When most people think of the word "coach" they immediately imagine someone on the sidelines screaming at players to do a better job. While that may be true in certain sports situations, in business a coach needs to have a completely different approach to help employees improve performance.
Let's have a look at the role of a manager/coach and how that integrates with employee development. Where does traditional training come in? How does training relate to coaching? And what are the differences between training and coaching?
The process starts with training. Let's say you're training a group. What usually happens is most of the group understands, learns, and benefits from the information you've taught. Unfortunately, not everyone "gets it." What do we do about that small percentage of employees — often good, conscientious people — who may need personalized attention after training? Those are the ones who need coaching.
Remember that coaching is strategically guiding someone into improving performance. It's analyzing feedback to see the areas where the training hasn't taken hold. Is remedial training needed? That's where the coaching comes in. These are the people who need one-on-one customized help to develop their skills.
So for effective coaching in a business environment, consider the 4 Cs of Coaching:
- Congratulations or Continuation
Concurrence is critical. Unless you and the trainee agree (concur) that there is a gap, and he commits to the improvement that's needed, you won't be able to coach to your full capacity for effectiveness. Both you and the employee need to concur there is an issue.
Content. You must identify the content that needs to be improved. What exactly needs to be done? What are some of the issues involved? Normally where coaching is needed, it's either because the employee doesn't know how to do the job (they just don't "get it") or doesn't want to do the job. You need to find out which it is. Coach and employee need to concur on the content. Only then can they make a commitment to solve it.
Commitment. Obtain a commitment to solve the problem. Normally we're working with an intelligent, conscientious employee who wants to do a good job. With some coaching, the job will be done right.
Congratulations or Continuation. Once you and the employee have agreed on the content, you have given them the instruction on how to do it correctly, and the employee commits to the process, it's time for congratulations. Let him know he's done a good job. This is critical. In a worst-case scenario, it's continuation of the process as a little more work might be needed with some employees to reach the congratulations step.
When you determine an employee needs some coaching, take a few minutes to plan a coaching approach that should improve the performance of that employee. It's easier and more effective to think about what you're going to do before you do it. So formulate your plan and decide when you're going to do your coaching.
One more thing: Coaching, while immediate, should also be done in private. Coaching in public can embarrass an employee and undermine the result you hope to achieve.
Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor, a customer service training company in St. Louis, MO. She is a featured speaker at association and corporate meetings. To receive her free monthly e-mail article on customer service and a free subscription to the Telephone Doctor newsletter, The Friendly Voice, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314-291-1012.