In addition to a culture of learning, integrating a coaching culture is highly correlated with business performance, employee engagement, and overall retention. Coaching is crucial to a well-designed employee engagement initiative. Great leaders understand that their firm’s success is predicated on the success of each employee, and that engaging employees to help them enhance their own capacity, competence and skill set is an investment in the bottom line.
Great coaches connect with their protégés, help find areas of improvement and share strategies on achieving results. Step one for any coach is to set expectations. Showcase what works and lead by example. This means meeting individuals on their level to understand their worldview in order to establish strategies for success.
> Set Goals
The importance of setting simple, clear goals cannot be overstated. Clearly defined, written goals that are shared with peers create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction. Following up on employee and team goals is also important, companies that revisit goals quarterly have threefold greater improvement in performance and retention than those that revisit goals yearly.
> Develop an Action Plan, Together
Spending time to understand an individual’s current business and personal issues and jointly diagnose problems and possible strategies for change is important. Develop an action plan together that will help the individual achieve objectives. The best coaches ask leading questions that help the individual frame issues themselves then provide constructive feedback on improvements.
> Preparing for Coaching
Just like employee engagement is a two-way street, so is coaching. It’s up to both coach and individual to be prepared for a coaching session. Spending 15 minutes in quiet to think about and prepare for the upcoming dialogue is important. Review notes from previous coaching sessions and set an agenda for the call ahead.
> Drills: Practice Makes Permanent
Developing a clear line of sight between action, goals and business outcomes will encourage action that contributes to employee engagement and the corresponding bottom line results. Focusing on the practical, tactical elements of execution over and over will help secure business outcomes. And this type of practice, or business tactical drilling, is just as important as focusing coaching sessions on the bigger picture.
> Develop Confidence
Clear feedback from both coach and individual is key to a successful coaching relationship. The strategic nature of feedback and how it is appreciated stems from the firm’s culture – if the environment is accepting of a feedback loop, the process is much easier for both sides.
Feedback itself is critical, but even more important is the quality of the feedback. The best coaches are discriminating regarding how they give feedback, as poorly delivered or un-strategic criticism can have an opposite effect of the intent. Good feedback is clear, relevant, non-evaluative, and positive. If feedback is seen as arrogate or dismissive, the individual can become less productive than before.
> Post-game (game-tape) Coaching
Sports teams from junior varsity to professional use game tape to learn about their strengths, weaknesses and gaps in performance. The same strategy is a best practice for training your team. Using a video capture tool to share pitches, responses to customer objections and best practices is important.
Using a tool like LearnCore’s Pitch IQ, sales representatives can learn from top performers, upload their own video for feedback, and managers can make sure messaging is consistent while identifying gaps. These gaps can then be addressed and tracked in the coaching environment.
Tying it Together – And to the Bottom Line
A cooperative learning environment, combined with effective employee engagement practices started at the top, will lead to well-developed sales reps who are engaged and confident. As study after study shows, these engaged employees, armed with the right tools and a coach committed to their success will have a direct, positive, and sustained impact on the bottom line.