Coaching is an effective way to impart knowledge. It can benefit you, the coachee and your business, says Steve Webster of Video Arts, the learning content specialist.
Delegating effectively is one of the toughest challenges for any business owner. If something needs to be done, you might think it is quicker to just do it yourself but sharing your expertise, by coaching others, can help you to free up your own time and motivate your employees. So, here are ten tips on how you can coach your people and increase their performance and potential:
1. Choose an appropriate time and place. Try to find somewhere that’s conducive to coaching, away from distractions and interruptions.
2. Start by identifying the goals. It’s important to consider what you and the coachee expect to get out of the coaching. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for you? Talk to them about what they need. Ask about how they see themselves developing and if there are any areas where coaching may help. Articulate the goals in terms of what the coachee will be able to do.
3. Set some targets. Break things down into a logical sequence of manageable stages, so that the coachee’s understanding, skills and confidence can be built up slowly, step by step. Show them how to get to each target. Explain how you will work together to overcome any difficulties.
4. Pick the right tone. Think about how you’ll come across to the coachee. Don’t be patronising. Treat others in the way that you’d like to be treated yourself. Allow yourself to be coached, to see how it feels to be on the receiving end.
5. Promote discovery. If you’re coaching someone to do something specific, show them how to do it first. Go through it together and then let them try to do it on their own. Don’t just throw them in at the deep end without any preparation. You can destroy their confidence by going too fast or asking too much of them.
6. Listen to them. Look interested, make eye contact and think about your body language. Don’t prejudge what they will say. It is easy to hear what you expect someone to say rather than what they actually say, particularly if they are hesitant. Use summaries and questions to ensure you’ve fully understood them.
7. Treat them as equals. There is an advantage to admitting that you have made mistakes in the past. If you can show that you’ve learnt from things that you’ve got wrong before, it can encourage them to do the same.
8. Use praise and constructive criticism. Praise is a dish that’s best served hot, so do it immediately, don’t save it up for later. Good praise is specific. Focus on what was particularly good. What are they getting right? Try to be constructive if they make a mistake. Encourage them to discover for themselves what went wrong.
9. Resist the urge to tell them what to do. Ask questions. Get them to think about how they can improve. Hold back on your judgement of their solutions. Try to build on their ideas. This can lead to new ways of doing things. Ask: ‘how can we resolve this together?’ Encourage them to come up with solutions based on their own knowledge and experience.
10. Follow up afterwards. It’s unlikely that your coaching sessions will have covered every eventuality. After each session, always check on their progress. Provide any necessary resources and put everything in place to allow them to do their job properly. Make sure they know where to get help if they need it.
Although you have to invest the time initially to get people up to speed, coaching can save you time in the long run. It can not only facilitate individual development and benefit your business, it can be personally rewarding for you as the coach too.