Setup Your Coaching System in 2017

Ignite! - The 4 Essential Rules for Emerging Leaders

What would it be like if all of your team members were highly committed to you and the business?

As we work with leaders and executives around the world, there’s one skillset that differentiates the good from the great. The great leaders are always great coaches. Hands down.

I was having a conversation this week with the former President of a multi-billion dollar consumer packaged goods company and when I asked him what contributed most to his success, he said two things. “One, my executive coach, the person who coached me, had a huge impact on my career. Two, I was able to create a coaching system that we used with thousands of our employees in the business.”

It’s funny, the healthiest leaders have coaches. They don’t need coaches; they want coaches.

Your healthiest employees don’t need you to coach them either. BUT, they want you to coach them.

To be a great coach, and to set yourself apart from other leaders who don’t have time to be coached or to coach others, you need a coaching system. And that’s the purpose of this post – to share a practical and proven system that will measurably impact your people, processes and business.

Here are three components of the coaching system that will elevate your coaching effectiveness:

  1. Create a coaching cadence.
  2. Develop strong assessment skills.
  3. Utilize a model for your coaching conversations.

Let’s look at these in more detail.

Coaching System Component #1: Create a Coaching Cadence

A coaching cadence is the structure, or forcing function, that defines when and how often you coach. We think about a coaching cadence as a series of building blocks, with each block serving a different purpose. These building blocks create consistency within your coaching practice.

Building Block #1: Ah-ha! Moments – These are coachable moments that happen everyday in the workplace. They come in 37 second increments as you’re walking between meetings or passing someone in the hallway. Ah-ha! moments are opportunities for you to recognize wins and also help people make minor course corrections. They are informal and always about helping others be successful.

Build Block #2: Regular One-on-Ones – Everyone needs regular one-on-ones. The challenge is twofold – (1) usually with the leader who lets the urgent override the important and the meetings get cancelled, and (2) the leader who focuses the sessions entirely on the transactional instead of allowing for them to be at least partly developmental. One-on-ones should focus on both the results you expect from your people as well as their career developmental areas. Oh, and, don’t forget your high performers. They want them too.

Building Block #3: Regular Quarterly Goal ReviewsM/strong> – This building block is slightly more formal than the others preceding it. During quarterly goal reviews the leader and team member formally look at their goals or OKRs (objectives and key results) to determine if they are still in alignment with the business needs. Adjustments are made and more formal feedback and feedforward is provided.

Building Block #4: The Annual Performance Review – While the traditional annual performance review is in the midst of being disrupted across industries, it should always be a summary of what happened throughout the entire year. If you’ve consistently implemented the other building blocks, there should never be a surprise in the annual review.

Coaching System Component #2: Develop Strong Assessment Skills

Leaders who are great at coaching are also great at assessing where others need coaching.

There are many dimensions in which you can coach people. You might coach them around their performance or how well they collaborate. You might help them see aspects of themselves that they can’t see on their own. And of course, great coaches always let their people know what others won’t tell them directly.

To help you hone in on where people need coaching, we suggest using the Leadership Coaching Grid. The purpose of the Leadership Coaching Grid is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and provide insight into where each team member needs coaching. The leadership coaching grid provides both an individual and collective scan of your team and brings discipline and measurement into your people, coaching, and succession decisions.

Here’s how it works.

The grid lays out critical dimensions along with risk factors, enabling you to assess your people and then target their most important coaching needs. Below is an example with key dimensions that we teach in our leadership development and coaching programs. You can customize the results and relationships dimensions. But, I’d highly recommend that you keep the coachability and risk dimensions.

  • Results: How well does the team member deliver on expected results and goals?
  • Relationships: How well does the team member build relationships with others, act as a team player and work collaboratively?
  • Coachability: How open is the team member to feedback/coaching, and how willing is he/she to change based on the feedback?

Risk factors: These are dimensions that inevitably will derail a person’s career. Risk factor scores are subtracted from the overall score for each risk area. A person may have one or more risk factors.

  • Controlling behavior: controls information, keeps data from others; micro manages people instead of focusing on outcomes.
  • Ego: ego centric behavior, puts self agenda over the team and organizational needs.
  • Avoidant behavior: overly passive or agreeable, avoids difficult conversations, unassertive in conflict.

My intent in sharing this tool is for you to use it only as a coaching tool to inform your one-on-ones, quarterly goal reviews and annual reviews. The intent is not to use the Leadership Coaching Grid as a stack ranking tool.

Coaching System Component #3: Utilize a Model for Coaching Conversations

Now that you have a coaching cadence in place, a tool to assess how your people are performing, the next step is to have a goto model to guide the coaching conversation. We developed a simple four-step process that allows the coach to focus on the most important items in a conversation and help the team member see the cause and effect of their behaviors – both positive and constructive. Here’s the model.

Situation: Begin by describing the behavior you saw as specifically as possible.

Impact: Next, describe the impact of the behavior — on you, on other team members, on your customers,etc. Describing the  impact helps team members understand the consequences of their behavior. The impact statement creates the motivation behind behavior change. Then, clarify what you expect from your team member.

Input: Ask the team member for input on what they can do to improve. Actively participating in coming up with solutions means they will be much more committed to the solution.

Follow Up: Schedule time for follow-up to reinforce behavioral change and increase the likelihood of improving performance.

You can use this same model to make your recognition efforts more impactful too.

What’s Next?

As you begin this new year and seek to achieve higher results for yourself, your people and the business, make this the year that your coaching becomes entirely intentional. Modify the system as you needed, but put a coaching system in place.

Get clear about when and how often you will coach others.

Get better at assessing where your people need coaching.

Have a goto model for facilitating the coaching conversation.