Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” – Peter Drucker
“Well, that conversation would have earned an F in business school…” Mindy sighed as she set her plate of sushi down on the table in the company café.
“What happened? You look defeated,” Jan observed, already eating.
“The coaching conversation with Gilberto. He’s hasn’t been making his sales number because he doesn’t target decision-makers in his accounts, and he ends up wasting his time. I wanted to sit down with him and help him find a better approach to his prospects, but he ended up getting really defensive and accusing me of picking on him,” Mindy said, “I meant to sit down and plan what I was going to say, but I got distracted and winged the conversation. I think I approached it all wrong.”
“Wow. That doesn’t sound like he left the conversation with a renewed sense of commitment and inspiration,” Jan replied, grinning.
“No,” Mindy sighed, massaging her forehead, “I think I may have just dumped on any last seeds of commitment and inspiration he had left.”
The learning and development of employees is not confined to the training classroom. In fact, most on-the-job training happens in-flight, when stakes are much higher.
Coaching is a crucial educational and supportive role of a manager. Employees need real-time feedback, guidance, and praise to maintain and improve their performance.
Get Better Results by Preparing for the Coaching Session
Effective coaching conversations require thoughtful preparation. Mindy knew what she wanted to correct in Gilberto’s behavior, and she jumped right into criticizing him and telling him her own solution to his problem. Instead, Mindy may have been more successful if she would have asked herself some crucial questions in preparation for the coaching conversation.
Before the Coaching Session
It is the coach’s job to consider the outcomes of the conversation before the conversation takes place. Some of the questions to be answered in preparation include:
- What is the desired outcome from the conversation?
- What should I be listening for?
- How best can you get the team member to understand?
- What examples can be utilized to help with the understanding and the application?
- What questions should I be prepared to ask?
During the Coaching Session
Be prepared to adapt to the conversation and your employee’s needs as they unfold:
- Should I talk or listen right now?
- What should I say when I do talk?
- Should I tell them what to do or ask them how they will handle it?
- What am I listening for?
After the Coaching Session
After a coaching session, it is the coach’s job to set a date and time for a follow-up meeting and to follow through on deliverables or promises. Some of the questions to be answered after a coaching session include:
- What is the date and time of the next coaching session?
- What expectations have been set for the employee?
- How will the employee be observed?
- What potential issues or obstacles could you or the employee face prior to the next meeting?
In the end, Mindy decided to try the conversation with Gilberto again. After careful preparation, she withheld her opinion at first until she had explored Gilbert’s rationale for calling on prospects the way he did. She listened, asked questions, and guided Gilberto by providing examples of sales that closed quickly because the account executive met with a true decision-maker. She offered to let Gilberto shadow an experienced salesperson on the team. And she set a follow up conversation with Gilberto in two weeks to see how he had fared. Gilberto left the conversation with a better understanding of her expectations, a plan to correct his behavior, and a feeling that Mindy and the company supported him.
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