On a recent web enabled round table with 12 of my top business coaching clients we dived deep into the subject of developing your key staff members.
What became clear that a big part of our job on our respective companies' payroll was to develop our respective teams to grow as producers, team members, and leaders.
Here are my top 10 "best practices" to help you coach your team.
1. Check in on key action areas in a consistent way.
You can ask:
"_____, last time we talked on _____ you said you were going to make ___________. How did that go?"
"How are you doing on Focus Area One of your action plan - 'streamlining operations in production'?" [Get specific.]
2. Help them troubleshoot and problem solve if they get stuck.
Be careful not to just "solve it" for them. Remember, struggle strengthens!
If they say, "I'm struggling with X, how can I handle it?" help them define the problem, clarify what a solution would need to do for them, create options that would meet these success criteria, and then help them think through and pick the best solution to start with. Also, help them clarify in advance how they'll observe if their solution is or isn't working so they can adjust based on what happens?
Remember, ask questions, guide, and listen - don't jump in and rescue or solve.
3. Coaching them when they hit a "crisis."
They say, "I'm in a state of shock, I just found out that..."
- Get clear on the issue (and if it is big issue, what are the root causes so you deal with right thing.)
- Reduce the fear. Help them frame the real risks they are dealing with. "Fuzzy monsters" amplify fear.
- "What is the realistic worst case scenario here? Can you survive that?" [Of course.]
- Help them to create a game plan. What are the best first steps to start dealing with the situation to make it better than the worst case outcome they already agreed they can survive?
- Identify how you can best support them. Lend them confidence and faith.
4. Help them sharpen their ideas and think things all the way through.
At my company Maui Mastermind, we call this a "Steel Sharpens Steel" conversation. Be a trusted and wise sounding board. Challenge their thinking so they see the situation fresh and more clearly.
5. Engage them in the quarterly strategic planning process.
Every quarter you want to help your key team create their own individual or department "1-page action plan".
6. Keep their action plan handy and review it weekly.
This helps you know what to be looking for in their actions and reporting.
7. When you meet with them, capture action commitments clearly in your notes in a way that you will be sure to have front and center next time you talk.
8. Recap and numerate these action commitments at the end of each coaching conversation.
This models a clean hand off.
E.g. "Sophia, let me recap what you've committed to doing before our next call. Two items. First, that you'll ... and second, that you'll... Did I get that correctly? Great, I'll make sure I circle back with you during our next meeting."
9. Know when and how to best support and coach each individual team member you're working to develop.
This is not a rote formula. Every team member is different.
Some people need a supportive tone: E.g. "Tina, it's okay that you got pulled into handling a few crisis situations and didn't get X done. What can I do to best support you in making sure you get this done before our next session?" [Notice the tone is warm, supportive, and friendly.]
Some people need a direct and firm hand: E.g. "Joe, on our last session you committed to getting X done before this call. I get that you weren't able to get that done. Are you going to find a way to get that done in the coming week? Is it still important to get done. Great. Then I ask that you do it by next Tuesday and shoot me a quick email saying "done". Are you willing to commit to that?" [Notice the tone is firmer and more powerful.]
10. Keep them clear and focused on their "Fewer, Better".
Beware "bright shiny objects" that distract and "OPU" (other people's urgencies) that crowd out what matters most.
So there you have the 10 coaching best practices for you to use to help your team develop.
If you want to learn more about how to scale your business, I'm about to teach a new webinar that will focus on the key steps you need to take to grow your business and get your life back.
If you'd like to join me on this special webinar training, please just click here to learn the details and to register. (It's free.)