Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coach for encouragement, not punishment!

As we headed into a series of communication and customer service workshops for the entire staff of an organization, we kicked off the series with a session for the managers. A critical focus of the workshop was to review their coaching standards. Everyone has a card with Coaching for Praise on one side and Coaching for Improvement on the other. I'll focus on the former in another post.

Mark Twain said, "Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time." Coaching involves a lot of coaxing, encouraging and supporting. We need to plan for that conversation, first by examining our intent. We do that by thinking about what we need to say to the person and why we need to say it. Then we can proceed with the steps:

1. State our observation. Ask yourself, "What specific, observable behavior can you describe?"

2. Ask for their perspective. And ask yourself, "What can I say to make it easier for them to ask questions? How can I get some brainstorming going─using open-ended questions?"

3. Restate the standard and be specific—is it from their job description, customer service or organizational standards or policy?

4. Offer support—help them create an action plan and schedule opportunities for feedback as they make progress.

5. Encourage—what can you say to encourage them? Think of their criteria—what motivates them. And, of course, follow up!

Two final thoughts: We need to think about our nonverbals─how we will look and sound as we're giving this feedback and encouragement. And, we need to avoid judgment, which comes out with phrases and words such as: "I didn’t like…" "I have a problem with your attitude." And the little word, BUT!