We all want our teams to perform.

We want to take our under-performers and guide them to perform.

We want to take our average performers and guide them to over-achieve.

We want to tale our exceptional performers and guide them to be superstars.

As business owners we want to INSPIRE ACTION. But why do we get it wrong? Why do we fall short when coaching others to perform?
Aristotle once stated that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” What does this quote have to do with coaching teams and inspiring them to perform? Two things:

  • Effective coaching is not a single act. A single “coaching” session is not coaching. To be effective, coaching is a continuous action that we need to repeat daily. Coaching needs to be a habit.
  • Often when we are coaching someone, we are trying to coach them out of learned behavior. That learned behavior is often a habit – something they have learned by repeating it over and over. Habits take time to form, and often take time to break!

Why do we coach?

The objective of coaching is to unlock a person’s potential to get the most out of their performance. In other words, constant, effective coaching is designed to inspire action and drive real results. Don’t confuse inspiration and motivation.

Motivation is about lighting a fire beneath someone in hopes of getting their best efforts. Motivation is extrinsic and generally temporary because we most often rely on the carrot or the sick approach. We threaten them if they don’t perform and provide a temporary reward if they do perform.

Inspiration Is about building a fire within someone based on their unique drives. Inspiration is intrinsic. Inspiration is tapping into an individual’s “why” or “purpose”.

What coaching is NOT!

Before we can delve into creating the habit of coaching as an on-going action, lets make sure not to confuse coaching with something that is it not.

  • Coaching is not a disciplinary action. If managers are only doing coaching when there are performance issues, not only will this create distrust around the process, but it will undermine any benefits that other employees can get from coaching conversations. Coaching in the workplace must be deployed both as an employee growth tool and when needed as a part of the disciplinary performance improvement process.
  • Coaching is not a training session. Training is about skill building. It’s telling the employee how to improve specific skills. Coaching is about discovering what may be preventing the employee from learning a new skill or leveraging a skill they have. Coaching is asking.
  • Coaching is not counseling. Counseling is looking at their past. Coaching is looking at their future.
  • Coaching is not managing. Managing is about a process. When you manage you make sure the employee is fulfilling their job responsibilities. Coaching is about the PERSON. When you coach, you help the employee reach their highest potential.
  • Coaching is not mentoring. Mentoring is about passing on your experiences. Coaching is all about giving the employee room – Let the employee use their own expertise to grapple with problems and discover their own solutions.

Many of us use mentoring in place of real coaching. Mentoring is leveraging your experience to direct someone what to do. If you are in a mentoring relationship, this is perfectly acceptable. Mentoring is about “what” they are going to do and “how” they are going to do it.

Coaching is about inspiring someone to act – to solve their own problems. Coaching is about “why” someone is going to do something or not do something.

Coaching for results.

Every effective leader must learn the habit of coaching. We are charged with developing our people, training our people, and creating situations that inspire our teams and encourages them to motivate themselves. For your coaching to be effective, it needs to include these key characteristics:

  • Effective Coaching is Constant Action. Think about some of the best coaches in professional sports. These individuals are in constant motion with their teams. They coach them during the preseason, during practice, and through each game. They are actively coaching when the team is losing and when the team is winning. Effective coaches understand that coaching is a habit, not a single act!
  • Effective Coaching Involves Understanding the Entire Person. Humans are complex beings. We are more than just the sum of our skills and abilities. To properly coach, we must understand the entire person:
    • Head – How are they wired?
    • Heart – What is their purpose?
    • Skills – What can they do?
  • Effective Coaching Looks Beyond the Surface. Business leaders and professional coaches often address only what they can see – the behaviors of the individual. What we must understand is what is driving those specific behaviors. For example, if you see 5 people sitting in a McDonalds and assume they are there for the same reasons, you might be wrong. One may be there for free WIFI while another needs to use the restroom. Although their behavior of going into the restaurant is the same, why they show up in the first place could be different!
  • Effective Coaching is About Asking Questions, Not Giving Answers. Effective coaches spend more time asking questions and listening, then in providing direction. Coaching is about getting the player to come to their own conclusions by asking the right questions. When an individual makes their own decisions, they are more likely to perform the necessary actions to execute on those decisions. Telling someone what they should do does not have the same impact.

Knowing what questions to ask is critical to becoming an effective coach. Inspiring someone to act is about helping them define their own conclusions and next steps. If you would like a copy of my “Bakers Dozen” questions to effective coaching, please click here to get your free copy.

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