Origin of the Performance Coach
According to Wikipedia, the term “coach,” as used today, originated at Oxford University in England around 1830. It was first used to describe an individual who helped students pass exams. The word coach was a reference to a coach used to transport people from point A to point B such as a stagecoach or horse drawn carriage. The teacher as “coach” helped transport students to successful completion of examinations. And so it began our current practice of coaching students and employees to achieve their specific goals.
The United Kingdom is also home to Sir John Whitmore who wrote a brilliant coaching book, Coaching for Performance in 1992. He is famous for the GROW coaching model which he initially used for coaching athletes. GROW is an acronym for:
- Goal – What is your goal?
- Reality – What is the reality of your current state?
- Options – What are your options?
- Willing – What are you willing to do?
He later adapted his model to business and it is still popular today.
What Does it Mean to Coach?
Coaching is an essential skill for managers. As a manager, you need to develop and demonstrate a wide variety of skills such as teaching, training, motivating, and assessing. And you must apply these skills within the confines and constraints of the employer/employee relationship – no small feat. A good place to start is with yourself. Here is some wisdom from Amy Jen Su and her 2017 HBR article, How New Managers Can Send the Right Leadership Signals. I think it is great advice for all managers.
Know who you are and what you value.
Set an aspirational goal to serve as a guiding compass by answering the question: What kind of manager do you want to be?
Increase your emotional intelligence and situational awareness.
Be clear and direct, always with respect.
- Know what you think.
- Ask, listen, and acknowledge.
- Share the WHY behind your vision, priorities, expectations, feedback, or requests.
Bring a stable and grounded presence in the face of change, stress, or difficult news.
Coaching for Accountability
Finally, effective coaching must create accountability.Ben Wigert, and Jim Harter, Gallup – Re-Engineering Performance Management_2018
According to the Gallup study cited above, employees who receive daily feedback are three times more likely to be engaged. Therefore, the authors recommend that coaching should be frequent, focused, and future-oriented.
If you set quality standards for your employees’ high impact work products the days are full of opportunities for coaching moments.
Coaching employees to produce high quality work products makes an immediate impact and provides a method for developing a high performance team. During monthly one-on-one coaching sessions you can review progress and identify additional developmental or motivational needs.
Additionally, weekly team meetings provide focus and direction. Be sure the agenda includes:
- Reviewing your business strategy
- Reminding team members of their value to the organization
- Repeating your team goals
Implementing monthly coaching sessions and weekly team strategy meetings strengthens your leadership position and gives employees what they want and need most: strategic direction and performance confirmation.