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Coaching to Improve Performance


By Stephen Northcutt

According to Wikipedia, A coach is a person who enables clients to master specific skills, knowledges and develop abilities. Like counselors and mentor, coaches offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance. Coaching is one of the keys to business execution. If an otherwise skilled employee is struggling with a particular skill or ability, coaching can help them get over the hump. Y Coach says, There are seven primary benefits a coach passes on to the client.

  • Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!
  • Promote Self Esteem
  • Learn Goal Setting
  • Encourage and Model Teamwork
  • Develop Time Management Skills
  • Learn About Dealing with Adversity
  • Have Fun with the Task at Hand

Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!

Many people get comfortable with their abilities and cease to learn, or more commonly do all of their learning down one narrow subject area, i.e. willing to learn more about selling, but don't learn organizational skills. A coach can encourage and also help them get started to build new frames of references for learning in new areas. Success can lead to a greater willingness to continue life long learning. Consider this example from a life long learning blog about reading: Consider reading a book from your area of business. There are many great books related to your industry. Test drive one of them. Next, it's time to expand to a business book that pushes the envelope a bit more than might be comfortable. Consider a book on creative thinking, or even an author whose ideas are in direct opposition to your own.

Promote Self Esteem

A coach gives the client an opportunity to associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem.

Learn Goal Setting

The majority of people seem to drift through life. A coach encourages a client to set goals and determine the steps to achieve those goals. A great coach goes beyond helping establish business or sports goals and also encourages life goals or major objectives. The goal setting guide points out that major goals can be specific or broad in scope, but they must always lead directly towards the Objective they support. They must also always have a deadline. A date you plan to accomplish the major goal by, a realistic date that not only motivates you into action but also ensures progress towards your Objective.

Here are some of our favorite tips for setting goals from mindtools:

  • State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively - 'Execute this technique well' is a much better goal than 'Don't make this stupid mistake'
  • Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down: this crystallizes them and gives them more force.

Encourage and Model Teamwork

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." -Andrew Carnegie

A coach knows the importance of teamwork and models the behavior of teamwork and takes advantage of opportunities to get people to work together. A big part of this is getting people to work on plans together. One of the most important job satisfiers for people is that their opinion is considered important. If you can get the clients to plan together, you can get them to execute the plan together. A coach is a leader and knows that teamwork is only possible if the culture supports it; sometimes organizations have a competitive atmosphere and it is one employee against the other.

Teamwork starts at the top, or cannot be sustainable. Indicators of a teamwork culture include, clear expectations from management that teamwork is expected, leading by example and management being team members themselves. Teamwork has to be rewarded and mentioned multiple times per year, we have to keep the vision before the people.

Develop Time Management Skills

A good coach knows what the time wasters are and tries to focus the client on the shortcuts, the organizational skills to do the job. One industry that teaches this very well is food service. Great chefs teach their clients to do it right and know the speed will come later. This is one area where a coach may use negative coaching (Don't do that, that is the wrong way. No, listen and try to get it this time), because if the client gets comfortable with the time wasters they may never be able to increase their performance. A good coach helps the client rank activities using something like the MSC method to sort tasks into urgent and important:

  • Must Do - Urgent tasks
  • Should Do - Can be Urgent or Important
  • Could Do - Can be Important if they lead to your ability to leave a legacy

Learn About Dealing with Adversity

Stuff happens! The question is what we do when it happens. Adversity builds character. The challenges we face teach us resourcefulness, self-reliance, courage, patience, perseverance, and self-discipline; and, struggles makes us heroic, for heroes and heroines are made by scaling mountains, not molehills. A coach knows that the client can only improve if they face adversity and therefore coaches are thankful for adversity and considers them opportunities for growth. We found this on the web, it seems like a nice way to view adversity: The PPPP program. First, don't PANIC, for all it does is immobilize you. To escape the clutches of fear, PLAN. That is, ask yourself what steps can be taken to improve the situation. Next, break down those steps into smaller tasks that are easier to carry out. Set a completion date for each task. Finally, work your plan by carrying out the action steps. As you do so, you will start making PROGESS. Keep building on your progress until you reach the level of PROSPERITY you desire.

Have Fun with the Task at Hand

Stuff happens, but there are rich moments too. A coach knows how to savor the moment, as the Wide World of Sports put it, the thrill of success and the agony of defeat. If the client has been cast into their role properly, they should be having a great time. A coach reinforces this (Isn't this great?, Life is good indeed, it doesn't get better than this).

Summary

A Better Perspective's survey of human resource and personnel specialists reported the top three main benefits of coaching to the organization as:

  • Allows fuller use of individual's talents/potential 79%
  • Demonstrates commitment to individuals and their development 69%
  • Higher organizational performance/productivity 69%

Coaching helps employees trying to master a particular skill or ability get over the hump. Coaching is an important leadership skill. In our leadership course, we ask students to think about a coach that they still remember and to reflect on at least one of their coaching techniques. This would be a good exercise for you to go through right now to remember a coach that made an impact in your life. As a coach, you help your clients master specific skills, knowledges and develop abilities. To do this, you balance positive and negative reinforcement, offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance.


summary:

A coach is a person who enables clients to master specific skills and knowledge and to develop abilities. Like counselors and mentor, coaches offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance. Coaching is one of the keys to business execution. If an otherwise skilled employee is struggling with a particular skill or ability, coaching can help them get over the hump. There are seven primary benefits a coach passes on to the client: Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!; Promote Self Esteem; Learn Goal Setting; Encourage and Model Teamwork; Develop Time Management Skills; Learn About Dealing with Adversity; and, Have Fun with the Task at Hand.