You know you need to coach your staff. If they perform well, you perform well.

And if you aren’t currently measured on your “ability to coach and develop others” — that’s likely to change soon.

Coaching from an outside expert continues to be important, but increasingly, organizations are looking at on-the-job coaching as a vital tool for developing talent and meeting performance goals. And you, the manager, play the key role.

The problem is that leaders are being held accountable for developing others, but few are taught effective ways to coach. They end up giving reviews, meeting occasionally, and giving advice.

That’s why we’ve been helping leader coaches understand how they can be an effective coach and boiling it down to specific actions.

Whether you are a professional coach or a leader with coaching responsibilities, you need to establish the relationship; incorporate assessment, challenge, and support; and push for results.

To gauge your effectiveness in each of these areas, consider the following elements adapted from our Coaching for Greater Effectiveness program and 360-degree assessment:

How to Coach Your People Infographic Center for Creative Leadership

Relationships: How well do you establish boundaries and build trust? To create an effective coaching relationship, you need to:

  • Be clear about learning and development objectives.
  • Show good judgment about what information to share and what to hold private.
  • Be clear about the impact of your own behavior on employees.
  • Be patient.
  • Show integrity.
  • Follow through on promises or agreements.
  • Continually show that you have employees’ best interests in mind.

Assessment: Do you skillfully help others gain self-awareness and insight? If so, the actions you take will include the following:

  • Provide timely feedback.
  • Explore the gap between current and desired performance.
  • Help employees discover situations where their impact is different from their intentions.
  • Gain clarity about the behaviors that employees would like to change.
  • Note inconsistencies between words and actions.

Challenge: Do you effectively challenge the thinking and assumptions of others? Do you encourage them to practice new behaviors and step outside of their comfort zone? As a coach, you might challenge employees by:

  • Helping them explore the unintended consequences of a potential action or behaviors.
  • Encouraging them to generate alternative solutions to problems.
  • Asking open-ended questions.
  • Encouraging them to take reasonable risks.

Support: How well do you listen? Are you able to understand the coachee’s perspective and find ways to engage them in the coaching and development process — even through difficulty? Support comes in many forms, including:

  • Listening carefully to the ideas and suggestions of others.
  • Being open to others’ perspectives.
  • Allowing employees to vent emotions without judgment.
  • Encouraging employees to make progress toward their goals.
  • Recognizing the success of employees.

Results: Do you help coachees set meaningful goals and be accountable for them? If so, you are likely to help employees identify:

  • Goals that will have the greatest positive impact on their effectiveness.
  • Specific behaviors that will lead to achieving their goals.
  • Specific metrics and milestones that employees can use to measure progress.

Once managers have the tools and some practice under their belts, they will find that coaching is an effective way to develop and motivate direct reports. But managers will benefit, too. As you improve your coaching skills, you’re developing leadership capabilities that have benefits in other work relationships as well. A manager’s ability to build relationships, elicit information, challenge assumptions, support others, and clarify goals goes a long way.

How to Create a Coaching Culture

Giving individual leaders the information they need to be effective coaches is Step 1. But organizations that want to build a coaching culture will also want to:

  • “Seed” the organization with coaching role models.
  • Link coaching outcomes to the business.
  • Coach senior leadership teams.
  • Recognize and reward coaching behaviors.
  • Integrate coaching with other people-management processes.

Learn more about our Coaching for Greater Effectiveness program that explores these practices more in depth.

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