Executive coach and guest velocity guru Beth Armknecht Miller offers her sage advice on how to cultivate your coaching skills to motivate employees for great achievement in your organization.
A coach is someone who instructs and trains a team or person. Coaching is a critical competency for today’s leaders, but not every leader knows how to be a better coach. Without knowledge of how to coach, a leader will be at a disadvantage. Coaching has been shown to deliver a number of benefits including:
- Increased performance
- Communication skills
- Better work relationships
- Increase employee engagement
- Reduce turnover
Before coaching one of your team members, it is important that you have a positive relationship with the person. The greater the rapport between you and your team member, the more trust the coachee will have in working with you. As trust is built, the coaching process will progress quicker and be more effective.
Once you’ve established a good rapport, share why your coaching will be important to the coachee. Reinforce to him that coaching is about growth, development, and learning by focusing on the future and not past performance. The goal will be to develop him to his full potential and ultimately open up new career opportunities.
During your coaching conversations, use these techniques to make them productive:
1. Be curious and ask lots of questions.
Start with open-ended questions- ones that start with “what” and “how, and try not to use “why” questions. “Why” can make a person defensive. Curiosity builds relationships while judging will kill relationships. Curiosity demonstrates that you are interested in the coachee and builds trust in your relationship.
2. Actively listen.
To be truly curious, you have to set aside your own opinions and ideas, and listen to the answers to your questions in order to fully understand what the person is saying. Don’t interrupt. Paraphrase back to them to make sure you understand what he said. This demonstrates respect to the person talking.
3. Mirror their style.
Observe the pace of their speech and speak at their pace. How are they sitting? If they are leaning in, you do the same. Are they being active using their hands? Then use your hands as well. This technique, when naturally delivered, helps put the coachee at ease.
4. Be focused on the person.
Meet in a place that is quiet and has no distractions. Turn off your PDA, tablet, phone etc. Make it easy on yourself to focus. If you need to take some notes, make them brief and use pen and paper. Use appropriate eye contact. Focusing intently on them shows you care and will increase rapport.
5. Be empathetic.
Ask yourself: Why does this person feel this way? What can I do to make the situation better? When you acknowledge and understand where they are coming from you build trust and people will perceive you as real and relatable. If a leader can demonstrate true empathy to an individual, it will go a long way toward encouraging the person to perform at his best. Simply put, empathy starts with giving others the benefit of the doubt. Empathy makes us more flexible and compassionate.
6. Ask for permission.
When you have observed a behavior or action that needs correction, ask the person “Can I share an observation with you?” This shows you care, builds respect, and gets the attention of the person being asked. It is rare that you will get a “no” in response to this question. After getting permission, focus on actions and behaviors, not the person.
When you consistently implement these techniques the trust and respect your coachee has for you will increase and the coachee will grow to their full potential.
About the author
Senior Associate, Dynamic Results LLC
Beth Armknecht Miller is a Senior Associate at Dynamic Results LLC, a boutique firm offering strategy implementation, accountability and leadership development solutions. Beth is a trusted executive advisor, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is passionate about building sustainable leadership within small to midsize organizations, which will engage employees, increase performance, and build enterprise value. Her latest book is "Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers."