It’s time for next-level skills coaching
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As you start to build and enhance the skills of your employees, you’ll likely use various methods to reinforce progress. Besides online training, one-on-one feedback, and hands-on training, you should utilize the benefits of skills coaching.
Why should teams use coaching in the workplace? There are two main reasons for workplace coaching:
1. addressing performance issues in underperforming employees and
2. bolstering the top producers’ skills.
But, what is coaching really meant to accomplish? By offering targeted and timely coaching, you can help underperforming employees pull out of a slump and become more productive. And by giving some attention to your top achievers, you can drastically improve their performance and create benefits across your organization.
Coaching often consists of a direct supervisor or manager offering insights, feedback, best practices, and guidance to help employees excel in their day-to-day tasks. Good coaching will reinforce good behaviors and gently eradicate negative ones. Coaching should focus on constructive ways to empower the employee to do better, and a savvy manager will know how to help the employee remove obstacles from their path.
Coaching vs. mentoring
Coaching and mentoring may seem like the same thing, but they should be very different in practice. Coaching is a more standardized and company or team-wide practice while mentoring focuses more on passing specific knowledge to a particular individual. That’s why having a good skills coaching definition is necessary before your team or organization moves forward. So, how can you tell the difference? You can define coaching vs. mentoring and tell them apart using a few key features.
Mentoring often has a specific goal in mind, such as training someone to take on a particular role. A senior executive will often mentor a mid-level teammate to take over their position when moving upward or retiring. Mentoring often focuses on the gained experience of the mentor and doesn’t typically apply to the organization as a whole.
Coaching tends to encompass broader skills that can benefit everyone in a given role. A coach focuses on ways to help every employee develop their skills, address weak areas, and excel even further wherever they show promise. A coach may interact with employees in groups or one-on-one, but it’s not limited to an employee or two. Coaching encompasses an entire team or department.
A mentor often prepares someone for a role or focuses on nurturing a single individual. Mentoring may be more career-oriented and less concerned with short-term goals or performance. Mentorship can last months or even years, and a person does not usually have specialized training when they begin mentorship.
Coaching often has a more defined goal. Coaches can also have specialized training that gives them a greater ability to teach others vital workplace skills. Coaching is more goal-oriented (event-based), cyclic (yearly training), or remedial (corrective training for certain behaviors).
Mentoring and coaching have different purposes even though they can look very similar. They are both supposed to help employees improve their daily functions, add new skills, sharpen existing ones, and even gain more confidence
Mentoring has a broad purpose that can change over time. Coaching should have defined mini-goals, even when there is an overarching theme. Coaching sessions should address specific problems, offer targeted feedback, and be implemented with consistency.
The benefits of skills coaching
Consider this—over 75% of employees want coaching in the workplace. And, when revenue leaders deliver personalized coaching to each and every one of their reps, their team sees amazing results including:
1. Increased productivity
2. Higher employee engagement
3. Improved retention
4. Increases in sales
5. Better closed-won rates
Want to learn more about the benefits that come with delivering personalized skills coaching? Take a look at our newest ebook, Next-Level Coaching, to see why the success of revenue teams depends on great coaching.
But before your managers and leaders can start coaching their employees for skill development, they also need to be equipped with the right skills and qualities needed for effective coaching. And while supervisors are in a perfect position to coach their employees on improving workplace skills, most managers don’t know how to get started. Most mistakenly envision coaching as something more like consulting, where the “coach” weighs in with the solutions they think are best. Coaching skills for managers should look more like collaboration than “telling” the employee how to fix things.
The skills and qualities of a coach may seem elusive, but any good manager can acquire the basics with a bit of training. A good coach brings out the best in those they are trying to help, and that often entails an approach that is a little less direct. Most managers struggle with the finer points of coaching because they are more used to directing their employees regarding how and when to perform specific tasks. So, what are the skills of a coach that you can start teaching your managers right now?
Too often, supervisors take a management approach, telling the person they’re coaching what to do. Coaching is so effective because it empowers the employee, offering the tools they need to work on themselves. Listing actions to follow won’t have meaning unless they also come from within. When employees can put their own spin on the improvement plan, or contribute to the suggestions, they’ll feel more involved in the process and less likely to feel talked down to.
People often resist statements like “this is what you did wrong, and here’s how to fix it.” Humans naturally push back against such imposition because it makes them feel powerless or as if they did something incorrectly. Instead, ask your employee what they think went wrong, and how they’d like to fix it. Your employee may lack the resources to address the problem, even if they know what it is.
Since communication is vital to coaching success, you may need to train your managers to acquire these skills before coaching others. Communication coaching can take many forms, but it should focus on core skills that apply across many fields of expertise. Effective communication coaching should include verbal, written, and visual aspects. Remember to incorporate these aspects into your coaching skills training outline, because they’re integral to any good training program.
Intuition and empathy
Managers and supervisors often focus on what they need from the employee. That’s understandable because a manager’s primary function is to identify tasks that need completed and prioritize them by the deadline. But coaching requires more sensitivity to the employee’s needs.
By making the employee a participant in the improvement process and not merely a passive recipient, you’ll drastically improve your coaching outcomes. Having the intuition and emotional sensitivity to respond to what your employees truly need is crucial to coaching success. Employees who feel heard and appreciated are more engaged, have lower turnover rates, and score higher on-the-job performance metrics.
Level-up skills coaching
We believe that it’s time for leaders to challenge the status quo and take skills coaching to the next level. It’s exactly why we created the ebook that’s at the top of this page. In it, we dive into five key results that revenue leaders see when they embrace and deliver personalized skills coaching at scale. It also breaks down how Lessonly by Seismic helps teams assess rep’s skill levels, uncover opportunities for skills coaching, and build personalized coaching plans for success. Give it a look today, or click here to learn more.