How To Maximize Your Employees’ Success With Professional Coaching
Originally published by Forbes.com
Loren Margolis, Founder & Managing Director, Training & Leadership Success
Executive coaching has evolved into a talent development strategy that can help accelerate the leadership potential of people who hold promise for an organization. As the leader of these promising individuals, you hold a significant position in the coaching process. Your organization is making a substantial investment in time, money and human resources to develop your team member, so you will want to be involved to ensure the coaching works. I believe your involvement also increases your team member’s degree of meaningful change well after the coaching ends.
Be direct and honest with the coach.
The executive coach will discuss your opinion of your team member’s strengths and development opportunities and why you are investing in them. In my experience, this discussion typically takes place at the start of the coaching, during a 360-degree assessment and at points throughout the engagement. Be blunt with the coach, give examples of your direct report’s strengths and growth opportunities and their impact. For example, if your team member’s strength is driving execution, share specifically how they excel at giving clear direction, and follow up with performance feedback to keep their team on course. Or, if your team member is a top producer but treats their direct reports with sharp elbows, resulting in low workplace morale, share that you want them to become more self-aware and develop a collaborative communication style by asking for people’s ideas instead of commanding them. Your candor will give the coach a clear sense of how your direct report is perceived so they can create a targeted program to support them.
Build organizational alignment.
Throughout the engagement, the executive coach will likely hold three-way meetings with you and your team member that take place at the beginning, middle and end of the coaching engagement. The purpose of these meetings is for you to weigh in on your team member’s coaching plan and provide organizational context to the coaching. All executive coaching goals should be measurable and tied to business goals. As a leader, you know your organization’s culture and business strategies well. You also know your team member’s performance goals. So, your contribution in forming their coaching goals is key. If your employee’s coaching goal is to deepen their team’s engagement, measure their progress through your organization’s annual employee engagement survey. Whatever goal has been prioritized — to deepen organizational influence, to develop executive presence, to change negative behavior, etc. — should be specific, measurable and rooted in how it supports the business.
Give targeted feedback.
Create opportunities to give real-time direction by observing and providing feedback to your team member. By doing so, you reinforce what they learn in their coaching sessions. For example, if one of their goals is to deepen their executive presence, pay attention to how they lead a town hall meeting or speak with key stakeholders. Assess their level of gravitas and credibility when they are reporting on important business results. Observe how well they connect with others through social intelligence and active listening skills, and note if they remained poised when challenged with tough questions. After, provide targeted feedback on what they did to show executive presence and how they could continue to improve. A few other ways you can offer feedback include:
• Adding feedback on one of their development goals as a discussion point in your one-on-one agendas.
• Give them a project that will allow them to practice using their new skills. Schedule ongoing check-ins to provide feedback and support to help reinforce their growth.
Support your team member’s continued development after the coaching ends.
In my experience, a coach will also help you and your team member put structures into place that sustain learning. I hold a final alignment meeting to review the outcomes of the coaching. I have the team member share their progress and successes and the impact it’s had on their mindset, behavior and performance. I believe it’s key to discuss ways to sustain your team member’s growth after the coaching is over. I’ve found your company can reap the rewards of coaching on a broader scale if you work with your employee to link their learning to organizational strategy. Additionally, I’ve observed that after coaching, leaders yearn for a safe, realistic environment to practice newly acquired habits and skills. To create this type of environment, try the following:
• Coach them. Facilitate their continued growth by enabling them to self-reflect, think through roadblocks and create purposeful action. For example, if one of their priorities is to continue to deepen their organizational savvy, have them pick a current situation and coach them on how to think through the political nuances and determine which influence strategies to use. You can ask them questions such as, “What are the political undercurrents to keep in mind?” or, “What are each stakeholder’s concerns and biases, and how can you address them?”
• Pair your team member with a peer or mentor whose strength is the areas that your team member is developing. They can collaborate with them on projects, shadow them in meetings and meet with them for mentoring or peer feedback.
• Give them opportunities to integrate their continued development by working on projects that require them to use their new skills.
By playing an active role in the executive coaching of your direct reports, I believe you deepen their learning and reinforce the growth they accomplish during their coaching engagement. In my experience, they will learn better if you back their development with direction and active support, and your organization will reap the benefits as well.