Be a Coach - Not just a Manager
I recently facilitated a session on Effective Coaching & Performance Feedback for a few local nonprofits at Taproot Foundation’s office in New York City. The primary purpose of the session focused on the best way for managers to have constructive conversations with their employees. Coaching is about providing ongoing feedback to individuals for the purpose of improving their performance. Coaches encourage employees to find their own solutions, help to reframe challenges into learning experiences, and model favorable skills and behaviors for the employee to emulate.
For my fellow athletes, you've had many experiences with coaches. The coaches in your lifetime took the time to make you better at your sport by providing you with guidance and opportunities to enhance your skills. They helped you to be more competitive, to be better than you were the day before, even if their feedback was hard to swallow. Now I want you to think about your manager. Do you ever wonder if you would perform your job better if your coach was also your manager? I would say so.
During the session, we discussed the importance of Managers playing the role of “coach”, and that being a Coach is a part of a Manager’s job. There is always time for you to delegate and direct to get work done, but your time spent on developing your talent will go much further. Your most important asset is your talent, and your investment of providing ongoing feedback (good or bad) will ensure they are more productive, engaged, dedicated, and aligned to the mission of your nonprofit. Without feedback, mistakes will go uncorrected and good performance will not be reinforced.
Here are my recommendations for Managers to be an Effective Coach:
- Provide timely feedback. You don’t want to give them the opportunity to repeat the behavior.
- Inform the employee that you want to meet with them. Feedback should never be given by surprise.
- Prepare for the feedback meeting. Do they have a history of this behavior? Do you have a good or challenging relationship with them? What are some of the points that you want to make (it’s ok to script it out)?
- Address only one major topic at a time. What behavior did you observe that you want to redirect?
- To begin the feedback meeting, ask the employee to assess their performance regarding the particular behavior you observed (i.e. maybe they were giving a presentation). Then, provide your initial thoughts to the employee’s opening assessment, and then tell the employee what you observed. Next, you want to ask the employee what they could have done differently. Provide your suggestions for improvement and explain the impacts of making those improvements. Lastly, you want to work with the employee to create an Action Plan & Training Plan for development purposes.
- After the meeting, hold yourself accountable to evaluating your employee’s progress against the Action Plan, continue to reinforce positive behavior, and redirect unfavorable activities or behaviors.
Share your tips for becoming a great Coach! What techniques have you used during your feedback meetings to ensure you are successful in redirecting poor behaviors? In what ways do you provide positive reinforcement for employee success and achievement?