“Words do not label things already there. Words are like the knife of the carver; they free the idea, the thing from the general formlessness of the outside. As a man speaks, not only is his language in a state of birth, but also the very thing about which he is talking. ”
In the top of my coat closet I keep a number of different hats, but when I go for a walk I most frequently put on the black felt one. In the same way, I recommend that you think of team coaching as just one more hat that you wear at work, a tool that complements the other management styles and approaches you may use.
As a coach, you’ll empower your staff member and help them improve their job performance. And it’s not that hard to get started, even if you’ve never really seen yourself as a coach before. One of the most effective ways to begin the process of creating a climate of coaching is to explain your new goal to your team—you’re a problem solver, a friend, and the owner of the business; essentially, a business coach.
One of the most effective ways to begin the process of creating a climate of coaching is to explain your new goal to your team. “At various times I may wear the hat of the business owner, other times as a problem solver, and at other times, as your friend. Another new hat or relationship I’d like to also introduce is that of being a coach.
You don’t need to claim to be an excellent coach, especially if you’re new. In fact, I’ve found that it’s far better to elicit assistance from your staff, so together you learn how to be both a good coach and coachable players. The key is to communicate, which means everyone takes turns talking and listening.
Introducing the role of a coach to your staff might go like this: “First, I want you to know that it’s my goal and desire to manage this practice as well as I can. I’ve recently been introduced to coaching, and feel strongly that developing my abilities as a coach will enhance the quality of our practice and create an environment where we’ll all enjoy working.
“As a coach, my job is to help you be the best you can be at your job. Of course, it’s in my self-interest to have you be great at your job, and I trust it’s also in yours. While I don’t claim to be a masterful coach yet, I’m sure together we can learn to create a relationship that helps everyone win. ”
Handling personnel issues makes up a good chunk of your job as a coach. And I’m not denying that you’ll continue to face some difficult moments. These strategies from my playbook may help:
Call time out on staff conflicts
While conflicts are a normal part of almost any situation involving human beings, it’s possible to transform a conflict between two staff members into an occasion that will deepen the level of cooperation and collaboration in the future. Conflicts arise when one or more of the people involved become upset. Upsets stem from an undelivered communication (or miscommunication), a thwarted intention or commitment, or an unfulfilled expectation.
Interestingly, these are all internal states. The problem is occurring at an emotional level with the person who’s upset—although most of us think we’re upset about something outside ourselves, that someone else has done something to make us upset. Start by sharing this new perspective with your staff members and ask them to work with it for a few weeks. Tell your team that you hope this perspective will help lessen conflicts and encourage cooperation. Then check in periodically to monitor the results. Remember, when introducing a new concept like this, use a coaching approach of “try this on and see how it fits. ” Encourage people to keep an open mind, and not let their old beliefs get in the way. You can both check in individually, with a “What are you learning about yourself from that coaching conversation we had the other day about upsets, ” as well as checking in collectively during a staff meeting.
©2005 Brad Swift of Life On Purpose Institute, Inc. This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and this resource box are included.
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