Effective Coaching Techniques for Promoting Improvement and Growth
A lean leader must know how to drive his organization forward, and motivate everyone to always strive for continuous improvement. Unfortunately, while many leaders believe they have the skills necessary to do this, that’s often far from the case. It’s critical for any good lean leader to take some time and study some effective coaching techniques if they want to see their organization moving forward properly.
Set goals, but don’t complete them yourself
Holding an employee’s hands rarely leads to good results, especially in more complex tasks. A good skill to teach to anyone working in the organization is to help them find the solutions themselves. To achieve that, a good leader must take a “backseat” approach to their coaching.
The best way to go about this is to set increasingly more challenging and complex goals, and give the employee pointers on how to achieve them, but do nothing more. It’s important for the employee to try finding a way. The key is to expect that they will get lost a few times, as this is the only way for them to build any real experience.
Take note though, this doesn’t mean that you should be completely absent/idle in the coaching session beyond setting the initial goals. If you see that the employee is struggling, but they’ve already tried multiple approaches to the solution, pointing them in the right direction is not a bad move.
The important thing is to help everyone develop a mindset for finding their own solutions to the problems they encounter, instead of relying on their leaders for assistance every time. This will also achieve a very important long-term goal – it will prepare those employees to be better leaders in the future.
Do your employees know how to identify problems in the first place?
Another area which you might want to emphasize more in your coaching sessions is the ability to identify the actual problem at hand. This is not always as simple as it sounds, especially when working in a complex organization with multiple layers. Understanding the whole structure is not that important, and hardly anyone in a larger organization can do that. The important thing is to be able to identify the components that factor into a given problematic situation, and figure out how they interact together.
Identifying problems can often be made easier with a simple, yet effective question – “what are you trying to achieve?”
Once you’ve asked an employee to actually think about their main goal at hand, the nature of the problem will also start to crystallize in their eyes. Even if they were unable to identify exactly what’s wrong with the situation at first, this will change once they start to list the exact things they’re trying to accomplish.
Ask, don’t always teach
A good leader will always realize that their employees can teach them just as much as the other way around, and they must always be prepared to listen attentively, and learn new things from their coaching sessions.
This sometimes comes down to swallowing one’s pride when it turns out that the employee understands a particular concept better. That’s not a problem though – it’s actually a good sign, and it means that this person will need far less attention in their coaching overall.
And with that in mind, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions during the coaching sessions. In fact, this will help establish a better bond with the employee, and will show them that the leader actually cares about their situation, and isn’t just trying to get them off their back.
Coaching is a complicated task, and many leaders struggle with it on a serious level. It’s a critical part of any lean organization, however it’s something that you simply can’t omit. The good news is, it’s a skill just like any other, and can be trained with enough practice.
Proper coaching can have some surprising results in the long run too. It often leads to improvements, not just in the employees, but in the leaders as well, making the whole organization stronger and more competent. With all that in mind, any organization that has issues with their coaching system should clearly make it a priority to resolve those as soon as possible. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and your organization actually gets all employees focused on improving the business.
To learn more about coaching for improvement, check out articles about Coaching and Improvement Kata >>>