Being a manager is difficult, and being a coach and manager is even harder. It is easy for coaching to be put second, or done poorly because of other obligations. However, it is important to always be a good coach, no matter what else is going on. Below are the do's and don'ts of coaching.
What to do:
- Make time for coaching- This is the most important. You need to put aside a set time for coaching each week. Although coaching happens every day in the general workplace, it is important to also have a set meeting to talk about how that week went, discuss what can be improved and set goals for the future.
- Be specific- Coaching is happening all the time, but all of the advice and help that an employee receives can be confusing. Make sure to be specific. Give detailed descriptions and concrete examples with coaching to ensure that your employees understand what is expected of them.
- Observe reps in the field- Being a coach, it is important to know how your employees perform in the field. You should go on one sales call a quarter with your employees or more frequently if they are struggling in the field. Another thing to do is have a more experienced employee make calls with a struggling employee to help them learn and observe what they should do.
- Be one step ahead of the game- don't wait for problems to come to you. As a coach, you should always be on the lookout for potential problems.
What NOT to do:
- Tell employees the answer- When an employee comes to you with a problem, your job is not to tell them the answer but to help guide them towards it. As a coach, you are more of a mentor to your employees than a teacher; you are there to help them along the way.
- Make coaching a "once a week" event- I know that I said to schedule a coaching session at least once a week, but that should not be the only coaching that happens during the week. Coaching should be woven into your everyday schedule. It's important to use coaching when it is needed, not only when you have time for it.
- Coach problem employees- This is one of the biggest mistakes made with coaching. ALL EMPLOYEES NEED COACHING! From your newest employee to the seasoned veteran, every employee has room to improve and needs coaching.
- Put off coaching when work is urgent or there is a problem- This is when coaching is the most important. It is easy to put off coaching when you have a deadline approaching or a big project, but these situations often present the best coaching examples and opportunities.
- Rely on the employee to identify their needs- Often times a coach will have a coaching meeting with an employee and ask them what they think they need to work on, and, fairly often, the employee will not really have an answer. As a coach, it is important to be observant of problems or of skills the employee needs to work on in order to be prepared for this situation.
- Have a set agenda for coaching sessions- I'm not saying that you shouldn't be prepared for scheduled coaching sessions, but as I said before, as a coach, you are a mentor to your employees, and you should let them guide the meetings and their coaching. You are there to listen and provide guidance, not lay out what they need to do for them.
- See coaching as a one way experience- Coaching is just as important for the coach as it is for the employee. Coaching gives everyone involved the chance to learn and grow.
It is important to coach when the opportunity presents itself and give feedback to employees in real time, and when they are able to do something to correct or help the situation.
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