Many managers equate coaching with showing employees a better way to perform a task. But even if you do a great job demonstrating the “right” technique, there’s no guarantee observers will copy it successfully.
Broaden your definition of coaching to include other, more motivating tools to produce better performance. Instead of adopting a “here, let me show you” attitude, step back and ask questions to let the employee figure out how to improve.
If you want to coach an aide to develop a better system for tracking shipments, for example, ask three questions: How would you rate the current system (pros and cons)?, How do you suggest we improve the system? and What’s the best way to implement your suggestions?
By turning your employees into consultants, you dignify them. They will think, “Wow, my boss values my opinion and thinks I’m smart.”
Better yet, you place the onus on workers to think for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions. This creates a more engaged environment where people take a proactive approach to solving problems rather than looking to their manager for all the answers.
A risk of stepping back and allowing employees to experiment with process improvements is that they will make mistakes. You might possess requisite knowledge that will speed their ability to make headway.
Rather than let people get ensnared in their own mess, gently guide them to see what you see. Drop hints, share your related experience and issue warnings if they drift in the wrong direction. This way, you let others figure out for themselves what’s best.