Dave’s Fables: Coaching From The Weeds

weedsWhen you’re swamped with your own work, how can you make time to coach your employees – and do it well?

Truth be told, if you don’t help your staff hone their skills they’ll keep coming to you for answers instead of finding their own solutions.

If you are a manager of people I bet I can describe your teams dynamics.

You have a super star, or two (thank goodness); one team member who has a high level of confidence, feels they are qualified for everything and are eager to advance; a few under-performers; and your largest group are team members who are “invisible”. These hidden, silent souls more than likely feel underappreciated and are at risk. Sad as this may seem, you are not alone and there is a solution for steady turn around.

To succeed you will have to add a few non-negotiable leadership skills to your daily routine. There are many to choose from – As you grow as a leader of people, remember to move yourself forward as well.

The best place to start is with what I like to call “Immediate Impactors” – Skills that are easily inserted into your day that don’t take much time. These are not “new” projects, they are simple modifications to the time you already have allocated:

  1. Creating realistic but inspiring plans for growth: Start by discovering what your team members want to be when they grow-up.  Make it understood that you want to help them succeed both personally and professionally.
  2. Prompting with questions before you dispense wisdom: Asking questions to confirm understanding makes it easier for your team to make decisions or to feel empowered. Early in my career a wise man once told me “You make the decision! Don’t worry I’ll back you up – I’ll make you a promise…I won’t let you drill a hole below the waterline!” Those were career changing words!
  3. Feedback for both for positive and constructive behaviors: If you hate to do performance evaluations it’s a very good indicator that your feedback/management style resembles that of going to the principal’s office. Learn to daily and consistently discuss situations you saw (personally witnessed), both good and bad, with your team members. Remember to be specific on exactly what happened and the actions they took…and the secret is to ask them to tell you what was the result of their actions! Ain’t leadership cool!

The final step to get you out of the coaching weeds is setting individual action plans.  You’ll need to agree on goals for growth to motivate your team members to achieve them, support their efforts and measure their progress.

Happy Coaching!

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