Great basketball coaches don’t need to be seven feet tall to understand how to switch from a four point press to man-to-man defense when the time is needed for it. Tennis coaches don’t need eight trophies on their shelf to know that a player’s grip is too far forward preventing a greater speed on the serve. Coaches have skills, different skills, that make them successful and qualified for asking that “ah-ha” question. These skills are essential for business leaders.
Sitting down with a direct report and conducting a one-to-one discussion about the executive level, short-term and long-term issues affecting the company is one of the most effective ways a leader can use his/her time. And the time of the direct report.
Well conducted coaching sessions allow leaders to:
- Model behaviors they want emulated;
- Increase clarity and alignment with respect to vision and prioritized tasks;
- Better understand the skills and perspectives of their employees;
- Teach content and skills;
- Assess the pulse of the organization;
- Build a stronger relationship by showing how much you value them on your team.
When leaders share their past experiences and help a direct report problem solve current issues by asking great questions, direct reports learn how to reflect, evaluate, predict and execute on future business issues.
The Coach’s Clipboard:
- Schedule coaching sessions with your direct reports in advance. One a month is the suggested rule of thumb.
- Both participants bring an agenda.
- Every coaching session concludes with an action plan. This plan includes mutually agreed upon action items and deadlines.
- 25% long term strategy
- 25% specific issue to explore in-depth
- 25% operational or people issues
- 25% personal
Some coaching questions to get you started:
- What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about today?
- What has become clear since we last met?
- What is the area that, if you made an improvement, would give you and others the greatest return on time, energy and dollars invested?
- What’s the most important decision you’re facing? What’s keeping you from making it?
- What roadblocks are you currently facing? How can I help you deal with them? (roadblocks are things that keep you from being more effective or things that they/I/you do that hinder your effectiveness)
- What topic are you hoping I won’t bring up?
- What area under your responsibility are you most satisfied with? Least satisfied?
- Who are your strongest employees? What are you doing to ensure that they’re happy and motivated?