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6 Steps to Effective Coaching

6 Steps to Effective Coaching
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to think about your role as a coach and how the coach role fits into your leadership role and responsibilities. I wanna share with you some interesting data from one of the classic studies done by the Gallup organization. I’ll share with you some questions, or some statements from that poll. And I want you to estimate what you think the response was from the participants in this poll. The poll was from people from all different industries all different organizations, employees of a range of different companies from around the globe.
The first is, what do you thing the percentage of employees is, who will state they have a clear understanding of what they think the organization is trying to achieve? And why they’re trying to achieve it beyond the next quarter? So, if you think about organizations being quarterly driven and quarterly focused. What do you think the percent of employees is that have a clear understanding of what the organization is trying to achieve long term? And why they’re trying to achieve it, beyond simply the next quarter? What do you guess is the percent? Next is the percent of employees who said their teams had clear and measurable goals.
What percent of employees do you think said their teams had clear and measurable goals? Write down your best estimate.
Thirdly, the percent of employees who said they had a clear, what they call line of sight between their task, and their team’s and organization’s goals? So, the degree to which they have a line of sight between the relevance of what they’re working on and how what they’re working on is relevant to and helps the team and/or the organization achieve its goals. What percent of employees said they had that clear line of sight? Fourth, what percent of employees do you estimate said they are enthusiastic about their team and the organization’s goals, enthusiastic about their team and organization’s goals. And last, the percent of employees who said they felt their organizations held people accountable for results.
Take a guess at the percent of employees for each of these five.
Now let me give you the answers. Number one, 37% of employees said they had a clear understanding of what the organization was trying to achieve and why long term. 9%, only 9%, of employees said their teams had clear and measurable goals. Only 20% of employees said they had a clear line of sight between their tasks and the goals of the team or the organization.
Likewise, only 20% of employees said that they were actually enthusiastic about the team or the organization’s goals. Finally, only 10% of employees said their organizations held people accountable for their results. Now think about your organization or teams that you’ve worked in. And how you think employees in those teams or those organizations would complete these statements. And now think about your role as a leader. Our role is to make sure that they see the connection between what they’re working on and what the organization’s long-term goals. That we have clear and measurable goals. That they’re enthusiastic about those goals and that ultimately, people are held accountable. That is our responsibility as a team leader.
And, these data would suggest that most of us, as leaders, are not fulfilling that role and responsibility to the level that we need.
Which reminds me of my colleague Noel Tichy, who wrote a famous book called The Leadership Engine. Great book, where he said, The ultimate test for a leader is not whether here she makes smart decisions, takes decisive action, but whether he or she teaches others to be leaders and build an organization that can sustain its success even when he or she is not around. And that is the essence of our role as a coach when we think about leadership and our teams.
And so I wanna give you a coaching process, a framework, that you can use. And our research suggests that if you do engage in this coaching process, take it seriously, and really invest the time, your employees will see a greater connection between their work and the organization’s goals. They’ll be more enthusiastic about those goals. They’ll see the clear and measurable goals that are embedded in your team. And ultimately they’ll be more committed to the organization long-term. So let me go through each of these steps, and give you a couple of pointers, a couple of tips about how to be effective in each of these steps. The first is, you have to build a relationship with the person.
Think about the coach that I had you think back and reflect on, the best coach or the most important coach in your life. You had a relationship with that person. It wasn’t somebody that was new to you who just came in and without any relationship whatsoever, guided you and coached you. You most likely had a relationship and oftentimes a very deep and meaningful relationship with that person. So before we can really be an effective coach, we really have to build a relationship with the person. It doesn’t necessarily take months or years to do. But we have to invest the time upfront, and the tips and strategies that I give you here, we have to listen.
We have to ask lots of questions. Avoid advocating or providing advice too early in the relationship. You wanna listen, inquire, and ask lots of questions. What we find in our research is, the more questions you ask, the more you listen. The more the person perceives and understands that you actually care about them as a person as well as a professional and their career.
So first, you have to build the relationship. Second, you have to assess the need. Don’t assume that everybody in your team has the same needs. Again, this goes right back to the assessment process that we talked about at the beginning of the ACS model. You do the assessment to understand differences in needs. So you have to understand, what is the role of this person in the team? What are the critical success factors for performing that role effectively? And then given this person’s strengths and weaknesses, their personality, their work style, their leaning styles, what are the key challenges that they face? And what are the key opportunities that they have?
Assessing those needs and then using that assessment of needs to establish goals and a plan.
Really good coaches go into every coaching conversation with very clear goals that are shared with the person they are coaching, as well as a structured plan, just like when we were talking about reflection. You want to go into every reflection conversation with a structured plan. The same is true for a coaching conversation. In this course we’ve talked about smart goals. Specific, measurable, attainable or agreed upon, realistic, time-bound. Your goals for the coaching conversation and the coaching process need to be smart. And you need to be able to clearly answer the question for yourself. As well as for the team member that you are coaching, what result do you want to create through this coaching process?
Make sure that you go into the coaching process with the end in mind. What result do we want to create for this coaching process? Then, work with the person who you are coaching to co-create the strategies. Ask more questions than giving statements. Ask questions and help that person develop and articulate the strategies and the specific tactics that he or she will use, going forward. What we find in our research, is the degree to which the person you are coaching owns and develops their strategies and tactics for how they’re gonna go forward, the more committed they are to actually executing and implementing those strategies.
The implication for you as a leader, you are not advocating or specifying, you must do this, or you must do that. You’re not advocating this strategy over that strategy. You’re asking questions to help the coachee, the person, arrive at the most effective strategies and tactics for that given situation.
Then, once you have the strategies, now we have to take action. So you work with the person to agree on an action plan. Make sure that there are small wins, some focus, and then a commitment to implementation. But you can’t stop there. Simply having a plan is not enough. Again, we know how hard behavior change is. And so, once you have that plan in place, once there’s a focus on small wins and the experiment along the way and once there’s a shared commitment for implementation. Now you’re engaging in the reflection process, again what we call these after-action reviews and reinforcing accountability. You have this coaching process, and you have some very specific tactics and strategies that you can use.
I encourage you to implement this both for yourself but also for people in your team who you are coaching. Whether they are your peers, whether they are reporting to you, this coaching process is shown to work across all different types of coaching relationships. And the strategies that I am sharing with you here and the specific tactics have evidence and data behind each and every one of them to show that they actually work. And it will help you facilitate learning and growth, whether it be for yourself and the people that you are coaching. But one final important point that I want to make before moving on. This coaching process is continuous, it’s cyclical and iterative.
Meaning that the relationship is not something you build and then ignore. Relationships must be consistently and continuously maintained, reinforced. The goals will change over time, the needs will change over time. Therefore so will the strategies and the actions. You have to think about this as a cyclical or circular process, and it’s continuous. Make sure that you are consistently revisiting and reinforcing each step along and throughout this coaching process.
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