According to research, 97% of people have self-limiting beliefs that derail their careers and performance potential. Great coaches help employees overcome these to achieve incredible results. Poor managers make these lethal coaching mistakes that reinforce the self-limits. This often leads to despair for the employees and defeat for the managers.
The 12 Lethal Coaching Mistakes
- Dishonesty: If you lack integrity and ethics, you lose trust. Then you lose your team.
- Yell, scream, and swear: Have you ever witnessed this before? Ever notice what the employees seem to be thinking? What they do later? Now the performance isn’t the issue–the manager is, for being a jerk. Payback will come to the manager one way or another. Not all managers believe this because their ego gets in the way. As one executive told me, “It’s my company, I will do what I want!”
- Attack, attack, attack: Nobody deserves constant abuse or criticism. This, like the above, is inappropriate and shuts down employees. If you have been on the end of this you know what I mean. In addition, harassment, discrimination, bullying, sexual abuse or racial prejudice are illegal. As we are seeing in the media lately when this is exposed the penalties can be harsh. There is no excuse.
- Not knowing the person: Trust is paramount. Great coaches take the time to build rapport and understand each employee. What are the employee’s strengths? Weaknesses? Career goals? Beliefs? Background? Motivations? Without this, breakthrough is almost impossible. Remember this quote by Bill Gates: “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.” Too many managers just look at the business numbers and act as judge and jury. Then they say, “Next!”
- Talk too much, listen too little: Coaching works as a dialogue and problem-solving effort. Listening and questioning are the bedrock skills of great coaches. It’s a communication process. Without listening, a manager communicates that he or she doesn’t care. Anyone conveys this, who make one-on-one meetings a monologue.
- Come unprepared: What message does this send to employees? They aren’t important? Besides, it erodes standards for higher performance for the entire team. The manager loses credibility.
- Show up late for a session or keep rescheduling it or never coach: Like being unprepared, this tells the employee that your time is more important than theirs. After a while, it erodes respect. Never forget that a manager’s success comes from their employees’ success. This is one of the top excuses managers have for not coaching, “I don’t have the time.” Whoever says this doesn’t have time to be a manager, let alone a leader.
- Focus Only goals: Yes, do focus on goals and progress. But make development and learning the first priority. If an employee doesn’t learn to do a task on his or her own, then improvement or better results aren’t sustainable.
- Offer no help or guidance: With questioning and listening to someone, you teach an employee to be self-directed and architects of their own successful destiny. By strategically offering your input you can lead them forward faster.
- Don’t follow-up: Coaching is a process, not an event. Great coaches guide informally at every opportunity. See this post: 5 Crucial Coaching Times for Managers. Great coaches also coach through one-on-one opportunities. See this: 8 Steps to High Performance Coaching. Some say this is micromanagement but it’s actually leadership engagement.
- Deny any responsibility: I have found that poor managers have abundant excuses: it’s the team’s fault or other departments or the economy or cutthroat competition. Excellent coaches are humble. They praise the team for good results and accept responsibility when things go wrong. Note: This doesn’t mean you don’t deal with poor performances. You do aggressively and positively. That’s part of what good coaching is all about.
- Wanting to be liked versus being respected: Great coaches aren’t always the most popular. They set the highest standards, work the team the hardest, and hold people accountable to their commitments. Why? Because they are always simultaneously focusing on current performance and the greater potential. However, they do it genuinely, fairly, and consistently. Thus, they are respected. If employees want to be the best they can be, a great coach will help them get there. Someone who just wants to be liked will derail them.
Eliminating Coaching Mistakes by Taking Positive Action
The key to greatness in coaching is to sincerely desire to help others succeed. You have to work hard to eliminate the above coaching mistakes, too. Make use of the resources suggested in point #10 as well. And, get coaching and and more training for yourself. Then, continuing to learn how to unleash the potential of others by guiding them to learn how to learn how to win in their own careers. Author Tim Gallwey says it nicely: “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
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