A Simple Model for Coaching

I was talking to a group of managers this week about coaching and gave them this mnemonic to help them remember the key components. An effective C.O.A.C.H. will:

Clarify expectations. Good coaching starts with setting clear expectations for your employee. They have understand what’s expected before they can begin to process the skills required to perform.

Observe behavior. Some managers act as if all they have to do is communicate what they want in order to produce the desired result. As if voicing their desire will make it so. But it’s not enough to tell your employees what you want. You have to see them in action to see how well they do it. An employee with clearly defined goals may still need training, resources, motivation, or reinforcement. An absentee leader cannot coach.

Act as a role model. Want your employees greet customers within 30 seconds? You’ll need to model this behavior. Want them to pick up the piece of trash in the parking lot instead of walking past it? Show them how its done. They may listen to what you say, but its how you act that tells them how serious you are. Think they’re not watching? You’re wrong.

Catch ’em doing it right. Positive reinforcement is a powerful, but underutilized tool. Human beings love to hear positive feedback. It’s the best way to ensure performers keep performing.

Handle low performers. Want to see your top performers disengage? Then do nothing about the coworkers who refuse to pull their weight. Failing to address under-performing only exacerbates the problem. Without corrective action, you’ll eventually see the entire team’s performance degrade.

These last two points go hand-in-hand. Reward and accountability are two sides of the same coin. Remember, you’ll receive an abundance of what you praise or tolerate.

There’s a lot more to be said about effective coaching. Look for more thoughts in future posts.

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