According to the International Coach Federation, less than 10% of managers coach their employees both formally and informally on a regular basis. If the employee is lucky, the manager may have some discussions with the employee to check in as the year progresses. This is a lost opportunity to adopt an effective leadership coaching partnership with employees. As a coach, your goal is to help your employees achieve results or overcome obstacles to get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future.
Here are three strategies that will help you to transform your coaching into dynamic and meaningful conversations.
Begin Coaching with the Employee’s First Week of Employment
The development process begins on the first day of employment. You will want to meet with your new employee to explain the development process and your coaching relationship. Explain why you hired this employee to point out their strengths and the importance to your team. Explain your coaching style and how you partner with your employees to help them succeed. This is the opportunity to get to know your employee. What do they perceive are their strengths? What parts of the job do they like the most? What interests them longer term in their career?
Be sure to focus on the first 90 days. Articulate goals and expectations. Ask the employee about perceived challenges and determine together how to help the employee achieve the results you are looking for. Ask the employee what strengths they will use to help them make the transition. Schedule time to check in with the new employee on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to assess how the employee is progressing and where you may best support them.
Hold Frequent & Regular Coaching Conversations Throughout the Year
When you establish the coaching relationship at the beginning of the employee’s tenure, it sets the foundation for a strong partnership. Don’t stop there! Scheduling frequent and regular conversations are critical. These conversations build on one another, so it’s critical to have many. This leads to more insights and growth for the employee and stronger engagement to you and the team. There is not a shortage of things to coach on. Consider the following examples:
- Address challenges with process or people
- Get ready for a meeting, conversation or other important activity
- Performance gaps
- Learning something new
- Career development
Seize In-the-Moment Coaching Opportunities
Don’t box yourself into your formal coaching sessions. When you see an opportunity, take it. Research show that these are often the conversations from which employees gain the most insight. As an example, you just observed the employee have a hallway discussion with another team member. In that conversation, the other person was frustrated about the service from this employee. You observed the employee clarify the other persons perspective and discuss better options to resolve the situation. As a result, the other person was satisfied with the outcome of the conversation.
This is a great moment to take the person aside for a few minutes in private and debrief what you just observed. Begin the conversation with the specific strengths the employee demonstrated and offer congratulations on handing the situation so well. Ask the person their perception of the situation to gain their insights. Be specific with your feedback and inspire that person to repeat those skills!
Just as development is an ongoing process, so is coaching. Take the opportunity at the beginning of a team member’s employment to establish the coaching partnership. Then continue to hold regular and frequent coaching conversations throughout the year. Take every opportunity to coach in-the-moment to help your team members gain insights, focus on their development and reach their potential.