The best leaders spend up to 20% of their time coaching their direct reports.
It's a responsibility that leaders all too often overlook as they get caught up in pressing matters, but nothing can be more important to the health and future of an organization.
Coaching others not only helps develop their skills, it frees leaders to focus on more strategic initiatives as their junior leaders develop. It also builds the bench strength of an organization to ensure a competitive advantage in years to come.
Here are some of the methods leaders can use to coach their people effectively.
1. Conduct regular one-on-one meetings.
One-on-one meetings are critical to creating positive behavioral change. They open the lines of communication and provide an informal yet structured approach to establishing expectations and providing feedback. Make sure these meetings don’t turn into project updates! They are intended primarily for development. The timeframe between meetings largely depends on the maturity of the person you are coaching. At a minimum, meet monthly, but you may initially need to provide support on a weekly or even daily basis.
2. Question, listen, advise, and follow up.
An effective coaching approach is to advise only after first questioning and listening. This not only helps build buy-in, as your people become more engaged in the process, but helps you judge how far along your people are in their development. Follow-up is the most critical piece in the coaching process, and often overlooked. Don’t skip this, as it provides the reinforcement needed for making actual behavioral change. Schedule the follow-up and you’ll get it done.
3. Create clear goals.
When coaching your team members, ask what they plan to do differently as you conclude each discussion. Essentially, help your people create tangible goals with each coaching interaction. These goals should be short-term and focused, and provide clear targets that can be achieved.
4. Be transparent.
Break the norm by ensuring team/departmental goals are published and department metrics are posted on your office window (or in a public place). Your transparency will create an open environment of communication and a focus on ownership, both of which will help improve communication within your team and across departments. It also enables you to focus on solving problems with your people instead of merely sharing information.
5. Communicate through monthly All-staff Meetings.
You can extend your coaching to the larger organization through monthly All-staff Meetings. To make these effective, engage your people by:
- Removing physical barriers typically found in conference rooms and cafeterias.
- Asking team members to submit questions prior to the meeting. This will elevate the level of participation and ownership people have in the meetings.
- Communicating what you know and don't know. Most of the pain people experience from change has more to do with the stories they tell themselves than about the change itself. Communicating what you know and don’t know can alleviate that fear.
- Inviting team members to give short presentations on various personal and professional topics. Giving center stage to people who are not in supervisory positions increases discussion and interaction not normally found in All-staff Meetings.
- Following up meetings with action items and asking for additional input to ensure you captured what you thought you heard. At the start of the next All-staff, review the status of the action items from the previous month’s meeting to demonstrate your commitment to your people.
The bottom line is that when leaders take the time to put their people first, they ignite the potential of each individual and of the organization as a whole.
You too can do this one coaching moment at a time.