Discover four strategic approaches to enrolling your people in coaching, what each approach accomplishes, and how to determine when to use each one.
In my last post which you can read here, I shared a template that any manager can use when beginning the process of enrolling or re-enrolling their direct reports in a coaching relationship. And after reading the template, you, like many of the managers who read this, may have one of these three common reactions.
1: “This template sounds great! I can’t wait to use this.”
2: “It sounds good, however, I would tweak it a little bit so it sounds more like my style.”
3: “The message sounds good, however, I would never tell my reports that I’m first learning how to coach or how to do it better and that I learned how to in a course.”
Before we explore these three points, lets dissect the intention behind this template and what each section accomplishes. I’ve broken the template into four distinct sections below.
1: “What I want for you is to experience the level of fulfillment and success that you really want in your career.”
What This Accomplishes: This statement demonstrates the stand you are willing to take for your employees. This positions the conversation in the most engaging way possible and what they would want to hear most – something beneficial for them! Notice, there’s no hidden agenda the manager wove in this statement, which could sound like, “What I want for you is to make your number this quarter and have a job next month!” First, this type of statement states something specific that you want vs. what they want as in, “the level of success you want in your career.” Second it implies a negative (have a job next month) which doesn’t sound very empowering from the receiving end of that message!
2: “And, after completing this management coach training program, I learned that, just like technology continues to evolve, so does the way managers engage with their team in order to maximize each person’s true potential. Think about sports. The coach is there to make sure each player is always at the top of their game.”
What This Accomplishes: You’re providing a timely context as to why you’re introducing this conversation in the first place. In addition, using analogies that people can understand helps solidify and build your case for coaching. More so, it makes the concept of coaching, which could be new to someone, something that’s more familiar to them so they can relate to and connect with coaching in a more comfortable way.
3: “That said, I learned how I can be a better manager and coach for you so that I can support you in a way that would make you even more successful. Keep in mind, this learning curve is something that we’re both going to experience together.”
What This Accomplishes: This is a critical component in this conversation. First, you’re letting your people know that you are learning something new that will make them even more successful. Second, you’re creating an environment where it’s safe for your people to learn and adapt to this change over time regarding how you’ll be engaging with them through coaching. Finally, it also gives you the space you’ll need to learn and improve on your coaching, especially if you don’t get it “perfect” the first time around (and trust me, you won’t). This way, you and your direct reports can walk away from every coaching interaction with an opportunity to evaluate and refine it, all in the spirit of continuous improvement to deliver the most value.
4: “So, I wanted to take some time to talk about what your perception of coaching is so that we can come up with a mutually agreed upon understanding and definition of coaching, set some measurable expectations and parameters around our coaching and what I can do to make this the most valuable experience that I can for you. How do you feel about discussing this? Are you open to discussing this now?”
What This Accomplishes: This is all about taking their pulse, evening the playing field and setting the expectations of what coaching is, including what your role will be as a coach, as well as the role of your employees. It also provides for the opportunity to create a universal understanding of what coaching is, which addresses any limiting assumptions and concerns around coaching. After all, what if the person you’re speaking with had a horrible past experience being coached? Or, what if they perceive coaching as something you do to fix someone or is only used for underperformers?
If not addressed, these assumptions and experiences that your people are carrying around will most likely get in the way of even your best efforts. Most important, this dialogue focuses on them and what they want from coaching, and not about you and what you want.
Finally, the last two questions provide the person a chance to share their feedback, and whether or not it’s the best time to engage in this conversation. After all, depending upon the timing and when you approach someone will determine the level of engagement or disengagement you can expect. Sure, you’re their boss and they ‘have to’ listen to you. But what if the person you want to speak with just had a really bad conversation with a customer, lost a deal or is simply having a bad day? Pushing a conversation on someone when they’re not in the best state of mind to receive it will be the difference between them simply hearing you and the words coming out of your mouth and being engaged with you and bought into what you’re saying.
In my next post, we’re going to explore the three most common reactions I hear from managers which I mentioned early on in Part Two here. There’s an important lesson and potential pitfall that managers need to be acutely mindful of and avoid if you want your coaching to land well, so keep your eye out for Part Three!
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