Do your employees rely on you to solve their problems for them? As a leader, your role extends beyond directives. Learn how adopting high-performance coaching techniques can elevate your team and give employees the confidence to succeed.
Managing vs. coaching: what’s the difference? As a manager, you have one of the most important duties in the organization. Engaging and motivating your employees to maximize performance. Employees often rely on their managers to direct and guide them towards a specific outcome. By shifting to a mindset of high-performance coaching, you’re opening up a whole new realm of opportunities.
In this article, we share how to equip your team with the skills and confidence needed to unleash their full potential. Get ready to create a collaborative, high-performance work culture that is unstoppable.
Your Role as a Manager
Managers wear two hats. The first is coaching and developing employees. The second is managing performance, which we dove into in the last article of our performance management series.
A common misconception is that a manager’s job is to instruct their employees on what or how to do something. In actuality, when you take on the mentality of coaching rather than managing, you’re able to provide your employees with the tools they need to tap into their potential.
Sean Fitzgerald explains Coaching Feedback and One-on-One Meetings
In the wise words of one of our favourite performance consultants, Sir John Whitmore, “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.” When you help your team reach autonomy and ownership of their work, great things can happen. Some other benefits of coaching for performance are:
- Developing capability in your employees.
- Teaching them to overcome their challenges and trust their knowledge and experience.
- Develop self-belief and confidence in your team as a whole.
- Make your job more fulfilling, collaborative, and supportive.
- Create a high-performance culture.
Shifting your management style will take commitment, but it will be worth it. We often say that the easiest management style for the leader is the least effective for the employee. In comparison, business coaching is NOT:
- Instructing: Your employees are resourceful. Short term, it may be easier for you to tell them exactly how to proceed. However, this can rob your employees of long-term growth.
- Mentoring: Chances are, each individual on your team is there for a good reason. Good coaching should take the employee beyond the limitations of the coach or mentor's knowledge.
Mentoring and coaching are often used interchangeably, but there is a clear distinction between the two. Mentors are those who are experts in their field and impart their knowledge and advice to others.
Believe it or not, to be a coach, you don’t need any skills or experience in that specific field of work. Truthfully, sometimes a lack of specialized knowledge can actually be beneficial. When you have fewer preconceived notions, it’s easier to be impartial and unbiased.
Carol Wilson, Managing Director of Culture at Work, sums it up perfectly. “A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions”.
The Coaching Process
Whether you’re coaching in an athletic, personal, or professional setting, the process is always the same. The overall mission isn’t to provide outcomes directly. Rather, it’s to give your team the resources to get to that outcome on their own.
There are 3 principles of coaching:
- Emotional Intelligence.
- Awareness & Responsibility.
- Removing Interference.
The key here is to empower your employees through awareness. There are two variations of awareness that are important to an organization: self-awareness and social awareness. In combination, this helps your employee develop strong self- and relationship-management skills. A product of focused attention, concentration, and clarity, awareness is critical because it leads to skill.
An individual's performance is determined by their true potential, minus any interference that may obstruct them. By heightening awareness, a coach's role is to help their employees recognize these barriers and encourage them to take personal accountability to overcome them.
GROW Model Coaching
To start implementing performance coaching in your organization, start with a simple coaching framework to build a foundation. We call this the GROW Model.
Goal. What result do you want? Reality. What’s happening now? Options. What could you do? Will. What will you do?
This process supports you by providing structure for your coaching sessions. The key is establishing SMART goals. From there, you examine the current situation and determine what is possible.
As a leader, you are welcome to offer suggestions, but always give your team the opportunity to share their thoughts first. After working through those first three steps, your employee should have a good idea of what is necessary to achieve their goal.
In his book “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever," Michael Bungay Stanier helps equip leaders with 7 essential coaching questions:
- What’s on your mind?
- And what else?
- What’s the real challenge here for you?
- What do you want?
- How can I help?
- What are you saying no to?
- What was most useful for you?
This style of communication is intended to help switch your approach from solution mode to coaching mode.
- Ask effective questions.
- Open questions generate awareness and responsibility.
- Open questions cause people to think.
- Compel observation and create descriptive, not judgemental, answers.
- Use interrogative words.
- What, when, who, how much, and how many.
- These words seek to quantify or gather facts.
- “Why” is discouraged as it can imply criticism. Instead, try “What were the reasons?”
Getting Top Performance From Employees
Think back to a time when a leader demonstrated belief in your ability to accomplish an important task. Exemplary leaders elicit high performance because they genuinely believe in the abilities of their team. This is essential to success.
In order to develop the competence and confidence required to develop top performers, feedback is key. In between quarterly performance reviews, you should be maintaining performance logs for each direct report. This can be completed in the form of weekly or biweekly one-on-one check-ins.
These check-ins are so valuable, but more often than not, they are wasted opportunities. It’s crucial to have structure via a one-on-one meeting template to ensure these meetings are used effectively.
Follow these basics to elevate your one-on-one meeting, and download our full coaching guide for more details:
- Who: Managers should have one-on-ones with ALL direct reports.
- When: Most employees benefit from weekly coaching sessions with their manager. Have a protected time set in your calendar.
- Where: A location where you can both speak openly and comfortably.
- How long: 30 minutes
- 2 minutes personal check-in
- 3 minutes follow-up actions from last time
- 10 minutes for them
- 10 minutes for you
- 5 minutes for confirming actions
The best way to ensure success is to take notes, be clear about the next steps, and follow up. When you leave the meeting with clear takeaways, it’s more likely that the actions will be carried out. This also creates a sense of continuity between meetings and gives the opportunity for additional support along the way.
Unleashing the Potential of Your Organization
How often do you conduct one-on-one performance reviews with your team? Providing regular performance feedback to every employee is a critical part of effective leadership.