There’s a right and a wrong way to help employees improve their performance. If you lecture people and threaten them if they don’t deliver, you decrease your odds of success.
Effective coaches make every word count. Rather than overexplain what they want others to do, they ask questions and use the answers to guide people to conclude for themselves how to proceed.
Apply these techniques to sharpen your:
Withhold answers. Even if you know how to fix something, don’t rush to reveal your knowledge. You don’t want people to become dependent on your swooping in to solve their problems. It’s better to let them grapple with a situation and find a solution on their own.
Budget more time. Spoon-feeding answers to employees takes less time, but they won’t learn as much that way. To maximize your coaching, allot more time (and patience) to let people stage experiments and formulate their own insights.
Use the GROW model. GROW stands for goal-reality-options-what’s next. Organize your coaching dialogues in four steps. First, review the goal (“What do you want to take away from this?”). Then assess the reality (“What’s actually going on right now?”) and list the options (“What steps could you take?”). End by looking ahead (“What’s next? What will you do by when?”).
Customize your own questions for each GROW step. By agreeing on a goal, confronting the present situation (warts and all), devising a menu of alternatives to address challenges and developing an action plan with deadlines, you lend structure to your coaching.
—Adapted from “How managers can become awesome coaches,” Dan McCarthy, .about.com.