Opportunities For Coaching Conversations Are All Around
Leaders who can engage in coaching conversations with their team are needed now, more now than ever before. The workplace has changed, and employees are feeling the strain and stress—physically and emotionally—of this current environment.
Here’s three ways that leaders and managers can incorporate coaching skills into common situations with direct reports and employees.
The Need for a “Coach-Approach” is Becoming More Urgent
Leaders who have the agility to support employees and teams through listening, asking questions, and creating a space where employees feel safe to express their thoughts and share their ideas are a priority now more than ever before.
Equip your leaders with the skills to recognize the scenarios that require a shift to the coach-approach, and to have those conversations that create actionable motivation for direct reports, coworkers, and employees across the organization.
Especially for new or growing leaders with high potential, coaching is one way to build strengths as well as spot potential needs for development. However, this isn’t just having an external coach—it can also include leader-coaches who bring coaching skills into their role.
Scenario 1: Coaching to Support Actions or Gauge Engagement or Stress
As a leader, we cannot assume all our team members are reacting to the work environment in the same way, nor can we assess the current state without having a conversation. Using coaching skills during these times is one of the best ways to create a space for employees to share their current state and then to take actions to get to a better place.
A place to start the conversation is suggested by Dr. Timothy Clark, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. He suggests a leader take time to monitor employees’ engagement by periodically asking each team member two quick questions.
First, on a zero-to-ten scale, rate the level of stress you currently feel. Second, using that same scale, rate your level of overall engagement. These quantitative responses then shifts the leader into the “coach-approach”—contextually listening to the response, getting more information, probing with more questions, as well as normalizing talking about the effect of stress on engagement.
Ultimately, any coaching conversation results in an action taken to move forward to a more desired state. By asking questions and listening, the coach not only allows the employee to share their concerns; the employee is also coached to a place where actions to take are identified, and follow-up from the leader is a commitment for support.
Scenario 2: Coaching as a Career Goals Conversation
Another use of coaching is to discuss career opportunities with a current or emerging leader. Whether initiated by that emerging leader or by that leader’s supervisor, having a conversation about that future is an opportunity for emerging leaders to think out loud, test ideas they have, and gain the confidence needed to take the next steps.
These quickly-changing times are appropriate for emerging leaders to think about their ideal next role within the company, how they want to take on new responsibilities in a current role to grow skills, or how their role may be changing to adapt to business needs. The leader-coach can help the emerging leader see the possibilities available for the future, as well as the action needed to head in that direction.
Scenario 3: Coaching Through a Performance Opportunity
Another scenario that is served well by a coaching conversation is where there is an identified opportunity in performance. This is not necessarily a sub-standard performance, but rather a performer who is not living up to their potential. If a leader has identified an employee that is doing fine but could be doing so much more, this is a perfect opportunity for that leader to have a coaching conversation with the “higher-potential.”
In continued research, a preferred method of measuring coaching benefits and effectiveness has been 360-degree feedback before and after coaching. Using an assessment and follow-up reassessment that provides a concrete measurement to highlight the frequency of demonstrated behaviors can identify the change in perception, with coaching serving as a catalyst for that change. For leaders specifically, one of the most validated and reliable leadership assessments is the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory®, used by millions of leaders and coaches to positively shift a performance opportunity.
Paired with knowledge of effective coaching skills, leaders can act as coaches during a performance conversation. These coaching skills, like discovery questioning, contextual listening, messaging, and acknowledging, allow managers to uncover why a leader may not be performing up to their potential.
Why We All Should Coach
Coaching is the opposite of being a mind-reader: it’s about giving others the opportunity to solve their own problems by asking sharply focused questions to uncover the answers that the leader undoubtedly has within them. Using these coaching skills in the current ambiguous environment can stimulate conversations that lead to productive and calming outcomes for leaders and their team members alike.
FlashPoint uses a variety of assessments in our coaching engagements to help leaders increase self-awareness, identify potential barriers to success, and gain focused context for action planning. If you are interested in exploring how we can help your individual leaders or your organization, contact us and let us know how we can help.