Performance coaching; we love it here at iConnect. It’s a fantastic way to improve your employees left, right and centre.
It’s a nurturing process and one of the best methods to change workplace behaviour that we know of, and hundreds of studies agree. But, as with every function, there are barriers that need to be negotiated.
1. Time and Distance
All performance coaching requires some element of travel and obviously a time commitment of sorts. However, what do you do if time is lacking? We are all overstretched and much too busy, and with modern workplaces being more remote and dispersed, barriers to the coaching process continue to build. But, don’t you fret, there are a number of things we can do to alleviate this:
- Encourage your teams to coach each other, this reduces the amount of pressure on the manager, whilst also creating a learning community.
- Use video capture to coach remotely and flexibly. By using video you don’t have to travel, you don’t have to put time aside, and you don’t have to physically be there. You have a real-time capture of the event that requires coaching attention without having to complete an in-person observation. Give it a try.
- MAKE A PLAN (warning, this may be repeated a number of times throughout this blog). Having a plan makes a world of difference, you can plan around the coaching session whilst at the same time remain committed to it. If you plan ahead then you can make sure that you give coaching the time it so rightly deserves.
2. Lack of objectivity and interpersonal skills
With every activity that encompasses some kind of interaction, there is always a chance that something will be misunderstood. Now, this does not necessarily have to be negative. You could give someone positive coaching and feedback and they might be so pessimistic that they don’t believe you. Or there’s disparity between the coach and coachee on how something occurred, or the coach may not be well versed in empathy.
There are many, many more examples of how objectivity and interpersonal skills can hinder the performance coaching process, but, how do we make coaching interactions run more smoothly for all those involved and ensure that there is very little emotional fall out.
- Feedback in relation to evidence – when you coach make sure you use real-life examples of behaviour in relation to your feedback, this backs up the feedback you give and makes it more likely to impact the coachee’s day to day behaviour. If you validate your suggestions then the will be taken on board.
- Ask the coachee to self-reflect – If you ask the coachee to think about their actions then they are more likely to be prepared to receive feedback from the coach. They will already be in the learning mindset and therefore be ready to receive coaching.
- Envision outcomes and progress.
- Respect your coachee – you have authority, don’t abuse it. Your coachee is a human being, bear that in mind, show them respect, listen, communicate, do not simply dictate. If you lord authority over them they will not respect you and, guess what, they won’t take on board what you say. You have to respect them and they will respect you.
3. Lack of long term plan
Frequently we encounter the ‘one off’ performance coaching phenomena. This is where coaching occurs with no measurement of progress post-session and, unfortunately, the impact on workplace behaviour change is extremely low. The main issue with a lack of long term plan is it reduces the coachee’s willingness to change their behaviour as there is no reason for them to follow through on what they have learnt.
- MAKE A PLAN (sorry) I will keep going on about this. There are so many factors that come into play when implementing a successful performance coaching programme. Unless you plan for them your coaching programme will be unsuccessful. Embed the learning into your organisation and make it the language of progress.
- Measure progress – track how your coaching is going, that way you can measure it’s success and increase the drive to do more coaching. Also, if it’s not working you will be more likely to track why and make the appropriate changes.
- Highlight the why – make sure employees know why they are starting a coaching programme. Make targets, motivate them, and make sure they too can see the outcomes of the coaching. A positive process means you will have pro-coaching advocates within your company and we all know how powerful word of mouth is.
If you work in a company that generally promotes a top-down approach, with employees being frequently told ‘ how it’s done’, then you’re culture may not be right for performance coaching. If leaders are unsupportive and often dictate tasks that enable short term productivity, team development efforts have a tendency to be sidelined. With this in mind, and also in continuation of point 3, coaching benefits can only be realised if leaders are ready to accept the long-term aim of coaching. If not, you will find that employees are not coachable because coaching is simply seen as a waste of time.
- Evaluate your company culture – your company culture may not be suitable for coaching. Now I’m not going to suggest that you turn everything on its head and outright u-turn your culture overnight – that would be disastrous. However, you can begin to implement (slowly) certain elements of coaching. Look at your company structure, what leadership styles do people use, is there company wide collaboration, do you have any key players that could potentially start to take on a coaching role? Make a slow and steady plan to evolve into a learning organisation.
- Make sure everyone knows the benefits – if everyone knows why you are looking to change they will be more likely to accept the change in culture. Change is hard and can be unsettling.
- Make coaching a part of your role as a learning organisation.