Believe it or not, I coach my wife. If I can coach my wife, you can coach the people on your team.
She knows if I’m coaching by my emotional state. Energetic emotion gets in the way. Instead, calm questioning helps. When I’m emotionally calm, it frees her to explore her own ideas. Hot emotion indicates I’m trying to fix her.
My coach and author of “Coaching for Engagement,” Bob Hancox, gave me a useful suggestion during our last conversation. He observed that I come up with a couple options, and then ask a great open-ended question. His suggestion? Start with the open-ended question. The message I took from his suggestion? Stop trying to be so helpful.
Three challenges of coaching an employee:
- There's a history that includes failure and frustration.
- They don’t get to choose outcomes.
- They think you have ulterior motives. They wonder if you’re really coaching them or just asking leading questions.
How to coach employees:
- Clarify when you’re being a coach. For example, say, “I’d like to coach you through this issue.”
- Acknowledge the special issues of being a coaching leader. You’re still the boss. It’s easier to be coached by someone outside your organization.
- Work on trust, transparency, candor, kindness, optimism and flexibility.
- Establish a structure for coaching conversations. First agree on the issue and the desired solution up front. Then start the coaching part of your conversation.
- Stop bringing up past performance. Coaching is a forward-looking activity.
- Be affirming, but agree on accountability.
- Try 30-minute meetings.
- Set the next meeting at the end of your current meeting to establish rhythm.
Ask yourself these coaching questions: What are you trying to achieve? What are you currently doing, and what is the result? What would you like to try?