“In the case of coaching, we have an abundance of great intentions but too few great results.”
- Dr. Todd Dewett

Sometimes I feel like we’re lost in an ocean of coaches at work. It’s a movement that needed to happen, but like all movements or paradigms, there are unintended consequences. In the case of coaching, we have an abundance of great intentions but too few great results.

I like the fact that we now have lots of credentialed coaches. However, I also think we sometimes over complicate the process and need to refocus on the basics. Further still, let’s be honest, some coaches need to retire. For the rest of you, let’s think about a few fundamentals that can really help you help others.

If I had just a few minutes to coach the coaches, I would share these three reminders.

Questions > Talking

People who want to help often rush to share advice. It’s a fairly natural reaction, but not always the best option. To help someone requires you to understand their pain. You can’t do that while speaking. The more you talk, the more likely untenable assumptions drive your words. In contrast, great questions allow you to probe and listen. This allow you to hone your words and focus on specific needs. Stated differently, when you use questions and listening liberally, your analysis becomes more data driven, thus more effective.

Pattern > Incident

2016 Photo of Dr. Todd Dewett on HRExaminer.com

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

When in coaching mode, coaches look for coaching moments. Understandable, but people often act too quickly. You want to help and you have knowledge to share, so, you speak up. Slow down. Task number one is to determine whether the issue you’re looking at is part of a pattern or just a one-time incident. You start to coach when you see a pattern. Sure, if an incident is big enough, jump in. Generally speaking, however, look for two to three instances of the behavior or issue before intervening. This helps you avoid becoming a micromanager, and it helps increase the odds you’re addressing an issue that in fact needs to be addressed.

Candor > Civility

Another common challenge is to balance candor and civility. Both are needed, but for coaching to be effective, one must be more apparent – and that is candor. You’re always kind, positive, and professional, but you have to shoot straight, be very clear, and never sugar coat anything in a coaching session. There is a tendency to be nice to the point that some conversations that are needed are not engaged effectively. Your employee or client needs a coach who tells it like it is. So, be civil, but even more candid. Remember, you’re there to help them improve, not to simply be a friend.

Coaching is of course a more involved process that requires serious expertise. It can’t be summed up with these three little rules. That’s true, but they do provide a great place to start. Happy coaching!

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