Effective managers are increasingly being described as coaches rather than as bosses. Just like coaches, they’re expected to provide instruction, guidance, advice and encouragement to help employees improve their job performance.
There are three general skills that managers should exhibit if they are to help their employees generate performance breakthroughs. You can be more effective at coaching if you use these skills and practice the following specific behaviors associated with each.
- Analyze ways to improve an employee’s performance and capabilities
A coach looks for opportunities for an employee to expand his or her capabilities and improve performance. How? By using the following behaviors: observe your employee’s behavior on a daily basis. Ask questions of the employee: why do you do a task this way? Can it be improved? What other approaches might be used? Show genuine interest in the employee as an individual, not merely as an employee. Respect his or her individuality. Listen to the employee.
- Create a supportive climate
It’s the coach’s responsibility to reduce barriers to development and to facilitate a climate that encourages personal performance improvement. How? By using the following behaviors: create a climate that contributes to a free and open exchange of ideas. Offer help for assistance. Give guidance and advice when asked. Encourage your employees. Be positive and upbeat. Don’t use threats. Focus on mistakes as learning opportunities. Ask: “what did we learn from this that can help us in the future?” Reduce obstacles. Express to the employee that you value his or her contribution to the unit’s goals. Take personal responsibility for the outcome, but don’t rob employees of their full responsibility. Validate the employees’ efforts when they succeed. Point to what was missing when they fail. Never blame the employees for poor results.
- Influence employees to change their behavior
The ultimate test of coaching effectiveness is whether or not an employee’s performance improves. The concern is with ongoing growth and development. How can you do this? By using the following behaviors: encourage continual improvement. Recognize and reward small improvements and treat coaching as a way of helping employees to continually work toward improvement. Use a collaborative style by allowing employees to participate in identifying and choosing among improvement ideas. Break difficult tasks down into simpler ones. Model the qualities that you expect from your employees. If you want openness, dedication, commitment, and responsibility from your employees, you must demonstrate these qualities yourself.