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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Everyday Coaching, Part III: Ongoing Coaching

Part of my 5-part series on coaching: Intro, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

Today in Part III of this series on Coaching, we're going to cover ongoing coaching...meaning that leaders will be coaching regularly. If you read Part II of Everyday Coaching, you may remember when I said that coaching is a process.

Situational coaching opportunities come up regularly in any organization. Leaders have the opportunity to coach through an issue or let it go. As I mentioned in Part I, coaching, either situational or ongoing, is much less of an issue and much easier to do when coaching is, well...ongoing.

So let's cover what an ongoing coaching session might look like or include:


1. TALK ABOUT THEM...THE COACHING SESSION IS ABOUT THEM. The BIGGEST key for successful coaching is for the leader to have a relationship with each of his or her team members. Relationship? What do you mean by "relationship"? A personal relationship is very appropriate between any supervisor and team member. I'm not talking about being friends, but it is still a personal relationship. Reference my blog from May 28, "But I want my employees to like me" for more details, but, to be a strong leader you need to know your troops. You should know what's important to them:

~Family -- Do you know the name of your team member's spouse or do you know about the kids? Do you know about others important to your people? Do you know any details?

~What about dreams and aspirations? Do you know where your folks want to be moving forward or what they hope to get from their work or life?

As you get to know people better, and they know they can TRUST YOU (since you are obviously a trustworthy person -- don't worry, your actions will show your folks soon enough whether they can trust you or not), they are more likely to open up more and more. Then you might even find out things about their fears and apprehensions and might be in a position to help. If not, at the very least you can better understand how your people tick.

2. Other areas that could be included in a regular coaching session:
~Review task list
~Set priorities
~Discuss issues/problems that your team member might be having and/or you want to cover in more depth than you might in a situational coaching session.
~Development (as a leader, it is your responsibility to help develop all your folks)


Like I mentioned earlier, coaching should be ongoing so it should be a regular event.
1. Put it on the calendar. I strongly recommend setting aside formal time for each of your team on your calendar so you can ensure the time is protected. There's nothing worse than missing coaching sessions on a regular basis because they get preempted or worse -- forgotten.

2. Schedule at times that can be protected. I know, I know, bosses are busy...often the most busy person in an office or organization. So what can be done to help ensure coaching happens? One suggestion that I really like is to have coaching during lunch. "Lunch? I don't even regularly get lunch." Ok, ok, hear me out. Let's say you have 4 direct reports. What if you took one day per week and had lunch with a different one of your people? You don't even have to go out to eat or spend any of your expense account (both of you can pack a lunch and "bag it"). If something came up during lunch time on a particular day, you could just switch your person to another day in the week. And, if for some reason you weren't available all week or a particular team member were out, you could double up on another week and it wouldn't be too overwhelming.

3. Meet monthly, at a minimum. Depending on how many direct reports you have, how busy you are, or how closely you work with a particular team member, you may want to schedule your coaching sessions as often as weekly. I personally like bi-weekly. The great thing about having scheduled coaching sessions more often than monthly is that things come up and if you have to cancel a monthly session (not postpone), it's a long time until the next one. Having meetings scheduled more frequently allows a lot more flexibility. You don't want to meet just to meet so if you're both all good with everything when a weekly coaching session is coming up, you can cancel that meeting without worrying -- you'll catch up during the next week.


1. In private. Coaching is typically a one-on-one type of deal and is no other team member's business.
2. Does is matter where? You could consider meeting at the office or even in your own office ("Is that a problem?" "Other people might see us talking") Nothing's wrong with meeting at the office since, as a very fair and involved leader, you coach each of your teams're not picking on anybody. It may be more convenient, for sure. Meeting off-site presents its own challenges, like with distance, time, or potential cost (if you get food). Whether you meet in or out of the office, the point is to treat everyone the same and there shouldn't be any issue.
3. In any case, any place comfortable where you and your team member can be relaxed will be fine, although someplace where note-taking is easily achieved would be the best. I do recommend staying away from talking at a desk, especially your desk, since it could be considered less open and more like the conversation is a one-way "you're going to let them know how it is" conversation.

The more you coach, the easier it gets and the more comfortable you and your team can be with the improvement and support coaching can provide.

Tomorrow, Part IV, on Tips for Effective Coaching.

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