By Mark Landiak
May 11, 2016 - Front-line managers may be the most important element to achieving success on the front lines... and the ability of managers to coach their teams to higher levels of proficiency and performance is a manager's most important skillset. Much of our management training focuses on advising front-line managers on how to coach “in the moment.” This means coaching one-on-one, immediately before or after an interaction. In a recent seminar, we invited managers to share their own coaching moment narratives and answer the question,“Knowing what you know now, what might you have done better/differently in your last coaching observations and interactions?”
Hindsight is 20/20. Highly proficient managers (those who do their jobs with excellence) possess the judgment to assess situations, solicit input and provide relevant guidance. Coaching “in the moment” takes planning and skill. Before any manager can coach “in the moment”, they have to know how to approach each situation.
Here are four step-by-step tips for approaching a coaching conversation:
Identify a coaching moment. Truly proficient managers are vigilant. They regularly observe their associates and reconcile behaviors with the understandings of proper store policy and company philosophy on selling to and/or serving customers. Identifying a coaching moment means identifying both successful outcomes and opportunities for improvement. If the timing isn't appropriate for an immediate coaching moment, make notes on the positives and negatives of the observation for when the opportunity presents itself at a later time.
Determine whether to coach in public or private. When someone has success, it is completely appropriate to recognize, compliment, coach and even reward in front of the group. But when counseling is required, find a private space for coaching the individual. No one likes to be made the example (especially when they are new or have unknowingly made a mistake). This will preserve a mutual respect and help the two of you communicate more clearly (i.e. - without distraction) on the issue at hand.
Use "Walk-Throughs" as a Learning Experience. As a manager, it's important to ask the employee to "walk you through the interaction" and describe what they think they did well and what they may have done differently. As the employee describes their recollection of the interaction, reinforce their observations and share exactly what you observed. Both positive and negative behaviors should be highlighted. Furthermore, your feedback should be delivered in a way that educates but does not demoralize your associates. Recap the interaction from start to finish. Use phrases such as, “I like that you ...” to highlight positive behaviors. When highlighting negative ones, frame it as a question. Ask them, “How might you have improved this?” These walkthroughs can be a great opportunity to refer back to your BYB™ MAPs and identify profit-driving behaviors.
Finish the interaction on a positive note. Upon concluding a coaching conversation, it's important that you leave on a positive note and with clearly defined expectations. Reinforce your belief in the person. Recognize and reinforce improvements and what they did well. Also, ask what additional help they might want from you. Tell them what level of coaching they can expect next by using the phrase, “What you can expect from me is...” In sharing these expectations, managers will create/reinforce trust with their associates and keep them focused on continuing their development in the position.
These ideas are pivotal to the Beat Your Best™ Coaching Process. High-performing Managers utilize their coaching skills to build high-performance sales and customer service teams. Developing these skills is vital to cultivating the talents of your employees and managing a profitable business.