by Philip Nucleus Sia
Our ability to influence and change our employees behavior (or sometimes belief), is mostly dependent in our ability to provide coaching. Coaching is the processes of bringing a valued individual from point A to point B through conversation and collaboration. To some, this is usually an activity we link to sports such as in basketball or foot ball. In the Philippines, we can see on television that the basketball coach is mostly the only person talking and strategizing for the players. He tells everyone what they need to do and what position they need to take. While this approach can be effective in this area, it may be challenging to apply the same in the workplace where the coaching needs to take effect not only for an hour but longer spans of times. Aside from these, there are many other things that make coaching at work very challenging.
Coaching is meant to provide support, guidance, and empowerment. It must be a positive employee experience. It is not only done to correct errors and avoid its repetition, it is also a tool to encourage the replication of positive work behaviors. In order for us to ensure that coaching becomes the tool it is meant to be, it is important to understand what challenges us in coaching so that we can work on these and create a positive environment for our staff.
Time and Consistency. In a world where there are so many things we need to accomplish, work has taken so much of our time that we sometimes assume that everyone can certainly do what they are hired to do at the level we want. As a result, coaching becomes the last thing in our bucket list. We rarely spend time providing people development. Most of the time, coaching is done only when an employee makes a mistake. As a result, they tend to see coaching as a way for managers to reprimand them. Coaching becomes a negative experience. To avoid this from happening, managers need to see coaching as an important tool; a key task that will make their life easier. It is important to spend a consistent amount of time providing people with feedback and coaching. So do your coaching weekly or monthly. If you have the time, daily is also good. This makes people aware that you are there to support them.
Don’t Know What To Coach. Some managers do not spend time on coaching as they do not see what else needs to be talked about when employees didn’t do anything wrong. Talking to employees is also sometimes seen as a futile activity with not much business value. This is actually the contrary because, as long as it isn’t gossip, talking to employees regardless the topic does help build rapport and makes a leader more influential to them. While coaching is usually a discussion of possible improvement points for the employee, it can also be a conversation to celebrate an employee’s success. Yes, coach them and talk about the good things they accomplished. Use this conversation to empower them. Be specific about what behavior you think they did well so that they can replicate these.
Saying the Bad News. As coaching is mostly done to correct undesirable behaviors, it sometimes requires us to communicate uncomfortable and less-than-desirable issues. As Filipinos, there are two pitfalls for such. One is that we are culturally not very confrontational. Arguing, regardless the topic, is seen in our culture as disrespectful. However, we fail to see that arguments when in terms of ideas can be a healthy avenue for growth and development. For a coach or manager, it is important to be ready for responses when we have to provide negative feedback and focus the direction of the conversation on what can be productively done despite the bad news. Two, Filipinos take everything, including our jobs, personally. We tend to think that any comment and feedback about our work is personal and we get hurt hearing them. The internet is a living proof of this. When any other nations try to attack Filipinos through comments in social media, we tend to defend ourselves a lot. This is not different from when we receive coaching. Therefore, a manager’s challenge is to ensure that while the coaching targets opportunities for growth, the delivery of the feedback is positive and constructive. It has to provide encouragement and should be blame-free.
It’s about Listening Not Talking. In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he describes that we should seek to understand before we seek to be understood. Because they have seen it done by sports coaches, some managers think that they are the only one privileged to talk. They provide solutions without asking questions and without identifying the root cause of the issues. This is a true challenge because we sometimes think that our experiences are the same as others. Even the smartest managers sometimes overlook that the challenge for the rank-and-file isn’t doing the task but at times understanding the big picture. As a coach, it is important to ask people about their challenges, their understanding, and what they think can be a good solution to issues. By asking questions, not only do we encourage positive communication and an open conversation, we are also teaching our employees how to think on their own which gives a lot of benefits in the long run.
Keeping an Atmosphere of Trust and Positiveness. When issues arise, some managers can lose their patience quickly. That is all right. After all, we are only human. What separates a good manager from an average one is how he responds and handles the situation. When coaching people, what is most essential is that we create a change; not letting loose of our anger. Some managers overlook this. They vent and then tell people what to do. This makes people work because of fear. While some managers can get away with that, fear instills short-term commitment. When you make people fear you, they will do the right behavior while you are around – what they do when you are away is another story. When coaching, it is important to make people reflect on their errors. Ask them what they think went wrong and how they can make a difference. Once the conversation is done and you have both agreed on a solution, verbalize that you trust in their abilities to make a change and offer your support when needed. This will ensure that your coaching becomes a relationship builder that fosters trust and positiveness in your workplace.
There are many other potential challenges in the workplace when it comes to coaching, but if you are able to address these five basics, then you are on your way to becoming truly successful in managing your employees’ behaviors and performance. Remember that the skill of a true leader is to effectively influence others to follow goals without forcing them and by making them feel that they, as members, can truly make a difference.
If you would like to learn more about coaching and how you can be influential to your employees, please take a look at our calendar for any upcoming schedules on our Influential Coaching Techniques Workshop. For inquiries, call (02) 433 3342 or thru mobile at (0998) 562 4984 to 85.