Have you ever felt like you want more for people than they want for themselves? Sometimes we want so much for others to be happy, successful, and satisfied that we instill our own agenda into the coaching process. Align the potential you see in others with their personal goals or risk pushing your consistent performers out the door.
While coaching is about stretching and challenging someone to attain more than they would be able to on their own, sometimes what they can achieve, what they want to achieve, and what is in their best interest are in conflict with each other. Therefore, when coaching people, it’s not always about what is possible, realistic, or attainable.
The Consequence of Your Good Intentions
Instead, it’s more about what your employees want, what they need, and what is most aligned with their personal and professional vision and goals. Subsequently, this shapes the focus of your coaching and helps define the right priorities to address. If pushed too hard, you might find yourself pushing a solid B player to the point they quit.
And if they don’t quit, how do you think this affects the level of trust they have in you? Now, this person feels that all you do is push your own goals and agenda on them without honoring what they want most!
While it’s the responsibility of the leader to support, coach and develop their people to live their fullest potential, you also need to respectful and mindful of what is most important to them.
Don’t Be Seduced by the Potential You See in Others
Sure, you can look at some of the talent on your team and say, “If only they worked a little harder, put more time into developing themselves and focused on increasing their sales activity, they could make more money and be an A player!”
The challenge is, what if the person doesn’t want to be an A player? What if they’re happy just being a B player? What if they don’t want to make more money? What if they don’t want to work harder because they value their life balance and the time they have with their family more than the additional money they can make?
Sure, they may not be setting the world on fire and blowing out their sales targets but they are still a solid, non-toxic contributor and good corporate citizen. And while every manager wants to develop a team of A players, every team needs and can afford to have some B performers who still consistently contribute to your bottom line and sales objectives.
Conversely, there’s never room at the winner’s table for the C players, since no manager can afford to have these underperformers on their team.
Who Determines the Value of Your Coaching?
In truth, the real measurement of value derived from the coaching relationship is determined by the person you are coaching and how they define value rather than how you define it. While this might sound counterintuitive, you need to surrender your attachment to pushing this type of person to realize their potential and respect their personal goals as well as what is most important to them.
When you do so, you may be surprised that at some point, your B player may decide, due to a change in their life or priorities, (getting married, divorced, buying a house, having children and so on) that they are ready and willing to become a top performer!
So, coach each person to be the best they can be, while respecting their unique boundaries, values and what they need most from you during every conversation. Rather than assume what they want, it’s going to be the questions you ask that uncover the role they want you to play and what they need from you most from you at that moment.
Let People Create Their Own Breakthroughs
For example, sometimes the people you coach are simply looking for a sounding board, a safe place and an unconditional, non-judgmental ear to simply listen. After all, how often do you have someone in your corner that you can go to; just to be heard; without being judged? And if you don’t often get it, especially as a manager; then it’s often difficult to give this gift of unrestricted listening to someone else, especially if you haven’t experienced the value of being unconditionally listened to yourself or get this from your boss.
I know there have been countless coaching sessions I’ve had where, during an hour long conversation, all I did in that conversation was ask a few questions. Inevitably, at the end of the conversation, the person I was coaching would say, “Thanks, Keith, for that advice. That was really valuable for me.”
Now, I didn’t give them any advice nor did I offer my opinion. What I did was provide them what they needed most. That is, the space for them to self-reflect and process their own thoughts through completely to the point where they arrived at their own conclusion all by themselves. In that conversation, that’s what the person wanted and valued most, rather than me providing a quick solution, advice or direction.
Coaching Isn’t About the Coach
Realize that when you’re coaching and supporting someone, it doesn’t always equate to having to fix a problem or provide an answer. Unfortunately, the challenge for most managers is, there’s a certain degree of re-wiring that needs to happen, as most managers are focused on searching out problems that need to be fixed. Why? Because that’s what many managers perceive their role to be. That is, to fix things.
Instead of pushing someone too hard or always forcing your point of view, shift your thinking and perception around coaching and what it means to truly support others in a way they want to be supported, not the way you think they should be supported. Rather than continually manage and coach in your own image, now, the real value other people receive from your coaching can be created organically during every conversation.
Photo Credit: Keith Nerdin