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To Coach is to Care

    Over the past decade, the coaching industry has exploded into every nook and cranny of our lives. Careers, leadership, health, fitness, and the art of simply living – there’s a coach for it all!  There’s an unmistakable pulse, a collective heartbeat resonating through the world. It’s the sound of people craving that extra oomph, the yearning to level up and thrive. Your employees are no exception; they’re feeling it too! 

    Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.

    Pete Carroll

    What is a Coach?

    Ever watched a sports movie where the coach delivers an epic speech and the underdogs go on to victory? As glamorous as that sounds, real coaching goes beyond a pep talk. A great coach doesn’t just talk; they listen, ask brilliant questions, and guide people to self-discovery. Coaching is not a one-shot deal; it is slow and deliberate and encourages incremental growth. A fantastic coach is disciplined, understanding, genuinely curious, and patient.

    The work environment is challenging, which means it is more important than ever for leaders to coach. Stick around to discover why coaching is vital and how you can become a top-notch coach.

    Why Coaching Matters at Work

    Outstanding leaders genuinely care about their employees’ growth and encourage self-discovery. Sure, there’s a place for teaching and giving orders, but for real, lasting growth, coaching takes center stage. It’s where you unlock the secrets of sticky learning and achieve results that last.

    Picture this scenario: You’re having a performance conversation with an employee, listing out their strengths and weaknesses. How does that typically land with them? It’s like a fleeting breeze, here one moment and gone the next. But what if, instead, you give them space to reflect on how to capitalize on their strengths and chart a course to improve their weaknesses? Suddenly, you’ve transformed that conversation into a catalyst for lasting change.

    Embracing coaching within your workplace brings a host of benefits:

    • Better retention. When you demonstrate a sincere interest in your employees’ growth and development, you ignite their engagement and make them feel supported and valued.
    • Performance enhancement and improved productivity.  People only truly reach their peak when they’re in a constant state of growth and evolution. Coaching becomes the accelerator, propelling them toward their potential. Self-discovery is one of the most potent avenues for personal development..
    • Open communication and meaningful connections. Coaching doesn’t just open doors; it tears down walls. Active listening and thoughtful discussions transform the stagnant flow of communication into a stream of ideas and collaboration.
    • A boost in confidence.  As employees actively engage in problem-solving and decision-making through internal reflection, their confidence blooms.
    • Improved perspective. The channels of open communication and self-discovery not only widen but usher in a whole new world of understanding for everyone involved.
    • Identifying potential.  Coaching isn’t just about current performance; it’s a treasure hunt for aspirations, motivations, and latent capabilities.  You’ll find unlimited potential in those especially keen to soak up the learning coaching provides.
    • Sharpened problem-solving skills. Coaching encourages people to think on a deeper, more profound level.
    • Self-awareness. One of the hidden gems of coaching is the mirror it holds up to individuals, helping them become aware of their strengths and areas ripe for development.

    What’s in It For You?

    Now, all these perks aren’t just for your employees; they’re for you too! A collaborative, engaged workforce ultimately benefits you. You’ll gain confidence in your leadership, better understanding, a broader perspective, and an enhanced personal brand. Become known as the manager who brings out the best in your team and develops future leaders.

    Seek out coaching opportunities for yourself as well. We can all benefit from coaching because:

    • You don’t know what you don’t know
    • Our personal world is small
    • Our perspective is limited
    • Insights are lasting
    • Self-awareness is magical

    Now, this all sounds good, but where do you start?

    My Coaching Experience

    I was fortunate to receive formal coaching training, but what truly leveled up my coaching game was practice. Just like any skill, it involves commitment, learning, practice, reflection, revision, and repetition. Sound familiar? It’s the foundation of the Amazing Managers website – how you grow your skills.

    I started as a performance enhancement coach for senior leaders whose jobs I’d never done. Scary, right? How on earth could I provide value to people when I don’t know how to do their job? And they are the big bosses! Why would they listen to me?

