Successful coaching is about inspiring associates to do more than they, at first, believe they can do. Finding out all you can about your associates and aligning with your associates, so they feel you are on their side, will produce powerful results. Discovering and working on associates’ belief systems by being an active listener is the best place to begin.
All leaders must really know the associates they lead. Specific tools can help you peel back the layers so that you, as the leader, will be able to align the business goals with their personal goals—prompting them to want to perform at a higher level to achieve both the business goals and personal goals set forth by you, the leader. This article outlines 4 coaching tools that will assist you in getting to know your associates.
First things first: lead from where they are and meet them there. Consider where they are in the process of achieving the performance goals set for them in the business and personal goals they have set. Tracking and measuring performance targets is vital to coaching up your associates’ performance. So, let’s begin!
Non-ATI members: Do you really know your associates and how to motivate them to perform at a high level? Start with ATI’s Successful Meeting Facilitation Packet.
We start the process of knowing our associates with a foundation of head, heart, and hands:
- Head: Assist you in finding where their mind is so you may offer supportive evidence of what you want them to do.
- Heart: Begin the rapport process by listening and offering empathy—offering and gaining respect and trust.
- Hands: Share, discuss and commit to specific actions that will assist them in reaching the SMART goals and objectives that are set for them in business and in their personal life.
Step 1: Listen
Become a practitioner of active inquiry. Expose what associates are thinking and feeling by using open-ended questions that will engage them in the subject you are discussing. Ask probing questions to see where they are in their thoughts and beliefs.
Active inquiry helps them become curious about their own thoughts and feelings—they will seek deeper answers than they may be used to sharing with you when you are asking the probing questions. You are showing a deep interest in learning about the associates when you practice active inquiry. Are they coming from a positive or negative place while at work? Are they coming from a place of confidence or fear when they work? You want to know where their head and heart are when they are performing in the work environment.
Step 2: Elevate
Bring up their spirit. Offer support that means something to each associate, not to you the leader. Be there for them in a manner in which they will find comfort and encouragement to keep moving forward to better performance and better results.
Do they like accolades, notes, rewards, or celebrations? Do they prefer recognition in front of their peers, positive speak often, or just a thank you? How do your associates like to be lifted—valued and appreciated?
Step 3: Challenge
Challenge your associates to develop more skills and drive forward to achieve better performance and results. Remember where they are coming from; alignment of business goals and personal goals is key to motivate them to strive for excellence. Be sure your challenge is shared with full intentions of making the associates better—moving them forward in their own development to reach maximum results.
Checking in with the associates ensuring they are open for the challenge is key. Also, be open to receive feedback they offer in return about the challenges. All parties must agree and commit to the challenge and the roles each party will play before moving forward with action steps. Once agreed on the challenge, discuss action steps. Forge a plan to achieve the desired results with specific expectations.
Step 4: Remove Yourself
The leader needs to allow associates to act and follow the plan—succeed or fail. The leader is there for support. Do not micromanage and do not be a “busy body” and keep an eye on the associates all the time. Allow them the workspace to achieve their action step items to get the results you both agreed upon.
Allow associates to become independent. You do not want them to need you all the time; you want them to learn, grow, problem-solve, and develop with your support. No hovering. Trust and respect are what you, the leader, are working to develop and achieve with your associates when coaching up; to do that you must let go!
Failing is a natural course of learning. Allow mistakes and redirect efforts when necessary. Then associates can build their confidence in their own ability to troubleshoot issues as they arise. The point is to assist associates in becoming part of a well-oiled, focused team that can function together and independently to achieve performance results.
How to Get Started
How do I get this work done, you may ask? Have a weekly team meeting with all staff and weekly 1-on-1 meetings with each individual associate. Commit to a schedule every week and do not miss a scheduled meeting. You, the leader, must make this a mandatory process, no excuses, every week. Document the meetings; share notes so everyone knows the content and action steps after each meeting. Keep good records for everyone involved and remember the phrase “document, document, document.” You never know when you may need to reference back to certain communications that took place between you and your team of associates.
I’ll also remind you of the Elephant Process: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
I know you can do this with your team and with each associate individually. Get ATI’s Successful Meeting Facilitation Packet to help you get started. And congrats on taking your first strides in coaching up your associates to achieve higher performance levels!