As a leader you have multiple opportunities to transform your team through coaching. If you know this is true but still feel like too many of these opportunities slip through your fingers, you could learn a thing or two from Marco.
Marco, a manager who participated in one of my management coach training programs, shared this story with me two days after he competed this training, right after a coaching experience he had with one of his salespeople.
He told me he was at work, walking down the hallway towards his office. Miguel, one of his direct reports walked up to Marco and asked him if he could help with a problem he was having regarding one of his key accounts and moving this selling opportunity through his pipeline and towards the close. He needed to call this customer back later today and wasn’t sure how to drive the conversation forward.
Marco remembered what he learned from some of the coaching simulations that he did during the training and, instead of reacting by delivering a quick solution so that he could move ahead and get back to his office and all of the other pressing tasks he had on his plate for the day, he recognized this was one of his defining moments – a coaching opportunity. As such, he stopped, paused, and started asking Miguel some questions.
As a manager, what questions would YOU ask Miguel at this point?
Here were just a few coaching questions that Marco asked Miguel:
- What is the specific outcome you’re looking for when you speak to this customer?
- How do you envision accomplishing this?
- Tell me what you’ve tried so far?
- What are some other ideas you feel might work?
- How have you handled something like this in the past?
- Based on what we’ve just discussed, what’s going to be your strategy moving forward with this customer?
Marco told me that, at the end of this conversation, not only did Miguel come up with a solution on his own, one that he felt really good about, but it was a better solution than the one that Marco would have given him!
Miguel walked away from that conversation, with a greater sense of confidence, especially since he felt empowered by coming up with the best solution on his own. He also felt truly listened to and acknowledged, which strengthened the trust and relationship he has with his boss.
Good Coaching Feels Good
The added benefit that Marco reported on was, the very next day after his conversation with Miguel, Miguel informed Marco that he had another situation with a customer, similar to the one they discussed the day before. Because of the coaching Marco provided, Miguel reported that he was able to create the solution on his own without having to come to Marco about it!
Now, multiply the number of conversations you have like this, per day with every one of your direct reports. How much time do you think you’ll save so that you can focus on developing your people and your business, instead of continually running from one fire to the next?
Think about what we’ve achieved here. Think about your own management style. Now, think about the conversation that transpired between Marco, the manager and his salesperson.
This experience encapsulates many of the lessons when it comes to delivering masterful coaching. The coach’s mindset, such as being curious, being patient, being process driven; building trust, facilitating conversations through better questions and uncovering The Gap, tapping into people’s individuality and of course, the very essence of masterful coaching, abandoning your role as Chief Problem Solver.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what great coaching looks and sounds like and the steps you can take to prepare yourself, as well as your team for coaching, start recognizing all the coaching opportunities you have in front of you.
Start challenging your current way of thinking and most important, start asking more and better coaching questions to further develop your team’s problem solving skills when you’re people come to you, looking for the answer.
Final Tip From Your Coach:
Realize that the best coaching moments aren’t always going to present themselves when it’s convenient for you, or during a scheduled coaching session.
That’s why I refer to these moments as defining moments. It’s your moment of truth, your moment to choose whether you react as you have in the past and continue to re-create the same results as before – or respond by taking a step back, and create the space for masterful coaching to occur.
Remember the A.B.C.’s of coaching. Always Be Coaching. In every conversation, in every interaction, allow coaching to become your new standard of thinking, communicating and how you engage your team.
To drive this point home, let me leave you with this final question.
How do you change a culture? How do you transform talent?
One person at a time. One conversation at a time.
The change starts with you. And that is great news because transforming the talent on your team really is all in your power.