Join Lisa Gates for an in-depth discussion in this video Demonstrating the cornerstones of coaching, part of Coaching and Developing Employees (2013).
I want to give you the three cornerstones of the coaching process that will help you work smarter, not harder. We'll illustrate those corner stones in action with our coaching Eric, a team leader and his manager, Michelle. We'll do that by showing you two approaches, the directive manager and the manager as coach. Cornerstone Number 1, Be Curious. At its core coaching is an inquiry, an open-ended question asking that encourages people to reflect, source new perspectives and ideas, and take self guided action. So here's Eric and Michele.
(SOUND). Michelle: Hey, Eric. How's the number crunching going. Eric: I'm having some problems getting the numbers to line up. Something's off in the formula. Michelle: Okay. Well, keep working on it and just get it to me by the end of the day. >> Okay, that's a pretty common workplace interaction. Here's what curiosity looks like through the manager as coach lens. (SOUND). Michelle: Hey Eric. How's the number crunching going? Eric: I'm having some problems getting the numbers to line up.
Something is off in the formula. Okay. So, what kind of support do you need in order to make our 5 o'clock deadline? >> It's a pretty subtle shift and approach that empowers your employees to look to themselves for answers. This brings us to the second cornerstone, Let the Employee Lead. People do best by sourcing themselves about the choices they make. They need a lot of autonomy. Your job is to help your employees discover where their goals values and priorities dovetail with organizational goals the big picture.
Here's Eric and Michelle again. Eric: being team leader's really challenging. I feel like I'm demanding things all the time and asking for way too much. Michelle: Wow. Your just going to have to shoulder through. Goes with the territory. Eric: But people are pretty tense. And were always down to the wire with deadlines. Michelle: Well, you could grab a quick lunch with each other. See what's up. Or you might set a reminder to check in on their progress around 4 o'clock. Eric: Okay.
Michelle: Okay? >> Another pretty typical workplace conversation, right? The problem is that Michelle hasn't explored what's underneath the problem. She gives him direction, which means that he's going to remain dependent on her to solve his problems. So, let's try this again using the manager as coach approach. Eric: Being a team leader is really challenging. I feel like I'm demanding things all the time and just asking for way too much. Michelle: Hm. Can you say a little more about this? Eric: Well, people seem pretty tense. Michelle: Uh-huh.
Eric: And we're always down to the wire with deadlines. Michelle: Hm. Where do you feel the problem rests? Eric: I like being collaborative. Michelle: Uh-huh. Eric: But some people just want me to tell them what to do. Michelle: Uh-huh. Eric: And then, the others get very irritable when I give them their assignments. Michelle: Hm, sounds like you're learning to accommodate different work styles. Eric: I guess so. it's just very difficult to balance. Michelle: What if, you were transparent about your learning curve and asked for feedback? Eric: Hm, I don't know. I can see where asking for feedback makes sense.
I'm just not sure what they'd say. Michelle: Well, would you rather wonder or would you like the truth? So you can improve your game. Eric: Well, I would like to improve my game. Michelle: Mm-hm. >> Okay. The outcome in this conversation isn't that different than the first one. But Michelle got to the root of the problem and helped Eric find the next right action on his own. Much more empowering. So, the third cornerstone, Coach the Whole Person. This means the life-work, work-life merge is not only relevant, but crucial to engagement and satisfaction, especially in a 24/7, always on world.
If someone is challenged by family needs, or even a crisis, it impacts their ability to perform in the workplace. So let's go back to Eric and Michelle. Eric: With the new baby, things are tough for my wife and me. Michelle: I know it was rough when we had our first child. But don't worry. It gets easier. Eric: Okay, but what I'm saying is I'm not going to be any good unless I start getting some sleep. Michelle: Well, why don't you take a couple of days when this project is complete? >> Okay, in the conversation you just watched, the first two cornerstones went out the window along with the third. And while a few days off would be a great help, it probably doesn't address Eric's underlying concerns.
So let's rewind and incorporate all three cornerstones. Be curious, Let the employee lead, and Coach the whole person. Eric: With a new baby, these late-nights are tough on my wife and me. Michelle: Oh, yeah, I know. It's, it's a rough time, isn't it? What can we do? Eric: honestly, I mean, it's pretty ingrained in the culture here. usually I'm okay with it. Michelle: Uh-huh. Eric: I love the pace, normally. Michelle: What do you really need? Eric: a clone. (LAUGH). Yeah, but seriously, I'd love to do some load sharing, possibly some job sharing with Tom.
Michelle: Oh. Eric: That way I can leave early for the next few weeks. Michelle: Hm. >> Okay, they haven't ironed out all the details of this potential arrangement yet. But notice how Michelle's patience makes room for Eric's own best ideas to surface. Michelle doesn't deny, negate, fix, or tell Eric what to do. Most of us have a tendency to listen just long enough to offer a solution. It's a great strength, but in terms of engagement it can be counterproductive.
With just a little more patience, oftentimes silence, your employees will do the talking. And the solutions they find tend to be more authentic and durable. And that's what fosters true alignment with company objectives. I invite you to print out the three cornerstones included in the exercise guide. Post them somewhere visible while you're working on your new skills.
- Establish a coaching relationship with your employees.
- Demonstrate the cornerstones of coaching.
- List examples of "PowerTalk Practice".
- Describe how to challenge your employees for growth.
- Identify how to manage accountability and give future-focused feedback.
- Align professional goals with company objectives.
- Design stretch opportunities.