12 Steps to Coach Your Team to Success
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As a coach, it's up to you to help your team members step out of their comfort zone and stretch beyond their capabilities. It's your job to inspire them to work harder and more effectively than they've ever done before.
1. Communicate a clear vision of what success looks like.
Paint a picture. Sell the idea of hard work to reach a common goal. Where are you headed? What will success look like when you achieve it? How will you know when you're there?
2. Set a high standard.
Your employees will live up to your expectations. Their performance will fall or rise accordingly. Set your standards high. Expect excellence.
3. Demonstrate by your own actions, what you expect of your team.
Although it's cliché, it's true. You need to walk the talk. Your actions mean more than your words.
4. Maintain an optimistic and solutions-oriented approach.
Focus on the result and express a positive attitude. If you find yourself off-course, regroup and redirect.
Your team is looking to you when unexpected challenges or setbacks arise. What is your attitude about the problem? If you're optimistic everything will work out and you and your team come up with a new solution or a new plan, everyone will be on board. If your attitude is negative and you question whether you'll be successful, you'll derail the whole team. They'll meet your lowered expectations.
Great coaches never let good work or efforts go unnoticed. When they see it, they say it. Acknowledging your team members' hard work and efforts is one of the most important - and easiest - ways to show your team that what they do matters.
5. Express confidence.
"I know you can do it," or "Good for you, you figured it out," or "You've worked hard and it shows," are statements that express your confidence in your employees' abilities or actions. They build up an employee and they clearly indicate that you've noticed what they do and that it matters to you.
6. Make it okay to fail so learning can take place.
Your employees will only risk failure if they know you're not going to berate them for it. Handle mistakes professionally and constructively. If your employee continues to make the same mistake, then it's a performance problem. But, if the mistake is due to learning or trying something new - critical to innovation and problem solving - handle it in a positive way. Ask, "Why do you think that didn't work?" or "What do you think you should do differently next time?"
7. Acknowledge effort.
You learned to walk before you tried to run. No doubt you had many missteps and falls along the way. Your employees deserve the same patience and attention when they are learning something new or when they are trying to improve performance.
8. Recognize improvement.
Performance improvement is a process. It is a journey that your employee agrees to take in order to change an unacceptable behavior. Meeting your expectations and requirements may not happen overnight. Notice the journey.
9. Never let great work go unnoticed.
Whether it's an average employee, an employee who has improved performance, or a star performer, acknowledge their great moments. When you see it, say it. Let your team members know that you have noticed and appreciate how well they've done something. Comment on their performance and work habits.
10. Recognize and reward successes.
Big projects, end-of quarter quotas, sales numbers, report deadlines, coming in under budget. These are all reasons to celebrate - sometimes in a big way like a group outing. But for every big victory, there are a lot of little successes along the way. It's your job to recognize and reward success - even the little successes. It's the acknowledgement of the day-to-day victories that will help keep your employees motivated.
Whether it's specific praise for a job well done, a personal note or e-mail of thanks, added responsibility, or a group outing, the recognition clearly shows your employees that what they do matters and that they are a valued part of the team.
As important as it is to never let great work go unnoticed, the opposite is also true. Never let poor work go unnoticed. If you do, all your coaching efforts will unravel. Good performers will wonder why they bother. Poor performers will continue to work below standard. Over time, your standards will deteriorate and your team will think that what they do doesn't matter.
11. Address the problem behavior with a 2-minute challenge.
Good performance and poor performance need to be acknowledged. But acknowledging poor performance usually isn't enough. It needs to be addressed, or challenged. By that I mean, challenge your employee to improve - with your support and encouragement.
Saying, "You were short with that last customer" will likely only get you a mumbled apology, but challenging your employee to improve means getting them to understand that you see it as a problem and that it is unacceptable. Use this 2-minute challenge:
- State what you've observed. "You were short with that last customer."
- Wait for a response. "Oh, I know. I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
- Remind them of the goal. "When a customer approaches you and needs help, I need you to stop whatever you are doing and give them your full attention. Look at them, listen, and give them the help they need."
- Ask for a solution. "What can we do to make sure this happens?"
- Agree on a solution. "So the next time a customer approaches you while you are…"
12. Follow through with employees to improve performance.
Ultimately, it's your employee's responsibility to improve; however, it's your job to make sure your employee knows what needs to change, how to change, and that you are supporting the improvement process. That means you need to follow up after the 2-minute challenge. Acknowledge good work. Acknowledge improvement.
Michele Eby works for Media Partners as a writer and training advisor. She has worked in the training and development field for more than 15 years. Media Partners' management training program "The Practical Coach" was the source for this article.