To serve as an effective leader requires that we also take on the role of coach, or mentor, for our employees. Simply put, we must remain fully engaged in our relationships with employees and initiate the communication that will help them to develop a clear and concise understanding of the organization’s goals, improve their contribution to the business, and allow them and the organization to grow together. It is upon us to ensure that all are continually recognizing and improving upon their weaknesses and to provide them with the necessary resources for enhancing their performance and further developing their strengths so that they can be a greater asset to the team and to the business.
This also leads us to an ongoing opportunity and an important responsibility that we encounter in management, which is the development of our teams. As this is usually among our highest priorities, we often find ourselves in situations that call for us to focus on our role as coach. Our challenge lies in coaching our team vs. simply managing or directing them. Many times, due to a variety of reasons, we find it easier to direct. My experience has shown that those of us who have the self-control and discipline to coach will achieve better results in the long term, ultimately developing a stronger, more productive team and seeing enhanced performance and greater contribution of individual members among the team. With this in mind, let’s consider the qualities of a successful coach and the advantages of recognizing why we as leaders must embrace and demonstrate these mentor qualities if we are to serve effectively in our role.
Guidelines to Successful Coaching and Effective Goal Setting
In order to be a successful coach for our employees, I have found a number of guidelines that should be followed:
- Recognize that coaching is a very formal process and an important, key leadership responsibility.
- Prepare yourself adequately to understand your employees and their unique needs.
- Develop a well-thought-out plan that details objectives and the steps that you will take during the process.
- Determine measurements and analytics that baseline and chart the improvement and enhanced effectiveness of the employees who you are coaching.
- Understand that coaching does not mean counseling the employee.
- Prepare tools that will effectively engage employees in focusing on how they can make the necessary behavioral changes required to become more successful as individuals, as a team, and as an organization.
- Exhibit strong interpersonal skills and work at building trust with employees. It is essential that they feel safe and comfortable working with you. Without trust and credibility established, there will be no platform for coaching.