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Why Does Coaching In Business Work?
What Is Coaching?
Coaching is a term that is often misused in business. You hear someone say "I need to coach them on how they speak to customers" for example. What they really mean is they need to provide feedback and then correct the behavior. If we truly "Coach" someone, we would first of all have a firm belief that the team member has the knowledge and skills to perform well. We would simply ask a series of questions to make the team member aware of the behavior concern and allow them to discover the best approach to correct or change their approach. Coaching is not the same as mentoring, where we provide direction and advice to someone based on our knowledge or previous experiences. So true Coaching is asking questions and allowing the team member to problem solve on their own.
Why Does Coaching Work?
So why is it that "Coaching" is such an effective method of motivating and improving team member performance? The simple answer is that you are allowing team members to be involved in the process. When we are simply told what to do and how to do it, there is very little ownership to the outcome. But when we determine on our own the best course of action, we now feel accountable for what happens next. That is a very powerful tool.
But I Do Not Have Time
One of the most common reasons Team Leaders do not embrace the idea of Coaching is that they do not feel they have the time. Simply telling someone what to do and how to do it takes very little time. And, we often times feel it is our job to know everything and to direct the actions and behaviors of those people we lead. But what really happens when you let go of the 'command and control' style of leadership, is that you develop motivated, independent thinkers. When team members learn how to make better decisions, and they feel accountable for how they are performing, you actually get far fewer questions and there are usually less interruptions during your day.
So How Do I Begin To Coach Team Members?
The easiest way to begin Coaching team members is to first schedule regular time to meet with each one. Make the time long enough that you are able to complete a simple series of questions/topics, but short enough that you are able to be consistent with your meetings. Make them too long, and you will find yourself cancelling due to lack of time.
Next, simply begin by asking the team member a few simple questions. Where do you see yourself in the next 3-6 months? What is one area you would like to learn more about? Give me one area I can be more helpful to you in? The key is to get the team member talking, and then just sit back and listen. The biggest challenge most Team Leaders have is they try to problem solve rather than listen. So when your Team Member brings up a challenge they are facing, simply ask them 'how do you think you can overcome this issue?' Remember, the power is in 'accountability'.