Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders who invest time to coach their team strengthen the company’s culture, elevate performance and improve results. But in our dynamic, highly competitive economy, it can be challenging to carve out time for the deliberate, sometimes tedious, work of mentoring those we ask to follow our lead. And the process itself can become complicated and prolonged, raising concern about failing. Yet, for leaders, coaching is a crucial priority, and an essential driver of improved performance. Here are 3 suggestions to make the coaching process less complex and more efficient for leaders: 

  1. When coaching performance.

    Most coaching focuses on a performance issue, to help resolve a specific challenge. The dialogue around this issue is usually well-defined and the objective is clear – to guide an employee to a resolution rather than specifying one. Guiding may take a bit longer as the person works through alternatives with you, but ultimately, she or he learns the process for resolving a problem so that accountability is increased and dependence on you is reduced as future challenges arise.
  2. When coaching for development.

    The more complex coaching challenge is guiding an employee’s development, which turns the focus from an issue to the person dealing with it. This process is more time consuming since it focuses on helping an employee learn, improve and grow over time. Fortunately, because developmental coaching involves a planning process, the time invested in it can be better managed. Encouraging a member of your team to envision a future state, develop goals needed to reach it, and specify actions required to achieve each goal builds momentum that helps the person make required changes while enabling you to monitor progress.
  3. Ask questions, and do more listening than talking.

    When presented with a coaching opportunity, get to the point promptly. Ask the person to describe the issue, and then await a response before proceeding – ask just one question at a time.

    If multiple issues are cited, seek clarification of priority by asking which concern will generate the most quantifiable benefit in the least amount of time. The most common subject involves confusion about a project’s direction or content, followed closely by a person’s role interpretation in a relationship, and then about a pattern of behavior that is constraining progress. 

These suggestions simplify and focus the coaching process, accelerating a resolution while providing a learning experience. 

How much time do you dedicate to coaching your team?

What is your current coaching process?