Addressing Doubts in Coaching Effectiveness
Let’s dive into a topic that can make us feel a bit troubled at times: is my coaching style making an impact with this person? You know, those moments when doubt creeps in and we question if all of this is actually working. Especially when we find ourselves having the same conversation with the same person… over and over again. We get it, and you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll explore three common myths around coaching and how to tackle them head-on so we spend less time feeling like we’re stuck in Groundhog’s Day having the same conversation, and more time unlocking potential and accelerating performance!
Myth #1: “Coaching just doesn’t work for some people.”
Maybe you feel this person is hard-headed, stubborn, and/or resistant to change. Perhaps you’ve given feedback to someone and days later got an email from HR asking to talk. Regardless of your experiences, there are certainly times that coaching conversations just don’t “click”, but Gallup data show that when employees strongly agree they received “meaningful feedback” in the past week, they are almost four times more likely than other employees to be engaged. Knowing we can help our team members with course correction, or help them with a blind spot is a big deal. It’s part of what makes good leaders great. And now for the tricky part; helping your team members understand your perspective, and letting them figure out solutions. We know we can’t offer all the ideas for them. We need them to build critical thinking skills, not coming to us as a sort of vending machine for answers.
It’s natural to feel apprehensive. Here’s the secret sauce: communicating in a language they understand.
1. Walk your employee through their natural behavioral strengths (i.e. What is their communication style like? How are they motivated to start/stop/continue this behavior we’re talking to them about?
If you have ever coached three different people on the exact same topic and one thinks you’re a brilliant leader while the other two aren’t sure if they are being promoted or fired – you know what I’m talking about. When we understand where behaviors come from, we can coach others in a way that is impactful to them – in “their world.”.
2. Modify your approach, based on the employee’s communication style.
Once we understand their behaviors, we can understand their perspective and modify our approach. Do they prefer to communicate quickly and get to the point, or do they prefer a lot of context and sequential information? Is your employee very competitive or very eager to keep the status quo? These insights about their communication style can help you alter your approach so that your feedback and coaching is heard by the employee.
3. Ask questions from their perspective. How can they leverage their technical superpowers to connect more often with their team? Which natural strength might they leverage to create more cohesion on the team?
When we’re focused on strengths and asking questions of the employee, we leave the “fix it” mentality behind and empower the employee to build their own solutions.
And hey, take credit for the fact you’re using behavioral instruments to understand their natural strengths to better coach and connect with them. They can use the same approach! Using these tools is all about connecting and understanding- and employees who feel trusted are twice as productive and report 4.3x greater overall satisfaction with work! More outcomes and winning? Yes please.
Myth #2: “Coaching doesn’t make an impact and isn’t worth the time.”
Ah, the scope objection. You’re faced with a group of employees who have been around for a while and some of them you’d like to clone while others…you wouldn’t. Here comes that doubt again. “Can I really make a significant impact with all of my team members?” You’ve got plenty of things on your plate, and time isn’t one of them. It’s hard to view coaching as a high priority, after all 42.4% of 1-on-1 meetings are rescheduled every week and, on average, almost 30% of 1-on-1 meetings get canceled.
Here’s the great news. Coaching conversations should be simple and focused on one or two outcomes. This kind of short feedback can be woven into your existing one-on-ones and doesn’t need to take extra hours.
Zoom in on specific areas of improvement and focusing (and motivating) on strengths, it’s not about boiling the ocean. Coaching is about identifying key challenges and understanding two important things- together as a whole, where is this team going to naturally excel when tackling work, and where are the natural “thin spots” that we’ll need to skill build and coach up?
Maybe you have lots of talent around getting results and building a solid process but not much in the way of innovation or agility? Where does this team excel as an act of falling out of bed (hard-wired strengths) and where are they going to need awareness, skills, or help from others (thin spots) on the team? One or two specific areas to leverage, and a couple of areas to build muscle and the team starts clicking. Everyone wants to be a part of that feeling. A part of that team. And the best leaders know how to build them.
Myth #3: “Behavioral assessments won’t solve real problems.”
When the challenges around optimizing individuals and teams feel insurmountable, it’s easy to question whether behavioral assessments and coaching tools can really fix the issue. But here’s the truth: it’s not necessarily about fixing others; it’s about improving our own awareness and adaptability as a leader. One or two specific strategies on how to motivate or connect your coaching style to others can make a huge impact.
By recognizing that our communication, direction, and approach may not resonate with everyone, we open the door to transformation. And don’t worry, we have the science to back it up. Behavioral assessments provide the evidence that it’s not about being a good or bad person; it’s about adapting and connecting with our team members on a deeper level. So, let’s embrace the power of modification and watch as our teams thrive!
You’re now ready to conquer objections, move through doubts, and embrace the transformative power of coaching. Remember, coaching isn’t about “happy-clappy” and just being good to others; it’s about being good for others, so they can realize their potential. It’s about igniting the strengths in each team member and creating an environment where they can understand, appreciate, and leverage the areas they naturally thrive, as well as discovering which areas need more focus and energy to become a higher performer. The outcome of good coaching is the self awareness of what comes easy, and what doesn’t. Now they know what, and where to focus and build skills.
Your Next Step
So, the next time you recognize “it’s time for a talk” you’ll be ready to overcome initial hesitations, be armed with specificity, common sense, and the unwavering belief that coaching can unlock greatness. Together, let’s pave the way for accelerating performance and create a future where every leader can confidently say, “I know how to get more out of this team!”