Especially when we are coaching very specific areas or targeted areas we need to be very clear as it relates to expectations. Let me give you a brief example. A few months back I sat in on a meeting when a manager stood up and kept preaching that we need to have a sense of urgency when it comes to getting back to customers. I stop the meeting and asked everyone to write down their own definition of what a sense of urgency meant. Needless to say, out of 23 people we had 15 vastly different interpretations of what a sense of urgency meant. In essence, this manager really had no way of creating success because he had not yet defined the parameters, expectations, and definition of what he meant by a sense of urgency.
I called these nebulous or ambiguous coaching challenges. Let me give you another example. I was watching another coach talk to his team in a breakout session at their annual meeting using the phrase we have to show initiative. I pulled him aside after the meeting and asked him what he meant by that and surprisingly he struggled to even define it. Without saying another word he looked at me and said "how can I hold them accountable when I cannot even define it myself"?
When we train managers and how to coach employees one of the first things we ask companies to do is to create a definition of coaching. Here is why. I have a client in the Midwest that when their employees heard the word coaching they felt it was punitive meaning they had to be coached because they were under-performing. No one really knows where this interpretation came from but reality was this was indeed an interpretation or perception of the people.
Here is our definition of coaching: coaching is a continuous and scheduled interaction between a manager and an employee with the goal of getting employees to look in the mirror as step one and step two is getting them to take action on step one. This is not to say this is the only definition but this is what we use in our company.
Let's all share by writing in this blog your definition of coaching at your company or business.