    As it happened, they didn’t listen to me, I listened to them. I observed and asked respectful, curious questions which resulted in self-realization. The outcome was far better than I anticipated. What’s incredible is that you can provide value to people without knowing their job by keeping the fundamentals of coaching in mind.

    Now, let’s look at how you can start coaching your team.

    How to Be a Coach

    You don’t need a professional coaching accreditation to coach employees. While professional training can be valuable, it’s not accessible to everyone. The key lies in changing how you approach conversations and, of course, practicing.

    When you’re engaging in formal coaching, start with a goal. For example, you can:

    ➡️coach to a skill
    ➡️coach for performance enhancement
    ➡️coach to career advancement

    Once you’ve established why you are coaching, you can move on to how you will coach.

    Recipe for Effective Coaching

    Great coaching requires the right ingredients, a dash of technique, and a sprinkle of insight. In this section, we’ll uncover a recipe to transform ordinary conversations into powerful coaching sessions.

    1. Open Questions – Getting the Conversation Started

    Coaching requires changing your conversation style. Instead of simply telling or directing, it’s about igniting curiosity and encouraging reflection through thoughtful questioning.

    To ease into this concept, start with some straightforward questions that stimulate the thinking process.

    For Individual Coaching

    Skill coaching:

    • What further skills do you need to excel in your role?
    • What resources or training opportunities do you believe would be most helpful in acquiring the skills you need?

    Performance enhancement:

    • What steps have you taken to achieve goal (x)?
    • How do you measure progress toward your performance goals?
    • What indicators suggest you’re on the right track to achieve your goals?

    Career advancement:

    • What aspects of your role matter most to you?
    • What specific roles or positions align with your long-term career aspirations?
    • What steps can you take to position yourself for those opportunities?

    For Team Coaching

    How might we approach this situation from a different angle?
    When it comes to our customers, what outcomes are we striving for?
    What’s our logical next step in this scenario?

    These are only a few samples of questions you can ask. The goal is to ask those that serve as a catalyst for engaging dialogues. There’s no right or wrong question, just practice, and ensure the question is open-ended. Initially, responses may be somewhat vague, but the key is to kickstart the conversations.

    2. Listening – The Heart of Effective Coaching

    True coaching thrives on listening.  And I don’t mean passive listening where your mind drifts to lunch plans or to-do lists while someone speaks. We’re talking deep, attentive listening—the kind where you’re fully present in the conversation.

    Now, let’s admit it; listening is a skill that can be challenging to master. It requires focus and practice. Here are a few tips to help you ramp up your skills:

    • Be Present: When you’re in a coaching conversation, be all in. Put away distractions, silence your phone, and give your full attention to the person you’re coaching.
    • Maintain Eye Contact: Engage visually, and don’t underestimate the power of eye contact. It shows you’re focused and attentive.
    • Avoid Interrupting: Let the speaker finish their thoughts before responding. Interruptions can break the flow and hinder the speaker’s expression.
    •  Paraphrase and Clarify: Periodically summarize what you’ve heard to ensure you understand correctly. This also demonstrates your commitment to their words.
    • Use Non-Verbal Cues: Nodding, smiling, and using facial expressions can show that you’re actively engaged and encouraging the conversation.
    • Reflect Emotions: Try to understand and acknowledge the emotions behind what’s being said. This can lead to more meaningful discussions.
    •  Be Patient: Sometimes, silence is golden. Allow for pauses; they give space for deeper thoughts and insights to emerge.
    • Resist the Urge to Judge: Keep an open mind and withhold judgment. This encourages honesty and openness in your coaching sessions.
    • Practice Empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Understand their perspective and feelings to build trust and rapport.

    Remember, effective coaching is a two-way street, and active listening is your vehicle to understanding, connection, and growth. Master this skill, and you’re well on your way to becoming an exceptional coach.

