Friday, 12 August 2011

You know Coaching would be great for your team, but you don’t know where to start!

Here’s a quick guide from Sammy Lloyd, Head of Learning at Branding Science

Coaching – What the hell is it, really?

  • It’s helping people to learn a skill through 1-1 sessions and feedback.
  • Uses day to day, career learning experiences for your team members. The best coaching is done on-job, (you don’t always have to create appointments and schedule diaries, good coaching often only takes a few moments/minutes)
  • Provides a structure for development of every member of staff, controlled by you, but owned by the individual.
  • Should be carried out on an ongoing basis. (if you believe that you did some coaching with a team member last year, therefore you are coaching……you may need to think again)

Follow this Simple 4 stage Process and see dramatic results

  1. Analysis of Coaching Needs.
  • OK, what are the standards that my team need to achieve in a specific area of our business? What skills are required to do this? (you might want to list them if you haven’t got them down already)
  • What is the gap between the required standard/skill and the standard/skill at present? Get really clear on this and list them, you need to be crystal clear on this. You’ll notice that often our human abilities i.e. relationship building skills, attitude, determination, procrastination, effective use of time etc may surface.
  • Can the gap be filled by coaching?
  • What are the priorities? List them.
  1. Setting objectives/ targets / key result areas etc.
  • What targets should you set for staff? Now I hate to use the next example, but you what? Nothing has come up yet to replace the technique of using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timescale). Most important? - Realistic.
  • Draw up a simple Learning and Development plan for every member of staff. Think about their coaching needs. Which are the most important? How frequently can you address them?
  • Always agree targets with team members. Remember that coaching is (when used correctly) a key motivational tool – if staff are not kept informed it can de-motivate through fear and suspicion. Many great coaches don’t even use the term ‘coaching’ as it becomes ‘conversational’ it’s often just an ‘impromptu, informal chat’. Coaching still happens and is very structured, but the skilled coach interweaves and infuses the session elements conversationally (that are often not even noticed by the team member). This frequently ends up with the team member leaving the session with fresh impetus, clarity, focus, and often in higher spirits.
  1. Coaching Skills
  • Adopt the ‘little and often’ approach.
  • Consider your communication techniques. Use a combination of open and closed questions. A closed question can only be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The skill of using open ended questioning technique is a true skill. (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?) Seek methods of utilizing this skill in your own personal development. Always check understanding.
  • Be enthusiastic. Give appropriate praise and encouragement.
  • Give regular feedback. Be constructive.
  • Advice and guidance from own experiences can be very effective. However, use with caution, often when we enable the team member to figure something out for themselves it becomes more beneficial than the old, ‘you want to do it like this’ approach.
  1. Evaluation
  • You must think about how you are going to monitor the success of your coaching before you really get started. Having a date to review progress is always beneficial
  • Always link activity to goals whenever possible.
  • Use review sessions to re-assess coaching needs.
  • Discuss progress regularly.

How to really ‘mess up’, or the most common Barriers to effective Coaching

  • Setting unrealistic objectives.
  • You as Coach do not ask enough questions to get to know what the team member ‘really wants to achieve’. Getting to the heart of the matter.
  • Poor relationship with staff member.
  • Lack of confidence to question and probe, to really understand team member.
  • Tendency to instruct rather than coach.
  • Choosing inappropriate time and place for your coaching session.

Gaining skills in coaching and then applying them is one of the most productive and rewarding areas of management (and personal life). There are a number of different methods of coaching that can truly bring benefits to management and team members.

Sammy Lloyd is Head of Learning at Branding Science and has been deeply involved in Coaching and Learning and Development programmes for over 20 years. Should you have any queries with regards to Coaching for Results then please contact our offices.

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