Coaching: 3 Keys To Improve The Teams You Lead

Coaching has achieved buzzword status in business circles. As with many ideas that acquire this near-mythical standing, there’s a core of effectiveness behind their elevated reputation.

But to get there, you’ve got to cut through a lot of hype.

Feel Free To Dabble
Coaching isn’t a magic bullet that turns poor performance around on its own. But, as Henry Ford reportedly said:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Coaching can give you some tools to do something different.

Without wanting to do myself out of a job, there are plenty of tools you can apply yourself. I wouldn’t suggest you take your medical care into your own hands after reading an article on the Internet, but thankfully, the worst that can happen with coaching is that there’s no improvement.

But the best you can hope for is transformational change.

Why Bother?
Coaching works: A 2006 study by the Open University saw researchers study two groups: those managed using coaching methods and a control group, which was left to carry on as usual. Not only did the group who used coaching tools see better outcomes, they also saw more confidence in their own abilities to set goals and get the job done.

Coaching is the gift that keeps on giving: Once you start using it, others start to use it on themselves. It creates a kind of perpetual-motion machine of improvement and delivery—a business holy grail.

Build On A Framework
When you’re starting out, it helps to have a framework on which you can hang the process.

The OSCAR model, developed by coach Karen Whittleworth with training partner Andrew Gilbert, is the one I use to get me from here to there.

The OSCAR mnemonic stands for:

Outcome: when you achieve what you’re aiming for, what will it look like, feel like, and be like? This is very different from the kind of objectives that are often set in business, which focus on the action and not on what will change.

Situation: where are you starting from? What’s different from where you are now and where you want to be? What might be standing between you and your outcome?

Choices/Consequences: there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. What options are available? What are the pros and cons of each of those options?

Action: This is often where most business objectives begin and end. What exactly are you going to do, by when? Be specific.

Review: How will the outcome be measured? When will performance be evaluated? Commit up front and stick to it.

Of course, you can modify this any way you want, to suit your needs. For example, It doesn’t need to be done in order: It just gives you a starting point for your discussions.

As you gain experience, you may come up with your own framework.

How Do You Do?
Here are three keys to help you get the kind of results you want from using coaching.

Many of them run counter to what we’re used to when leading and managing other people. But it’s important to do these things, if you’re going to reap the benefits of the process.

1. Ask open questions: people need to be able to think through their options and broaden their minds in order to get to really good solutions to business problems. They can’t do that if you ask them yes/no questions. Before you say it, ask the question in your head, to see if it risks closing down the conversation. “How are you going to do that?” is much more effective than, “Are you going to do it?”

2. Don’t advise: sometimes there’s no choice but to tell someone the best way to do something, but people will mostly come up with their own solutions if you give them chance. This isn’t about sugar-coating your urge to micro-manage; it’s deeper than that. So if you feel any variation of, “If I were you…” welling up in your throat, swallow it and replace it with an open question about how they plan to achieve it instead.

3. Don’t judge: the most amazing solutions can come from what at first hearing may seem like a totally off-the-wall suggestion. Allow the ideas to flow free and they will eventually be whittled down to the ones that are useful, through discussion. No cutting any ideas off at the knees!

Read more: Coaching: 3 Keys To Improve The Teams You Lead

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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