    3. Interest and Curiosity – Diving Beneath the Surface

    Your first response from a coaching question is just the tip of the iceberg. Dig deeper by being genuinely curious to discover the details of the response. Keep your questions and statements simple and engaging:

    • Tell me more about that.
    • Paint a picture of how that will look.
    • What else?
    • How will you accomplish that?
    • What do you see as the next step?

    It can be tempting to ask a lot of ‘Why’ questions; however, that can feel like an interrogation. Instead, go for, “I’m curious about that, tell me more.” Remember, your aim is genuine intent – to encourage people to think and discover.

    4. Patience – Nurturing Growth over Time

     Most people won’t suddenly have an epiphany just because you ask them a few questions. Coaching takes time and patience to net results. Listening and probing also takes patience. Leaving space for silence is critical.

    1. Navigating Silence: Often, in the quest for answers, there will be moments of silence. These silences aren’t awkward pauses; they are opportunities for reflection and deep thinking. As a coach, you must have the patience to allow these spaces to exist without rushing to fill them.

    2. The Art of Listening: Active listening is about more than just hearing words; it’s about comprehending emotions, intentions, and nuances. Patience is required to truly understand what someone is conveying beyond the surface.

    3. Allowing for Progress: Patience isn’t just about waiting; it’s about understanding that growth happens at its own pace. People may need time to absorb new ideas, reevaluate their thinking, and make changes.

    4. Building Trust: Patience fosters trust. When you demonstrate that you’re in no hurry to reach a resolution or judgment, individuals feel safe to express themselves honestly and authentically.

    5. Respecting the Journey: Every individual’s path to self-discovery and development is unique. Patience is your way of respecting and honoring their personal journey.

    In the world of coaching, patience is not a passive state; it’s an active commitment to allowing growth to unfold naturally. So, while the results may not be instant, remember that the seeds you plant with patience can lead to profound and lasting transformations. 

    5. Understanding – Navigating Resistance and Encouraging Growth

    Initially, not everyone may welcome coaching. Some employees might find it uncomfortable If you haven’t used this approach before. They’ll wonder why you aren’t just giving them the answers or telling them what to do! Now, you’re challenging them to think. 🤔

    Understand that this is a natural response to change and a lack of familiarity with the coaching process. People may not see the immediate benefit, or they may feel that self-discovery is an uncharted territory not worth exploring.

    To ease this transition, set the stage at the outset of your coaching journey. Clearly communicate the purpose and benefits of coaching, emphasizing that it’s not about relinquishing your role as a leader but enhancing it. Share success stories and examples from within your organization to illustrate the positive outcomes of coaching.

    Furthermore, it’s vital to show progress along the way. Highlight instances where coaching has led to improved problem-solving, enhanced performance, or personal growth. These real-world examples can help skeptical individuals see the value of the coaching process.

    There you have it! Speaking of recipes, coaching is intense, hard work. You will need extra sustenance on hand to keep you going.  Personally, I recommend dream bars!🍫😀.

    Finding Opportunities to Coach

    Formal coaching sessions are great, but you can also sprinkle coaching magic throughout your daily interactions. Embrace informal coaching daily. It happens when you train, problem-solve, provide feedback, engage in tough conversations, or during team meetings.

    Anytime you encourage someone to think, reflect, and self-discover, you are coaching, and the result is magical.

    Ponder Points

    What coaching techniques do I already incorporate in my leadership style, and how can I enhance or expand upon them to benefit my team further?

    Do I currently prioritize self-discovery in my interactions with my team, and if not, what steps can I take to create a more coaching-oriented environment?

    How can I better balance the role of a manager who provides guidance and a coach who encourages self-discovery within my leadership approach?

    What skills do I need to work on to improve my coaching?

    What specific actions can I take in the coming week to start incorporating coaching into my daily interactions with my team?

    What experience have you had with coaching? Share your thoughts and questions!

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