Last March, I wrote an article on “Coaching, not telling,” and this month, I’d like to share more about this topic with you. After all, we are all coaches in some fashion. Coaching well is a fine form of selling, but when you have the opportunity to help someone by coaching, do you respond by telling or by coaching him or her? Being a great coach is a skill; it’s one we can all work on and be aware of so we know how to “coach and not tell”!
I am pleased to present this article, the second in a series, on how great coaches actually coach. When I sat down to write this article, I was working on my latest Sales Culture Workshop™ of the same name, and it became obvious that coaching is another form of selling. We have to sell people on the message and the value of receiving it and adopting change. If we tell people what to do, we get resistance. But if we coach them, then we are influencing people, helping them be better and “selling” them in the process. So in that tone, this fits perfectly with my Sales Culture work and mantra “Everyone’s in sales.”
So, where to begin? I want to “set the stage” and suggest some principles of effective (sales) coaching.
7 Principals of Highly Effective Coaching
- Builds strong and successful internal relationships and forms the basis for long-term relationship management
- Builds confidence and trust, which leads to a mutually desired outcome
- Creates more opportunities to develop people and show them they matter
- Creates a more profitable team and increases client and employee retention
- Reinforces coworkers’ value and contribution to the bottom and top line
- Is direct and has a point but not necessarily an end – coaching is a long-term investment by the coach and the company
- Is a very refined form of selling, underwritten by our ability to sell ourselves and our accomplishments.
The above list is not finite, and I’m sure that we could add more to it – I invite you to do so as you respond here at the blog. Moving forward, I have identified seven steps of great coaches (I seem to be attached to the number seven for this topic), and I will share the first two in this article and the final five next month.
Every Conversation Is a Coaching Moment – So Coach Well!
We are always coaching. Always. Every conversation is a “coaching moment.” There is a difference between the act of coaching “up” someone’s performance and behavior and telling someone to do something in order to achieve a desired result. Coaching is not always a planned experience; in fact, the best coaching often happens in a serendipitous manner.
The best coaches always seek an opportunity to work with someone. I have often used the term “Walking-around coach” to describe those who do not coach from the office but proactively interact with peers and staff in a way that is engaging and in the moment. Coaching is not imposing your view or giving a list of what needs to be done. It is about a careful give-and-take about how someone can be better. I have always used the “Oreo-cookie” model of coaching. I start with something truly positive that the person does. I introduce the topic at hand, and then I finish with a positive note. I never tell anyone anything, and I try to avoid statements such as “Let me tell you how this needs to be done….” I try using words such as “I would like to suggest…” or “I have an idea that would help this along….”
How to Set the Stage for Successful Coaching
Setting the stage for successful coaching is essential. Effective coaches always think about and plan for the best timing, atmosphere, and location for a successful coaching session. Coaching in an environment that is safe and secure for both the coach and the person being coached is paramount to having a successful session and outcome. I can’t imagine anyone would like to be coached in an open atmosphere with many prying ears, especially if the message to be delivered is a tough one! Embarrassing someone is a guaranteed way to make sure your message is not received!
I remember when I was coached by the best, I was always asked, before any coaching began, if I was ready and willing to accept and receive coaching. Additionally, a good coach acknowledges willingness and readiness. Conversely, a good coach knows when not to coach and looks to set the stage for another time. I have always favored taking someone to coffee or finding a nice place where we can both be relaxed. Going for a walk works well for me. The trick is to avoid having the person being coached get defensive, and the right location can keep everyone calm and in a good place to listen.
Next month, I will offer the rest of my seven steps of great coaches. Please share your thoughts and comments on coaching on the blog!
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