What I Learned Through Coaching Others

What I Learned Through Coaching Others

3 Simple Steps to Intentional Coaching for Success

Providing coaching and feedback has been a part of my job as a retail manager for the past decade or more.  While it might seem intimidating to receive feedback, it is also equally as challenging to learn how to give it.

I’ve had associates who have shown appreciation, those who have had a litany of excuses and some who thrive off the communication.  How do you learn how to balance when and where to provide feedback?  There are a few simple ways to set yourself and your teams up for success.

1. Identify if the need is coaching for success or coaching for performance

Coaching for success works well when you provide feedback in the moment.  This means recognizing a team member, associate or subordinate manager for positive behaviors as a positive re-inforcer immediately following the behavior.

If the coaching is performance related, where the individual is under-performing, I have found it works well to bring them in as a partner on the conversation.  This includes asking questions and having the associate help provide the answers, rather than approaching the conversation from the standpoint of criticism. 

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Ask them what is working well for them and in what areas could they use more practice. 
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Collaborate with your team and gain their buy-in on performance goals

If they cannot identify any areas for themselves, then it is my job as a leader to help them understand and define this for them.

In this style of coaching, I work with the associate to help them define areas of opportunity and then offer coaching to develop their skills.  I also take this moment to set expectations.  We practice role-playing and I work with them to build their confidence. 

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It helps to also offer positive feedback where you can to help bolster their self-esteem and motivation.
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In an instance where an associate is blatantly ignoring process or procedure, then I find it helps to pull them aside and ask discovery questions to get to the root of the issue.  If they are not dedicated or committed to their role, experience has taught me it’s usually related to underlying issues.  Sometimes they have brought stress from home or a relationship or an outside source. 

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For one of my associates recently, coaching was centered around a negative attitude that was manifesting itself by her barking orders at everyone.  I could see other associates weren’t responding well to her approach.  I took the time to pull her aside.  “You seem kind of stressed today, is there anything I can help with?”  Through taking the time to connect with her and genuinely care about her as a person, I uncovered she had a financial burden that was weighing on her and it was a major distraction. 

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Learning of this information, I have the option to help bring awareness to how this attitude was becoming noticeable.
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I opted to change her tasks for the day, coach her to a more positive presentation and encourage her to remain resilient.  I find this all-around approach works well because you are speaking to the wholeness of the individual…helping to mend the wounds of negativity, helping to bolster pride in their work and in themselves and reaching out in understanding at other burdens they are struggling to bear.

For more information on coaching, check out this handy guide on coaching with the GROW model:

2. Be consistent

Consistency is the key for any great mentor/mentee relationship.  Top performing associates usually see success because they regularly execute their tasks to the best of their ability on a consistent basis.  They are the associates who never let a customer pass them by without a hello or an offer to assist.  They regularly compliment the customer’s purchase, make great recommendations and demonstrate product knowledge. 

Coaching is meant to inspire achievement, articulate goals, empower boldness, create confidence, bolster awareness, and facilitate growth.  It is a partnership with your associate to demonstrate an investment in their future and the future of your business, together. 

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It is key for a leader to demonstrate the same passion and dedication.  Otherwise, how could an individual trust a coaching message coming from someone whose leadership is inconsistent, at best? 

For my team, we use a tracking method for certain performance indicators that we are looking to achieve.  We keep this in place daily and celebrate each win.  Each associate gets a chance to contribute.

Review goals frequently and be consistent

Providing positive reinforcement through recognition has bolstered success for my team in these key metrics.  Having solidified expectations in place also helps each individual have a measurable aspiration.

You might also want to consider consistency across your management team.  If I put a message into place, I expect my assistant managers and leaders to also have the same conversations with the team. 

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This means I need to examine my communication methods, establish a clear vision, assess for understanding, model the behavior and gather feedback. 
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If I stay consistent with my message to my leadership team, it is more likely they will stay consistent with the messages they deliver to others.  In this way we find the whole team functions towards a singular outcome, because the message and instructions are consistent.

This takes time to build with your management team and it does not always run perfectly.  Take time to intentionally observe the messages your leaders are bringing to the team and look for ways to reinforce the vision.  Is the message clear?  Is it too simple?  Too complicated?  Does it clearly define the purpose or end goals?

Don’t assume the message is consistent simply because you asked for or expected it to be so.  Invest time and energy into your leaders and help them refine their own communication styles.  You will serve yourself, them and the entire team in the process.

3. Coaching shouldn’t be a surprise

Taking the time to establish relationships with your team will enable you to deliver a clearer message when the time comes.  You will know how this individual operates, what is important to them, how they best receive information and even gauge their response.

I find that making genuine connections with my team as we go about our day fosters trust and creates opportunities for connection.  This connection leads to more open communication.  My goal is to make my team feel comfortable and powerful enough to pose questions, be curious, identify struggles, ask for help, and even compliment each other. 

By creating a culture of value for each individual, they know I am open to feedback, no matter the subject or situation.  As a leader, I value this association because it provides me the information I need to be able to support them correctly and lead them to success.  I need to know what is working, what is not working, what they are excited about and what parts of their day they find more challenging.

From this information, I can create compelling and valuable coaching messages for the whole team, no matter their tenure, position or ability.  This enables our group to function as a productive unit, whole, committed and with a singular destination for our journey.

Check out some additional coaching methods here on COACHING TOP PERFORMERS:

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Remember that coaching is a service
to this individual, not a demand. 
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Coaching is meant to inspire achievement, articulate goals, empower boldness, create confidence, bolster awareness, and facilitate growth. It is a partnership with your associate to demonstrate an investment in their future and the future of your business, together.

Well respected leaders are on the front-lines for their teams, gathering in and processing new information.  These leaders communicate to their teams in ways that are productive, interesting and cohesive.  Leaders who are engaged with their teams foster creativity and inspire productivity.  For a team to be high-performing, they have to have a leader with the same commitments. 

I am always extremely excited for the strides my team is making.  I have learned and benefited from each individual along the way.  Every single team member has an important place among the squad and I am privileged to be able to serve them, in return.

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