I’ve certainly run across my share of amazing managers that actually coach well and coach consistently. Unfortunately they are still the minority. Until companies truly make coaching as much of a priority as hitting their sales targets, most managers are left on their own to figure out the secret formula for effective coaching and how to lead a team to achieve unprecedented results. Ironically, in order to consistently hit your sales targets and have each salesperson on your team hit their individual goals, managers always need to be coaching!
So, how does a manager know when they are truly coaching effectively? While many managers believe they are coaching their sales team, the truth is, they’re not. They are doing something else, such as training, directing, counseling, mentoring or advising. Just to be clear, there is no such thing as ‘directive coaching.’
To assess how good a coach you really are, one way is simple; just ask your sales team!
However, to self-assess your coaching acumen, it’s essential for every manager to look in a mirror, instead of looking out a window and be honest about where you stand in your evolutionary journey to becoming a world class coach.
If you’re following a proven coaching framework and methodology, then by default, the coaching conversations will happen automatically and you’ll be able to naturally tap into each person’s individuality so they can live their fullest potential today. However, if you and your direct reports are having a different coaching experience, or you find it difficult to coach, here are some tips from your coach, along with 12 questions you can ask yourself to uncover your growth opportunities so that you can continually better your best.
- When coaching, are you facilitating the conversation with open ended questions or closed ended questions?
Coaching Tip: If you’re asking closed ended questions, you’re closing your people and directing them to the outcome you want, not coaching them. Don’t be sneaky! Open ended, loaded questions that contain your opinion or advice don’t count! (Example: “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to…..” or “Have you tried…”)
- Are you patient? Do you give people the space to think through issues and arrive at a conclusion in the way THEY process information?
Coaching Tip: Respecting each person’s individuality also means respecting their thought process.
- Are you focused on their agenda or yours?
Coaching Tip: Coaching isn’t about you! Your people need to know that when you schedule a true coaching session, it’s 100% about them.
- Are you coaching in your own image?
Coaching Tip: Does your experience actually get in the way of tapping into each person’s wisdom, talents and individuality? Do you find yourself saying things like, “Well, when I was in your position, here’s what I did when I was in a similar situation….” If so, you’re building robots or creating clones.
- Are you consistently coaching each person on your team?
Coaching Tip: If you feel compelled to jump in and solve a problem that’s gotten out of control or close a deal at the end of a quarter, you’ve already missed the coaching opportunity! If you were coaching consistently, you would be able to recognize the problem in its infancy, when your people can do something about it.
- Are you asking questions that you don’t know the answer to?
Coaching Tip: If so, you’re coaching! In many cases, while you may have the answers to their challenges, you want your directs to arrive at the solution on their own. People resist what they hear but believe what they say.
- Do you have a difficult time holding back your opinion in a conversation?
Coaching Tip: First, seek to understand the other person’s point of view. So, don’t take the bait when you ask them a question and they say, “I don’t know, boss! Tell me!” Remember, everyone has an opinion.
- Do you act as the Chief Problem Solver, providing the solutions for your people every time they come to you?
Coaching Tip: Every manager wants a team of independent, accountable salespeople. When you do the work for them, you create dependency on you. Consequently, if your solution doesn’t work, then it’s your fault and they get to blame you! Now, you’re accountable for the solution, not them.
- Do you struggle to find topics to discuss during a scheduled coaching session or get your people to open up?
Coaching Tip: If so, then you’re either pushing your own agenda, not observing them or there may be a trust issue. So, do a gut check; how do you know if your people trust you?
- Is every person on your team open to your coaching and sharing the value they receive from coaching?
Coaching Tip: Did you clarify your intentions when coaching your team? Did you take the time to set expectations by asking them what would make coaching valuable for them? Even with noble intentions, if they don’t know what you are doing, why you are doing it and what’s in it for them, like any human being, their default file is fear. The result? Resistance and pushback around coaching.
- Do you feel that your value as a manager is being the subject matter expert?
Coaching Tip: It’s certainly part of your value but that’s only going to take your team so far. Your real value and primary objective is making your people more valuable and building future leaders who can think on their own. The byproduct? You hit your sales targets.