Coaching

Coaching is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like coaching can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like coaching through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Coaching

Definition of Coaching: Provides guidance to help others achieve their goals.

The greatest leaders are also the most amazing mentors. Coaching is often a neglected aspect of leading because people often don’t see the immediate impact to the bottom line. Coaching is difficult because it takes time, patience, and most importantly, personal investment. When done successfully, coaching increases team morale, retention, and development.

Great Coaches You May Know

Cokie Roberts: As a pioneering female voice in public broadcasting, Roberts paved the way for an entire generation of women journalists and reporters to enter a male dominated industry. Throughout her career, Roberts shared her knowledge and experience with thousands of young women, inspiring them to seize opportunities, make connections to grow in their careers, and ultimately, do good for their community. To recognize her lifetime dedication to public broadcasting and journalism, Roberts was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2000.

Meg Wheatley: Over five decades, Wheatley has actively coached executives and professionals across the world. Her philosophy of creating organizations based on supportive relationships and order rather than control has empowered teams to share ideas freely and effectively. This openness increases the knowledge, effectiveness, and collaboration of teams across the organization.

Eddy Robinson: During his 55-year tenure as the football coach at Grambling State University, Robinson was most known not for his knowledge of football or the teaching of skills, but for the way he loved and supported his players. He said, “Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” Since 1957, the Eddy Robinson Coach of the Year Award has been given to the top coach in college football each year.

Why Coaching Is Important

  • Trust: Every professional wants to feel like they are progressing in their skills and career. When team members are adequately coached and supported, they trust in their organization and their team, thus becoming more satisfied with their work.
  • Lifelong Learning: The best way to develop your skills and understanding is to teach. Coaches not only help those they are coaching, but continue to reinforce their own skills and abilities.
  • Awareness: A great leader doesn’t just share knowledge, they also point out flaws or ineffective practices that a team member may not have been aware of. If your team isn’t aware of an issue, they can’t fix it.

What Coaching Isn’t About

  • Showing off: Coaching is not about being perceived as an expert or gain attention. This is an opportunity for you to share your experiences and knowledge, not show off.
  • Putting Down: Great coaches never make others feel incompetant or ashamed. Pointing out something that needs improvement is important, but should be done with empathy and support.
  • Telling Instead of Showing: Telling someone what to do without actively doing it yourself, by definition, is hypocritical. Leading by example is crucial to building trust and reinforcing your teaching.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Coaching

Asking probing questions: Probing questions can be used to clarify something that has already been said or to find out more details. Many of them are helpful in creating rapport, but you must take care not to overuse them as this can make the coachee feel as if they are being interrogated or even attacked.

Asking the right questions: Empower your coachee to come up with meaningful solutions by asking open-ended questions that begin with ”how” or ”what.” For instance, ”What would you have done differently?” and ”How can I support you?”

Cheerleading progress: Everyone wants to feel good about the progress they’ve made. A coach needs to make sure they are the coachees biggest fan and cheer on each step forward they make towards their goal.

Dedicating time for coaching: You can’t master anything without regular practice. Great coaches establish a coaching routine. Consider dedicating one day a week solely towards coaching. For instance, on Wednesdays schedule one-on-one coaching sessions with each of your peers in the afternoon and using the mornings to prepare.

Delivering actionable feedback: A key initiator of change is providing people with regular and actionable feedback. A coach must be able to provide examples of what the optimal outcome looks like. Also, work to describe specific times where the employee did or did not demonstrate the desired actions so the employee has one or more actionable points of reference.

Empathizing: Having an understanding approach and being able to empathize with the employee’s situation will breed trust in the relationship. A good coach has a high degree of emotional intelligence and an ability to put themselves in the shoes of their employee.

Listening more than talking: There are different levels of listening. The most commonly used is ”listening to respond”, where while we listen we’re thinking about our own ideas, whether we agree or disagree, or how we want to answer. This is not how great coaches listen. Instead, a great coach should aim for ”listening to understand”.

Providing accountability: One of the main reasons coaching relationships are successful is the level of accountability it provides. While the employee self identifies opportunities and sets goals, knowing that someone is going to be checking on their progress helps to drive momentum for change.

Setting realistic expectations: The majority of changes or improvements won’t happen overnight. A great coach needs to be realistic with their expectations and should help the employee set realistic improvement targets with well-defined progress check-ups along the way.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Coaching

Who can benefit from practicing coaching? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their coaching.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills

Explore Complementary Skills to Coaching

Coaching shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your coaching by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Candor: Communicates in a truthful and in a straightforward manner
  • Empathy: Possesses the ability to connect with other people’s thoughts and emotions
  • Inclusiveness: The ability to create an environment that values individual and group differences
  • Leadership: Leads, motivates, and inspires your team and/or company
  • Supportiveness: Listens and provides help for individual or team in an encouraging, sensitive manner

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