[LTR] When you think of coaching - what image comes to mind? Is it the sports coach who is giving you direction from the sidelines? Is it a person who spend one-on-one time with to improve - either personally or professionally? Maybe it's the career coach who helped you find a job? Or the business coach who helped you increase your business?

All of these are great examples of coaches. An educated guess would say that you have probably experiences several coaches during your life so far. Knowing this - would you consider yourself a coach?

As a business owner, manager, director, supervisor - you need to be a coach. I would go so far to say that it is a basic requirement if you have people working for you. This statement can make some people cringe because they have images of scheduled one-on-one time with each employee to have a discussion of the week or month. While something this formal can work, the suggestion here is to be more informal.

Let's give coaching a broader definition: all aspects of one-on-one communication with your employee, subordinate, peer, associate or whatever term you use. Therefore this would include training, development, performance expectations, on-the-spot and long-term. Before your head starts spinning out of control let me explain.

Think of coaching as a step beyond communication. Most communication can be one way - me giving directions to you. If you open it up to be more two-way communication, incorporating the above is a lot easier.

Imagine if you took time to have employees come up with their own solutions instead of giving them the answers? Imagine an employee coming up to you and telling you about how they want to learn more? Imagine not having to do formal performance reviews because everyone is already aware of what's working and what's not? Imagine a conversation about long-term goals without a requirement to have one?

Doesn't that sound great! That is what being a coach to your employees is all about. You passing along your knowledge, expectations, and teaching in a manner that appears natural and easy.

This usually leads to the next question - HOW?

Start with on-the-spot coaching. This is using everyday questions to coach. The next time one of your employees comes to you and asks a question - don't answer. Instead as them what they think? What do they want to do? How would they resolve it? Ask them to explain their thought process and make corrections as needed.

One word of warning - the first time you do this, you will be catching people of guard. They will not know what to think and may need a few minutes to gather their thoughts. Be patient. They will get used to it. You will also need to make sure you don't slip back into "I'll just tell you what to do" mode, this will be a step backwards.

From there you can more onto long-term, training, development etc. All these conversations require tact and diplomacy. It's ok to tell people you want to be more of a coach and ask them how you can do that.

Need guidance on how to be more of a coach? Contact us - we are more than happy to help you.