“I’ve tried coaching my team. It didn’t work.” Really? Was it the coaching that didn’t work, the manager’s coaching that didn’t work or was it more about how the coaching was delivered that didn’t work?
As a manager, there are many things to consider when rolling out a coaching program for your team that will lead to a successful initiative, a mediocre one or a coaching program that will go down in flames. Since my last book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, I’ve been spending the majority of my time (every week!) delivering my management coach training programs for both domestic and global organizations. And the more I deliver my program, whether it’s to a team of sales managers who want to learn how to facilitate more effective sales coaching interactions with their salespeople that drives more sales or to a team of executives, VP’s and senior leaders who are in the position where they can provide a deeper layer of support by authentically coaching their management team, the more I find consistencies as to why coaching doesn’t work.
For any company wide coaching initiative to be effective and long-lasting within your organization, there are important obstacles that a manager or internal sales coach needs to address. Rather than do a deep dive into each of these 10 points, leverage this as more of a checklist for you to use before rolling out your coaching program.
If you’ve already attempted to coach your people and have experienced varying degrees of success, do not give up! This checklist can be used for you to diagnose where the breakdown is so that you can recalibrate your coaching efforts and overcome some of the obstacles that may have been outside of your line of vision.
The Top Ten Reasons Why Coaching Fails When Managers Attempt to Coach Their Team
1. Coaching in Your Own Image
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I already know the ‘right’ way to sell which has always worked for me. So if I were you, I would do it this way.” Note: Your building robots using this approach, not tapping into people’s individuality.
2. Poor Positioning
How did you set the expectations of coaching? “All the underperformers, please stand up! Here’s your chance to redeem yourself!” Ouch. This “Broken Wing Mentality” (Remedial Coaching) doesn’t create an atmosphere where everyone would want to be coached.
3. Past Experiences
“I’ve already tried to coach my people. It didn’t work.” Well, maybe it’s more about how you tried to enroll them in coaching that didn’t work. Every day, more and more statistics and surveys are showing the R.O.I. that good coaching generates. It’s time to do some self analysis and ask yourself what role you’re playing in this.
4. Inconsistent Coaching and Support
Sure, you may have been excited to coach your team but what message are you sending them when you cancel that coaching session you scheduled with them, regardless of how good a reason you had, your employee is thinking is “I guess I’m/the coaching isn’t a priority/important enough.”
5. No Training
The manager is not trained in coaching. It’s tougher than you think, especially around observation techniques and delivering actionable feedback that drives positive change and measurable results. This leads to two other challenges.
- Hollow Coaching – Focusing on the ‘what’ rather than going deeper to uncover the ‘why.’ Managers are good at uncovering what’s going on; you can see that by looking at a monthly activity report. Where managers drop the ball is uncovering why the behavior is going on or the actual reason behind the lack of activity. This often leads to something that many managers experience, which is:
- Repetitive Coaching – “Now we’ve already had this conversation five times over the last month. Looking at your activity the problem is you need to make more calls. So, make more calls! Call reluctance you say? Well, you just have to be more resilient.” Can you envision the salesperson walking out of that conversation with a powerful epiphany?
6. Event Based
The coaching is event based rather than culturally based to ensure long-term consistency. No coaching plan – no long term success.
7. The Manager Assumes They Have the Trust of Their Staff
This is a common challenge amongst many teams which breeds the resistance to coaching at the very core. Your experience as a manager is one thing that can inhibit your coaching effectiveness but what about your employee’s experience either with you or their prior manager? What if they had a prior experience that was less than favorable? Has this been addressed? Do your people really and truly trust you? How do you really know? Conversely, maybe the manager doesn’t really want to coach or doesn’t believe in coaching or maybe the manager doesn’t have the full authentic commitment to want to make their people more valuable and truly put them first. This is also felt by your team and will affect the level of trust you can foster.
8. The Manager Is Coaching the Wrong People
“I only coach the underperformers and leave the top performers alone.” What a great strategy if you want to send the message that coaching is ONLY for the underperformers, while isolating your top performers. Then we wonder why we’re losing our good people. Everyone wants the attention of their manager but for different reasons and we need to align our coaching with where we can deliver the most value for them, individually.
9. Investing the Right Time with the Wrong Approach or Conversation
I can keep spending time pushing on a brick wall but that wall is never going to move. Just like I can say I’m investing the time coaching but am I truly coaching my people or am I simply doing what I did yesterday and relabeling it coaching? I can tell you that this is probably the biggest challenge I see amongst management teams today. That is, they think they’re coaching but they are not. The role plays and skill practice scenarios that I do during every training event continually support this to be true.
10. Toxic Management Style
- No patience. Here’s a tip – there’s no such thing as speed coaching. One of the most valuable parts of coaching is creating a safe place for your people to process and self reflect. You don’t always get that in a five minute interaction and if you rush the coaching process, you are only robbing you and your people of a powerful coaching experience. Remember, just because they don’t ‘get it’ as fast as you do or as fast as you think they should doesn’t make them wrong or less valuable. Honor and respect where each of your performers are regarding their own learning style and path of development.
- Misconceptions of what coaching is from both the manager and the salesperson. Time to even the playing field by uncovering each person’s perception of coaching, creating a universal definition of coaching and then setting the expectations on both sides.
- Managers not modeling it, walking their talk
Photo Credit: Nima Badiey