Performance coaching produces results that many organizations find wanting in the traditional performance management and appraisal culture.  The major difference is that coaching occurs in real time; and performance appraisal is retrospective and occurs – usually – well after the fact.  The practical impact is that coaching is appreciated and performance appraisal is resented.

Theoretically, every manager/leader should also be a coach to direct reports.  Maybe, someday, that will happen.  Imagine the impact on the organization from a personal and professional development standpoint if managers understood how to be an effective coach.

To develop a coaching climate within your organization, there are specific skill sets, experience levels, and behavioral attitudes you need to champion among your key managers.  The impact on your bottom line and your ability to recruit, retain, and develop star players will be profound if you make this investment and sustain the effort.

Until you have the internal skills, you might want to consider these factors in selecting an external coach.  The person/people you bring in to work with your key people should have the following abilities and capabilities:

  1. Knowledge of goal setting.  This requires knowledge of organizational direction, individual position outcomes, and some interviewing skills so that the right questions are asked.

  2. Ability to give encouraging feedback.  Corrective feedback is more than what we generally call constructive criticism.  This requires a level of straight forward tact and diplomacy that is foreign to many position based leaders. 

  3. Skill in questioning to encourage self-appraisal and goal setting.  Effective coaches know how to help people increase their awareness of what works and what doesn’t by pulling it out of those being coached rather than telling them all about it.

  4. Empathy and patience.  We are all works-in-progress.

  5. Ability to build and maintain rapport.  Rapport is the key to overcoming resistance and gaining commitment.

  6. Ability to look at options.  Sometimes the coach has to guide someone into creating options that did not seem possible when first looking at the challenge.

  7. Recognition of self-imposed, personal and organizational limitations.  People seldom exceed their self-imposed limitations.  Effective coaches help others see the world of possibilities and move them toward implementation.

  8.  Sensory acuity.  In short, an effective coach knows that communication is more than verbal and notices incongruent signals and unease.  .  

Interview a potential coach just as you would any other employee.  If you hear what sounds like jargon and psychobabble, you might want to keep looking.  The one you need is still out there.

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