Action
The final step to coaching with impact is to create an action plan that is committed both to paper and to your calendars. Ask:
- What skills will you practice to better handle a situation like this in the future?
- What will you work on next time?
- When will you practice your newfound skill(s)?
- How will you know if you’re successful?
- What obstacles might get in your way?
- How can I help?
- When will our next discussion about this happen?
By working through these four steps in coaching your DRs, you’ll strengthen your team and help free up your time to do less fire fighting and more leading!
If you and your team would like help in defining and implementing coaching skills, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work together toward your success.