We instinctively understand that coaching helps employees perform better and companies achieve superior business results. A multitude of studies confirms a strong coaching culture positively impacts all aspects of an organization. Companies that see positive business benefits from coaching use best practices to achieve those results. Such practices include:
Best Practice #1: Define Your Coaching Objectives
Leaders need a vision of what their team members need to achieve. That vision helps leaders structure conversations. Defining strong coaching objectives is the first step to achieving positive results.
Leaders and coaches often feel that they are solely responsible not only for defining those objectives but also figuring out how an employee will achieve them. But if leaders attempt this on their own, how can they ensure the employee is interested and fully committed? For employees to be committed to the next steps, they need to be involved.
Consider this analogy: A team is going on a road trip. After a few conversations to better understand what every team member expects, everyone agrees about the destination and lays out the map to get there. The team members are co-pilots working collaboratively to reach a destination. Everyone is clear about what they are trying to achieve and the route they’ll follow to get there. They’ll monitor certain markers and measures, such as performance objectives or skills assessments, to keep everyone accountable and on track, ensuring there are no misunderstandings or missed exits.
The starting point for forming clear coaching objectives is the SMART acronym. SMART coaching objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and timely. Unclear objectives can lead to poor performance results.
Best Practice #2: Give Feedback Frequently
What is the difference between coaching and feedback? Coaching is about meeting a person’s needs by energizing and enabling them to achieve a goal. Feedback is like a GPS. It tells the person how they are doing and if they need to course correct to achieve their goal.
Positive feedback reinforces positive behavior or developmental feedback to help coachees readjust to reach their goal. Employees often say they do not get enough feedback. Most of the time, they mean that they don’t get enough positive feedback. If you want your employee coaching to deliver results, then frequent, specific, timely, and balanced feedback is critical. DDI’s STAR and STAR/AR approach for providing better feedback provides a starting point to this idea.
Best Practice #3: Listen to Employees’ Ideas
If you want employees to be more receptive to your coaching, listen to their ideas and feedback. Not only does listening show that you are open to suggestions, but it can also lead to creative ideas that benefit both the team and the business. Listening without judgment creates a psychologically safe space where employees feel comfortable sharing.
As a coach, you can:
- Listen for emotions and empathize so employees feel heard and understood.
- Involve coachees in developing their own road map to learn and grow.
- Ask coachees to give feedback on how the coaching is going.
- Have team members generate ideas and solutions to resolve issues.
Coaching employees provides numerous benefits to employees and to businesses. Follow these best practices shared above to help your employees be their best selves and your company progress to its next level. More employee coaching tips can be found on DDI’s blog.