An Example Coaching Program that Supported What Companies Wanted
One example of delivering what leaders want was when I was a sales trainer with a Fortune 100 company. With recognition of the importance of coaching to boost performance, a top sales coaching vendor was contracted for 5 years to provide the sales coaching content and certify my team and I to facilitate their coaching program for the 46 leaders who managed the company’s sales force. The goal was to bring a consistent and proven coaching process to the leaders so they could better manage their staff toward achieving higher levels of profitability through new and retained business. 360 degree feedback was included so that prior to the training, employees, bosses and colleagues provided “current state” feedback on managers’. The training took place over 3 consecutive days and a follow up re-assessment was performed 30 days after training.
The vendor coaching program defined itself as building skills for “ongoing feedback, support and direction of coaches to help individuals succeed and perform well on the job and in areas that need improvement.
Coaches’ help others stay focused and apply critical competencies to achieve their objectives. Coaches provide employees with the ongoing feedback, advice and role-modeling they need to succeed.
Vendor program coaching behaviors included:
- Offer feedback on what is observed
- Offer descriptions of what is seen and felt, in a non-judgmental way
- Focus on changing behaviors
- Limit comments and advice to the most important factors affecting job performance
- Ask questions rather than make statements
- Set ground rules in advance
- Balance suggestions for improvement with what the employee did well
- Relate feedback to specific behaviors
- Consider the feedback value as it relates to the individual
Vendor program coaching skills include:
- Speak in Specifics: Describe behavior, outcomes and cite achievements
- Listen and Respond: Acknowledge, paraphrase, listen with empathy, use silence creatively
- Ask for Input: Ask for other ideas before adding own, test for reaction, use open-ended questions.
- Use reinforcement techniques: Rewards, consequences, refocusing
This approach, a training event at best, could not prove itself over time or demonstrate performance results. It was not part of a holistic program by the company toward a coaching culture. It defined and supported coaching process as primarily owned by the coaches; how they served as role-models, provided feedback, and managed performance. Training leaders as coaches was a required event, not a performance or talent enabler. Coaches, not employees, owned the strategies, accountabilities and changes. This vendor program was a structured process for having conversations with employees about their performance.
Solutions that Include Coaching Wants and Needs
What Leaders Need, Dr. LaBier describes that the “core coaching elements that grow all skills and effectiveness include increased self-awareness, honest self-knowledge about their motives, personality, capacity and values.”
The element of self-awareness is studied within emotional intelligence, EQ, and can help us understand where coaching can contribute to address the needs and close the gaps between coaching wants and needs.
Emotional intelligence is our ability to recognize and understand emotions in ourselves and others and our ability to use this awareness to manage our behavior and relationships.
(Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Bradberry and Greaves).
Research in emotional Intelligence demonstrates that
Upon measuring EQ in half a million senior executives (including 1,000 CEO’s) middle managers stand out with the highest EQ scores. Among the executives that had the highest EQ scores, they also had the best performance.
EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs.
For leaders at Director levels and above, in studies from 1,000 companies, EQ scores descend rapidly as the position level increases. CEO’s, on average, have the lowest EQ scores of all workplaces studied.
(Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Bradberry and Greaves)
The 4 components of Emotional Intelligence include:
- Self-Awareness - the process of getting to know ourselves from the inside out and outside in. The biggest challenge to developing self-awareness is objectivity.
- Self-Management – the ability to use self-awareness of emotions to stay flexible and direct behaviors positively. The biggest challenge is managing initial tendencies and applying new ways of thinking in a variety of situations that put momentary needs on hold to pursue more important, longer term goals.
- Social Awareness – the ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is going on with them. It is perceiving what other people are thinking and feeling even if we do not feel the same way. The biggest challenge is to completely let go of our own agendas, listen and observe while being a contributing yet astutely aware member of the interaction.
- Relationship Management – the ability to use awareness of emotions of ourselves and others to manage interactions successfully. Solid relationships are the result of how you treat people, understand them and the history you share. The biggest challenges for most people come during times when we or others are under stress and do not acknowledge that in our interactions.