Coaching Successfully: The Power of One on Ones
Successful leaders engage their employees. Many managers today don’t talk to their customers or employees enough. The late Sam Walton of Wal-Mart was asked why he spent one day a week in his office and the rest of the time in stores with employees or customers. He replied that he knew that was too much time in the office, but he wasn’t too old to learn. If you aren’t meeting with employees regularly, in groups or one-on-one, you are missing a key opportunity to influence them to increase their productivity and improve their results.
The biggest objection managers give about coaching is it takes too much time. A business has three key resources: capital, material and human. People are the most important resource because they creatively put the other resources to work. The question is why wouldn’t a manager want to invest time in people?
One business we worked with highlighted this dilemma. After talking to employees and spending time in their work areas, they asked us to get their manager to “listen to us and see what we are trying to do.” They said he spent all day sending out inflammatory emails and creating reports in minutia. They wanted him to open his office door, get out from behind his desk work with and help them.
One-on-one coaching meetings benefit the managers and employees alike for a variety of reasons.
- Promotes effective communication and feedback.
- Provides opportunity for training.
- Creates a working partnership.
- Creates an atmosphere for trust and continuous improvement.
- Focuses on development for the future.
- Supports effective performance management and productivity.
How do you conduct a one on-one-coaching meeting? They are usually done weekly to monthly and last 30-60 minutes. A one-on-one begins with a warm friendly greeting, and then is specifically about goals/expectations, plans, problems, and solutions. You ask the employee to analyze their results first. Then, you give employees praise about their positive results and establish performance issues clearly and directly.
You will need to give feedback, which is the breakfast of champions. Why? Positive feedback reinforces the right behaviors and negative feedback will help the employee make corrective actions for improved behavior. Here are examples:
Positive feedback: I want to compliment you Sue for your presentation today. You were well prepared and answered questions knowledgeably. Your PowerPoint was clear, readable and entertaining. You covered the three key areas of our plan that we needed to discuss. Thank you for your professionalism.
Negative feedback: Bob , what was your assessment of your customer call? Here are three things I thought you did well…..In two areas I thought you could have been more effective. You interrupted the customer twice. You seemed to get agitated and started talking louder as he explained his problem. Do you remember these points of your conversation? How might you have handled these better?….Let me also suggest….
Your goal in coaching is to develop the capability of the employee to perform at a high level independently. Just like an athlete gets better with consistent coaching over many practices, coaching through one on ones is a technique you must do over time. The power for improvement comes from effective repetition and reinforcement. This iterative process allows for and will help sustain performance gains.