I once heard a CEO describe the difference between telling their team what to do and coaching. He said, you coach a team. If you start telling your people what to do, you don’t have a team, “you have a paid audience.”

It’s so flipping true. Have you ever worked for someone or had to learn from someone who teaches or manages by just spurting out information, robotically, not connecting you to the theories or practices at all? It makes you feel disconnected doesn’t it? It’s just like, words, words, words, often in one ear and out the other. Sure, you understand the implications of what might happen should you not understand that certain thing, but you’re hardly motivated to do much about it, except try and remember what they said.

Good leadership is like good parenting. You are going to get way more out of your team if you guide them to working more productively, teach them how to motivate themselves, rather than repeatedly telling them what they have to do. And, just quietly, you will save yourself a hell of a lot of energy in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some key pointers in coaching. If you can successfully drive your team using these three things, not only will you have a more engaged, better performing team, who are able to work toward their goals autonomously. But you will also save yourself from possible burnout trying to stay on top of everybody.

1. Don’t answer questions, ask them.

Sure, you know the answers to all the questions, you are the leader, it’s your job to know all the things. But when your team are firing questions at you left, right and centre about what they should do about a certain thing, you can answer those questions––and keep answering them every day until they don’t have any more questions, which will be never. Or, you can throw the question back at them and teach them how to critically evaluate and learn the answers for themselves.

“What do you think?” “How would you approach that?” “Who do you think would best fix that?” “Did you try …?”

These are some of the valuable questions you should be asking your team in order to coach them into solving their own problems. Sure, you may have to guide them through so they aren’t completing tasks wrong, but often they too will know the answers, they just need to figure it out themselves in order for the lesson to stick. By answering their own questions, you are also instilling confidence in them, which is priceless.

2. Allow them to establish their own motivation.

When it comes to goal setting, coaching is hugely beneficial. It is not your role to set goals for your team members and ask them to reach them. Of course they’ll find it harder to connect to a goal and reach targets that aren’t their own. Help your team members establish their own goals by coaching them. Again, ask them the right questions.

“What is it you want to achieve?”

By setting their own realistic goals, they’ll feel more motivated and accountable. You can coach them through the goal setting by assuring the goal is specific and measurable, as well as achievable. But do not set the goal for them, allow them to define it for themselves.

3. Empower.

This last point is kind of a summary of the two above because, without empowerment, your team will not find their own way. IN order to empower your team, you need to allow them to discover their own solutions and their own paths to their achievements. Your experience and leadership skills will help guide them, but essentially what you are trying to achieve for your team is empowerment and the ability to measure and manage their own performance and you are there to lead them into that empowerment.

Right now, it may seem easier for you to just answer the questions, set the goals and take charge, but trust me, in the long run, you are going to find much better outcomes for your team if you can implement these coaching strategies.

Eventually, your empowered team will steam the ship leaving you to just steer it in the right direction.


Written by HR Gurus Managing Partner, Jessy Warn.

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