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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
SEP 30, 2020
Manager Coaching and Training Tips
Coaches are Made, Not Born
Most managers are asked to “coach” their employees as part of their Human Resources performance management process. This often means there is a scheduled interval for providing feedback. Sometimes managers are given a coaching form which they can use to structure their coaching conversations, but many times, they “wing” these conversations.
As with the opening sports analogy, coaching without the right skills may cause more harm than good. Mangers could miss a moment to motivate an employee in real-time through positive feedback on a success. Managers could also reinforce the wrong behavior, or frustrate employees, by not listening to their ideas on how to accomplish an objective. Effective coaching is much more than following a form or simply telling an employee what to do. Instead, coaching should be an ongoing, two-way conversation that gives both the manager and employee insights on how things are going, while encouraging the employee to reach his or her full potential. These conversations require development of effective coaching skills.
What are Important Coaching Skills?
Coaching done right helps employees expand their skills and knowledge over time by developing a love for lifelong learning and problem solving. It may sound like coaching uses old-fashioned common sense, but there is more to it than that. Here are some general coaching practices from
Harvard Business Review’s
(HBR) article, “The Leader as Coach”:
Start with a situational assessment.
Each employee circumstance is different, and you need to learn to respond with the best approach for the situation. You may need to tell a new employee what needs to be done, rather than coach. While you want to keep directional discussions like this to a minimum, there are times when this is the right approach. There are other times when an employee may ask for your help to solve a problem, and you can coach them to discover the solution on his or her own.
Develop strong listening skills.
Active listening is an important skill for a coach to develop. Be fully engaged in the conversation. Looking at your phone or computer during a coaching discussion tells the employee you’re not really listening. Use reframing statements to confirm that what you think you’re hearing is accurate. Don’t assume, confirm. Let silence be your ally in helping the employee fill the void with their thoughts and ideas.
Use open-ended questions.
This encourages a conversation by asking the employee to respond and formulate his or her own answers or offer creative solutions.
Practice makes perfect.
It is often faster and easier to provide an answer to a business challenge or specific question. Effective coaching means you must know when to do so, and when you should be having the employee supply the solution. The best way to learn this situational awareness and match the right approach to the circumstances is to practice it every day, wherever you may be.
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Coaching Develops the Right Skills
How do you help your managers develop these effective coaching skills? Research has found we are more effective when we are trained how to give this powerful feedback. The good news is that coaching training doesn’t have to be extensive or costly. Regardless of whether you buy or build it, the training should include time for participants to practice different coaching scenarios and then have time to review “the before and after” coaching sessions to evaluate how they did.
After the formal training, plan to bring your managers back together and conduct a peer coaching session. This lets the better coaches provide feedback to managers who may need coaching help, while letting all participants hear what better coaching sounds like. Run these sessions in a place where honest conversations can occur and encourage participants to discuss common coaching problems and solutions for addressing them.
Effective coaches learn the skills and then practice them continuously. They also value feedback from their leaders on how they are doing, so leaders should also coach their coaches. By taking coaching full circle, every employee is part of the process, which results in an organizational commitment to help everyone at every level achieve his/her potential while simultaneously helping the organization to prosper.