Imagine you want to buy a a new sofa for your living room. You check out various furniture stores, do a few test-sits, run your fingers across surfaces, compare fabrics and colors. Eventually you pick a sofa and look forward to its delivery.
Finally, delivery day comes. The movers carry in your sofa, you show them to the living room – and get a nasty surprise: The new gem is much too big to fit between the aquarium and the cabinet! As a matter of fact, there's no space for it anywhere in that room ...
Is it possible you've overlooked something …?
No space for better coaching results?
Perhaps you find this story absurd. Who in their right mind, you wonder, wouldn’t check the basic conditions – such as the room layout – before making such a big decision?
Well, let me tell you: Things like these happen every day in corporate offices and conference rooms. Managers plan to give someone on their team some high-quality coaching – but forget to create an appropriate setting.
This isn’t only annoying, it’s counterproductive. Not only do you waste valuable time that way – the outcome will be disappointing, too. Your team member will feel misunderstood and not really supported at all – and you may be under the impression that this person is either unwilling or unable to accept your help.
To achieve good coaching results, try to observe the following four key conditions:
Condition #1: Let your coachee be the expert.
As a manager using coaching tools, you need to avoid acting like a know-it-all. Also, you don't provide ready solutions – instead, you encourage your people to develop their own. Give them the confidence that they'll be able to do it – only then will they be able to take another development step.
Be an active and empathetic listener. Which also means: take your time! This is nothing you can do on the fly. When your thoughts are somewhere else, you won’t use even a single coaching tool productively. In other words, your coaching success depends on your willingness to really sit down, take those ten minutes and listen closely.
Condition #3: Build rapport.
To create an atmosphere of trust, you need to make sure you have good rapport with the other person. The more you want people to trust you and open themselves to you, the more rapport you’ll need. Being approachable and interested helps build that kind of rapport.
Once you’ve established rapport, it will show in all kinds of small body signals. Perhaps you've heard about the water class test? When someone reaches for their glass the moment you do, it’s a signal that the two of you have begun to build rapport. When that happens, you’re on the right track.
Condition #4: Ask enough questions.
Keep asking questions to make sure you understand what the other person is referring to. Too often, we only think we've understood, when we actually use implicit assumptions we've never taken the time to question. So, asking the occasional extra question helps maximize positive impact. Also, make sure you phrase your questions in an appreciative way and support the other person in finding a good solution.
With a little practice, these four conditions are not that difficult to establish. When you observe them, you create the setting for an effective use of coaching tools. It will pay off – for you and your company.