Why Coaching Skills For Managers Are Critical - And How To Develop Them
"7 Habits of Highly INeffective People"
Drs. Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman, the dynamic duo that wrote the seminal Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, studied over 52,000 leaders. They sought "to understand those behaviors that best differentiated between the worst leaders...versus all others."
Why Coaching Matters - Now More Than Ever
Millennials are storming the workforce, and they are bringing new demands and expectations with them. Many want at least monthly feedback and ongoing opportunities for coaching.
Coaching Skills for Every Leaders
The Coaching Skills Inventory is an invaluable resource for leaders. Developed by leaders in the coaching and talent management field, Cindy Coe, Dr. Amy Zehnder, and Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, the Inventory is designed for those who want to "identify a coaching gap" in their leadership and to improve proficiency in these skills. It guides users through a questionnaire and self-assessment that pinpoints areas of strengths and areas for improvement.
- Contact and Core Skills. Informal conversations often yield the biggest gains. Make time for regular contact with your direct-reports - and do not wait for them to come to you. For a variety of reasons, you'll be waiting a long, long time. As always, make sure they feel welcome, validated, and respected. Listen to their views (remember the old proverb: you have one mouth but two ears) and focus on the issue at hand rather than dragging attitudes and past history into the mix.
- Counseling. No, you're not a therapist, but you can help your people learn to solve their own problems. To do so, listen to the facts carefully and without preconceptions. Again, keep the conversation focused on the issue. Resist the urge to tell them how to solve the problem; we always know exactly what other people should do! Instead, encourage them to pose solutions and serve as a resource to support them in implementing them.
- Mentoring. Leaders from Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, and Bill Gates to Richard Branson, Oprah, and Mother Theresa have all grown with the help of mentors. As a guide, you can help your people navigate the ins and outs of your organization and their career. For example, developing political savvy is often a must. As a mentor, you can help your people understand political influences and ramifications, develop strong networks for support and resources, and offer real guidance that enables them to open the door to new opportunities.
- Tutoring. This aspect of coaching involves helping employees obtain, and retain, key knowledge. To do so, identify what they need to know to do their jobs well and help them gain the competence and comprehension they require. Encourage continual learning - as well as the application of that learning - so they can expand beyond that which they thought themselves capable.
- Confronting and Challenging. One of the most challenging aspects of coaching is providing correction or confronting folks who are not performing up to par. And, as you'd expect, it's one of the most important! To do so:
- Clarify your expectations to ensure you're both on the same page. Written and shared!
- Be specific when discussing performance problems. What actually happened? Get concrete.
- Emphasize improvement. Instead of ruminating on failures, send a positive message for the future. Include specific strategies that they can use to improve. The goal is excellence, not perfection.
- Push people past the limits they've imposed on themselves. If, for example, a direct report isn't performing as well as she could, challenge her with more difficult tasks. And communicate your belief in her ability to get it done.
Mastering the art of coaching will remove those millstones from your neck and allow you to rise to the top of the leadership heap. Growing and developing your people is job one: learning how to coach them is step one.