Is Your Employee Coaching Effective or Are You Just Talking?

Effective Leadership Coaching

Employee coaching is a critical element of your leadership development. Good coaching is a key to effective team development, but it can be a difficult skill to master. Here’s an example of an employee coaching session that did not go well.

                  “Hi Bill. Please have a seat. I asked you to come in because I’m starting a new program                          where I will be more formally coaching my team members. I’m really looking forward to                          this opportunity to let you know what I’m thinking and to get an idea of your goals.”

                  “Thank you Dave, I think that’s a great ide…”

                  “Well Bill, the companies been in a bit of a downturn lately and in examining the numbers,                      I’ve noticed your section’s production has been slipping. I’m wondering what you’re                                  planning to do about that.”

                 “Yes, production has been down. We don’t have backlogs yet, but the hiring freeze means I                     can’t replace Mary and John. I’ve been looking at some alternatives and…”

                 “Yes, yes, I know the about the freeze, but it’s your responsibility to work with what you have.                 I know you’ll turn things around very soon. Now, let’s talk about you. Where do you see                             yourself in 2 or 3 years?”

                 “Well, I enjoy what I’m doing now but I think by then I’ll be ready for more respons…”

                 “That’s great Bill, but I think you should really concentrate on your section and bringing it out                   of the hole. Bill, I’ve enjoyed our talk. We’ll meet again in about a month. Next time though,                     I’d like to hear more about what you think. It didn’t seem like you had much to say this time.”

Ever been in a “coaching” session like this? It isn’t very helpful is it? How could this session have been more constructive?

  • Dave should clearly define the objective of the coaching session. He said he wanted to “get an idea of your goals.” It quickly became obvious he just wanted to tell Bill to do better.
  • Bill expressed a genuine concern about his section’s staffing. Dave should have anticipated that and been prepared to help Bill consider alternatives. Employee coaching that is supportive and collaborative is much more effective than simply haranguing your team members.
  • Effective employee coaching involves a healthy dose of listening. Bill started to tell Dave that he was considering some options to his personnel shortage issue but Dave didn’t hear him. Had he listened, he would have learned that Bill had uncovered a bottleneck in the production process and was already seeing progress.

Employee coaching is much more effective when you define the objective of the coaching session up front, anticipate issues your team member may raise, and actively listen. 

Are you really coaching your people or just talking at them? Do you have clear objectives for them? Are you using coaching sessions to genuinely help? Most importantly, are you listening?

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