Coaching is one of the key components of managing modern employees. Nowadays, most people don’t just want to turn up to work and complete their daily tasks: they’re interested in both their personal and career development, and expect their managers to align with this and help bring them to the next level. Coaching your employees and helping them progress is the mark of a successful manager, and one that team members are highly grateful for. We take you through the top 5 ways to coach your team to success, and become a great leader yourself as you do so.
Listen: get to know the individual
Coaching isn’t a one-fits-all process. It’s important to tailor what you’re doing depending on who you’re interacting with. There isn’t a formula when it comes to helping someone develop: instead having a genuine understanding of the individuals that make up your team and what they’re needing to work towards will make for a far better and more useful process for everyone. Asking people what they feel they need to work on, how they see their development and what they think their next steps are, rather than simply putting people on standardized plans is far more beneficial. It will allow your team to each work on things which will benefit them and their long-term development plans. People will also really appreciate that you’re taking the time to treat them as individuals and cater to their goals, and in turn likely feel way more motivated to put great effort into their work.
Asking people what they want from the coaching process goes hand-in-hand with communicating well. Once you realize what people want from the process, it’s easy to tailor what you’re doing. One fail-safe way to start is by asking people questions. What is it they want? Only once you know what people’s key focuses are can you really start to help them. Just taking the straight forward step of asking people the right questions can make all the difference between a useful process being set in place and people still not being happy with their progress. Really listening to your employees responses and tailoring the next steps around their answers shows you value people, and are in line with their personal values and goals. Asking people what they actually want out of the process is the only way to ensure it’s fully useful: whilst sometimes, as a manager, you have to assign things to people, working on coaching and their development programs can’t just be another one of these tasks. It really requires people to give their input and work collaboratively with you in order to take control of their own development.
Focus on people, not tasks
Make it clear to your team that the conversations and feedback taking place aren’t focused around the tasks or projects they’re working on, but how they can work on their skills, knowledge or practices and build them to improve future performance. When coaching your team, that’s exactly what the focus should really be on: using these skills and points for improvement to shape future practices and personal development. It’s key to have people know that this is all something you can build on together over time, and that you’re not expecting the things discussed to change and improve instantly overnight.
Coaching employees isn’t just about the employee. A large part of coaching people is the way you yourself deal with them; how you both perceive and in turn interact with them. If you can level with people, try and understand where they’re coming from with any problems in their role, opposing outlooks or personal issues, you’ll be far better equipped to deal with the situation at hand and work with people on a one-to-one basis. Being more aware of and increasing your emotional intelligence will by far improve you as a coach and mean you’re ready to better support and guide people: it’s not surprising that successful leaders seem to have higher than average levels of emotional intelligence.Being emotionally intelligent requires a focus: both on yourself and having an acute awareness of your inner workings, but also on others: empathizing with them and using your understanding as a basis to work more closely with people on a personal level.
Feedback is key
It’s impossible for people to develop without feedback. If your team aren’t aware of what they can improve, it doesn’t allow them to change or really build upon what’s going well. Providing effective, real-time feedback means plans can be tailor made to ensure the most efficient development takes place. Giving people tailored feedback which you’ve built up from closely working with them is the first step towards a useful development process. It’s also hugely important to recognize people’s achievements. Feedback isn’t just limited to constructive criticism: praising people for their successes is equally important. If your team know that you’re both aware of what they’re doing and you support them in their successes, they will be appreciative and likely strive even harder towards their goals as they know both where their strengths and weaknesses are, and that they have the support needed to achieve their upmost potential. It’s a great idea to set up regular 1-on-1’s with team members so feedback is established as an ongoing process.
Coaching is an increasingly important part of a modern manager's job. It’s key to get comfortable with coaching people by building genuine, unique relationships with your team members, using feedback efficiently, and listening to people to find out what they want and where they feel they’re headed. Once you’re collaborating like this and leading your team in the direction they need, you’re well on your way to coaching a happy and motivated team to success.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova