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April 2019
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TD Magazine

What Great Coaching Feels Like

The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth

By Bill Eckstrom and Sarah Wirth
Greenleaf Book Group Press, 173 pp., $24.95

Do you get accolades for your team's performance? Do your employees know what good coaching feels like? No? Then this is a book for you. The Coaching Effect explains that it is up to managers to inspire the best work in others. After surveying 7,000-plus sales employees and managers, the authors conclude that poor coaching skills result in missed productivity gains.

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To become high-growth coaches, managers need to leave their comfort zones. To improve quality and quantity of coaching, they need to push, demand, and challenge team members to higher performance. Having members in a state of discomfort in an otherwise orderly environment will allow them to grow. When team members are uncomfortable (akin to being nervous before a big exam), the situation is ripe for excellence.

The authors explain that would-be coaches must first build a good relationship with their team members. It is trust that makes this work. Relationship plus order plus complexity equals performance. And this can be measured; calculate a coaching score based on responses from a detailed survey that managers and team members complete. The higher the score, the better the coaching environment.

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With baseline scores in hand, would-be coaches can set out to improve. To up the score, coaches need to hold meetings at various levels—one-on-one meetings with each team member, meetings with the whole team, individual performance feedback sessions, as well as meetings covering formal written feedback. One-on-one career development meetings also contribute to a higher coaching quotient. This book provides a link to handy templates to plan those meetings. To measure progress, the coach should again survey the team members. This is an ongoing cycle to reach and sustain top coaching scores.

This book is a great tool for anyone wanting to achieve higher-level performance from others. Everyone who is metrics-driven should cherish the idea of a manager's coaching score. It isn't an easy process to coach, and the authors admit this. When top management asks why employees are discontent, the coach needs the stamina to stay the course and argue for more time to make this work.

In our evidence-based world, The Coaching Effect is a timely contribution to measuring team leaders' soft skills. If we follow it, we are well on our way to having our teams experience what great coaching feels like.

About the Author

Peggy Swigart is department chair and professor of human resource management at Trident University International.

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