When it comes to self-assessing your coaching acumen, it’s essential for every manager to look in a mirror, instead of looking out a window and be honest about where you stand in your journey to becoming a world class coach and leader.
Here are some foundational best practices that are always worth reviewing regardless of how good a coach you are or think you are, along with five questions you can ask yourself to uncover your growth opportunities so that you can continually better your best.
- Are you asking questions that you don’t know the answer to?
If so, you’re coaching! And in many cases, while you may have the answers to their challenges, you want your directs to arrive at the solution on their own. After all, people resist what they hear but believe what they say. If they create it, they own it, rather than being told what to do.
- When coaching, are you facilitating the conversation with open ended questions or closed ended questions?
If you’re asking closed ended questions, you’re closing your people and directing them to the outcome or solution you want, not coaching them. Don’t be sneaky! Open ended, loaded questions that contain your opinion or advice also need to be avoided. (Example: “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if you call the customer and find out what you can do to keep their business?” or “Have you tried…”)
- Are you patient? Do you give people the space to think through issues and arrive at a conclusion in the way THEY process information?
Respecting each person’s individuality also means respecting their thought process, including how they make decisions. If you find that you’re losing your patience during a conversation, or believe they’re not ‘getting it fast enough,’ then chances are, you are ‘shoulding’ all over your people! (Example: “They’ve been selling for years! They should already know how to handle this!”) Do yourself and your team a favor, don’t ‘should’ on them. Remember, a ‘should’ is simply the excrement of your own assumptions, judgment and agenda!
- Are you coaching in your own image?
Does your experience actually get in the way of tapping into each person’s wisdom, talents and individuality? Do you find yourself saying things like, “I dealt with the same thing when I was in your role, so, here’s what you should do.” “When I was in your position, here’s how I handled it….” If so, you’re building robots or attempting to clone yourself. So, how’s that working for you? Life becomes much easier when you first take the time to tap into each person’s individuality; their passions, goals, challenges and values. Why? Because people are motivated by what they want, not what you want.
- Are you consistently coaching each person on your team?
If you feel compelled to jump in and solve a problem that’s gotten out of control or “need” to help your salespeople close a deal at the end of a quarter, you’ve already missed the coaching opportunity! If you were coaching each person on your team in some consistent basis and have developed a coaching cadence, you would be able to recognize the problem and the coaching opportunity in its infancy, when you and your people can do something about it.