Employee Development & Coaching
I want to share a few things that I've learned about employee development and coaching. We teach some skills to help others develop the competency of coaching other people.
There are some skills and techniques to it, because it's not about giving advice, it's about drawing out of the other person. But underneath those skills, I want to talk about the key to employee development and coaching in your mind … and it has to do with belief. There are two ways that you need to adjust your own beliefs so that you will be effective at coaching and developing others.
Believe in Them
The first is to believe in the person. The second is to not believe their story. What it means to believe in the person is that in your mind, in your gut, you believe that this person can grow, that they can change that, and that they can be better.
If that belief is not truly in you, your heart won't be in the coaching and development efforts that you make. And how often do we make the mistake of judging someone too quickly – of evaluating their capacity based on what they can do today instead of seeing the potential in them of what they can become?
When you believe in someone, when you believe in what they can become, it changes how you see them. It changes how you talk to them. And that belief can begin to infect them and generate a confidence that they need to take some risky steps to help them to grow.
Don’t Believe their Story
But as you believe in them, you have to be very careful that you don't believe their story. All of us go through tough times, or we have a stuck story. It’s a place that we can't get past because we've accepted limits or we've made excuses – and those things are very real to us. We believe them. We think they're true and they become part of our story of why we're not able to go to the next level.
If you believe and accept someone else's stuck story, you can't help them. You can't develop or grow that person any further because you've accepted the same limitation. The same excuse that they have put on themselves. So you can't believe their story no matter how true it sounds, and no matter how factual. “Well, there's this obstacle… there's that… or this is my situation, and so that's why it can't happen.”
Those are all part of their story and you absolutely cannot believe their story. The moment you believe the story, you stop being able to coach or develop them any further. Walking that path of believing in them, but not believing them, is the mental key. It's the mental discipline that enables you to be a good coach and develop someone else's ability.
The final mental discipline required for coaching others is staying curious.
Curiosity is not just a nice-to-have trait for coaching. It is essential. Let me explain why. When you lose your curiosity, you begin to make assumptions, and assumptions can utterly kill the coaching process.
When you coach others, it's probably because you have more age, experience, skill, or wisdom in that area. And that very advantage can become your biggest blind spot. You can jump ahead, finish the person's sentences and read into the situation before you really have enough information. Then your coaching could push them in the wrong direction.
Even if you are right, the absence of curiosity will be communicated to your coachee as an arrogance or disinterest that will reduce your influence with them. On the other hand, if you cultivate curiosity in yourself, you can model that same approach to your coachee, which is a huge win.
If they will stop making assumptions themselves and become curious, they will open the door to whole new levels of growth and development that were formerly closed to them.
Just remember, you are not a coach because you have all the answers. You are a coach because you know the right questions to ask.
Your job is not to give great advice and tell them what to do, but rather to help them see the challenge correctly and clearly recognize their own thinking and behavior so that their new choices will be authentic and integrated.
It will make sense to them.
Go out, and coach somebody.
Follow us on LinkedIn to get thoughtful articles on the bridges leaders must build and cross to inspire greater performance.