“Put Me In Coach–I’m Ready To Play!”

Effective Coaching Helps ‘Push’ Business Success and ‘Pull’ Effective Leadership.
By Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

If you’re not getting better, you’re falling behind. In today’s multi-media world, you need to “take your game to the next level.”
To be competitive, you need effective coaching.
Tiger Woods knows this, as does every world class athlete, opera singer, performer or executive. It’s true of your station sales, programming, technical and other staff as well.
Winners in any profession understand that without the right “coach,” they won’t achieve their objectives. And the objective is winning.
As a consultant, I must wear many hats: advisor, expert, salesperson, problem solver, coach, referee, banker, publisher and author. I believe a steady focus on effective coaching will increase your performance, even in the face of client and project distractions, and secure your spot as a winner.
Active ongoing coaching is the quickest way to improve your station’s performance level. Unfortunately, coaching may be the item bypassed by busy general managers, market managers, programmers, DOEs and sales managers.
In my travels as a consultant, I am reminded every time I turn on the radio that most air talent lack the “relate-ability” and entertainment skills necessary to keep me tuned in.
Since coaching is something done with people, rather than to people, how well prepared (both in skills and attitude) are managers to coach? Managers typically possess an innate interpersonal technique; so perhaps management’s perceived value of coaching can be an indication of how readily it’s being absorbed into business culture and put into practice.
Coaching has a powerful, long-term impact on people and your station’s effectiveness. Coaching is talking with a person in a way that helps him or her solve a problem.
Some managers confuse coaching with giving advice. As Gore Vidal said, “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”
The reality is often that, as Gordon Dickson noted, “Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.”
What is a more effective approach?
Managers are asked to improve productivity without additional resources. They need to invite employees to participate as partners, develop trusting relationships and combine everyone’s best efforts into creating business solutions.
One option is to enhance behavior and performance through interactive communication and influence, such as coaching. Managers also need to use their coaching skills within the company with those who don’t necessarily report to them, and outside their organization.
There is an increasing need to improve involvement and engagement of all employees to achieve business outcomes.
An effective coaching skills strategy emphasizes collaboration and respect rather than control and faultfinding. Such a strategy adds a tangible aspect of value. People can see effort being expanded in helping them do a good job and experiencing a sense of achievement.
Effective coaching skills, therefore, contribute to not only a “push” to achieving business outcomes, but also a “pull” towards effective leadership.
Traits
What makes a good management coach?
Think of the following as an “air-check” for your management team on coaching employees.
Knows the discipline he or she is coaching.
It seems obvious, but a coach must know ins and outs of the discipline—the rules, the history, the tactics, etc. Without it, neither coach nor employee will be able to do their jobs properly and will quickly lose face when they start making mistakes.

Motivates the team—This is probably the most important trait of a good coach. Without proper motivation, everything comes apart. Remember that a coach will need to lead a team of individuals, everyone with different personal goals. The coach’s job is giving the team enough motivation to turn their attention from their private matters to the goals of the station.

Talks only when it gets results—A good coach will never speak without a good cause. If he or she talks too much, employees will stop listening. A coach should talk only when necessary—this will give the words and extra weight.
Ability to listen—Being calmer than usual is a good indication the coach is a good listener. If the manager is to become a good coach, he or she needs to think like a surrogate father or mother for the team; listening is the single most important trait that can make it possible.
Knows their team—Another important matter is a coach knowing one’s team. It’s not only about matching numbers with names. A good coach knows about the professional and the private lives of their teammates.
Treats everyone individually—While a good coach should know everybody, it is necessary to treat each employee individually. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Leads by example—A good coach does everything he or she will ask others to do. They always set an example.

Interpersonal issues
Beyond technical aspects of setting goals during coaching, it is critical to pay attention to certain interpersonal issues: As a coach, you must set clear expectations, performance standards and specific objectives regarding what should be done, when and how. Measure performance. Focus on behavior, not value judgments. Correct deviations from performance standards.
Make it clear that you are on the same side as the employee and that the objective of the meeting is for the employee to be successful. Provide guidance while preserving the employee’s self-esteem. Give an employee with longer service an extended time to improve. Set the time for improvement in accordance with the specific behavior involved.
Managers, employees and their established work practices are under pressure to change and achieve results never before asked of them. Effective coaching skills, while not the only need, can be a major contributor to the solutions.
Effective systematic coaching is an opportunity to build meaningful partnerships between members of an organization who meet these challenges. Without effective coaching skills, progress is just that much harder.
Mark Twain said it: “I’m all for progress, it’s change that I don’t like.”

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