Coaching Challenges

Tim Connor

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There is a difference between training and coaching. Training is teaching people what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. (That’s the next chapter. ) Coaching is catching people doing it right or wrong and either guiding them to do it better or do it right. Coaching is a gradual modification of behavior by rewarding the behavior you want continued and bringing incorrect or inappropriate behavior or actions to the awareness of the individual so they can see how it needs to change. Remember, all discovery is self-discovery.

You cannot manage your organization from behind your desk. It is critical for coaching success that you circulate among your employees so you can observe behavior in action.

Coaching must be tailored to the background, experience, personality style, goals, skill level, and attitudes of the individual. To do otherwise is to invite frustration and failure.

Effective coaching should be done in private so as to preserve the self-image and status of the individual among his or her peers. No one likes the disapproval of their fellow employees.

Effective coaching should build on existing strengths while attempting to change inappropriate actions. When coaching an individual, always affirm something positive or right that they are doing before discussing the inappropriate behavior.

Annual reviews are not a long-term effective way to coach employees. If you have wrong behavior, don’t wait a year or even six months to fix it. Coaching is positive, spontaneous, motivating, and productive.

There are two ways to have highly productive employees. Hire perfect employees (unlikely!) or coach employees into a higher level of performance. Coaching, as I have said, is a different activity than training and one that takes a great deal of time, observation, employee involvement, discussion, and patience. Coaching is just one form of feedback.

We mentioned earlier the old saying that says, “Don’t send your Ducks to Eagle school. " Yes and no. Not everyone was meant to fly as high as the Eagles. Without getting into an in-depth philosophical discussion here: I believe that everyone has unlimited potential, but I also believe that many people are unwilling to do their part to ensure that their potential is realized. Some people are satisfied flying closer to the ground. Some people need to soar. Neither behavior nor attitude is right or wrong. People have a right to their own objectives and lifestyle goals.

The objective of consistent, positive, and pertinent coaching is to help those employees to want to do better, period. Coaching guides the employee, regardless of their position, to the higher ground. One example that comes to mind is where company Presidents often fail to give adequate coaching time to their Vice-Presidents.

Their assumption is that, because I am paying them a six-figure-income and they have 25 years of experience, they should be able to just jump in and do the job correctly all the time. Not so. They may not need coaching on Management 101, on people skills, or the basics of the business, but they will need time with the President to be able to get up to speed on corporate history, rituals, perceptions, expectations, and historical issues that impacted where the organization is today.

Managers often tell me they are too busy with paperwork, administrative issues, meetings, or whatever to coach their employees. Crisis management is the result of employees at whatever level – from the President to the janitor – repeating the same mistakes, ignoring the consequences of previous mistakes, or being oblivious to the fact that mistakes are being made. These mistakes, errors, or whatever you want to call them, are costing your organization right off the bottom line.

The challenge of coaching is one way to improve results by reducing mistakes.

There are also numerous benefits for hiring an outside coach. An outside coach:

  • Will bring objectivity to the employees’ actions and behaviors.
  • Doesn’t have agendas with the employee or the organization.
  • Tends to be neutral in situations where the person’s manager might get too emotionally involved.
  • Is not wrapped up in corporate politics and, therefore, can remain neutral in situations that involve potential conflict.

    There is a reason why Olympic athletes have coaches even though they are the best in the world at their sport. They want to get better and they need the experience, expertise, objectivity, and support of someone they respect and trust.

    If you are not coaching all of your employees regularly, you are missing opportunities to help them help you and your organization excel.

    Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That’s Life, Peace Of Mind, 81 Challenges Managers Face and Your First Year In Sales. He is also the CEO of Sales Clubs Of America. He can be reached at , 704-895-1230 or visit his websites at or .

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