Coaching – Quick Tips to help HR Business Partners and People Managers

Find out more about coaching tips to help HR business partners and people managers. Guest written by Simon Brown.

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Coaching and Mentoring are often referred to together as one method for personal development support. There are some similarities between the two, but also some differences.

For more on mentoring, take a look at my earlier article on what mentoring is and why you should embrace mentoring here.

In this article let’s focus on Performance Coaching.

Coaching is so important because it helps build trust and shows your interest and concern for people as well as your organisation. Done well, coaching can also enhance potential – a good coach recognises people’s abilities and focuses on developing their skills. Coaching is the process of giving on-going guidance and feedback to a learner to bring about an enhancement and improvement in key areas of work performance. Coaching is about helping, not controlling, and is broader and more flexible in style of delivery than traditional training.

As a coach you can help learners to:

• Assess their current performance
• Set and agree goals
• Plan their development
• Put their development plan into action

In today’s world an effective coach works on the philosophy that people learn best by experiencing things for themselves (learn by doing) , and the coach helps the learner to discover facts, and guides the learner to the point where they discover and realise the learning point for themselves. In addition, a good coach will enable learners to take ownership of their learning, giving them a greater interest in what they have achieved. And by first understanding the true needs of the individual (“seek first to understand”) the coach can offer the best coaching support.

Situational Performance Coaching

There are three main types of coaching:

• Coaching for Improvement,
• Coaching for Success, and
• Reinforcing Effective Performance.

The first one , Coaching for Improvement, focuses on a specific skill or behavioural area that has been identified by both the learner and the coach. The second, Coaching for Success, helps the learner to anchor on a positive vision for a successful outcome (for example before a big event has started). And the third method, Reinforcing Effective Performance, is often less practiced, and yet is so powerful to retain and motivate and further enhance the self-esteem of good performers.

Everyone needs positive and constructive feedback, and good performers need to know that you or others notice. In fact, your recognition or reinforcement (or lack of it) ultimately can have a great influence on whether they continue to be motivated to achieve stretch objectives. So, as a coach reinforce not only WHAT was done by the individual, but also HOW it was done. Be specific with examples of what and how it was good (not just “Good job!”) and be sincere in your praise.

Effective Work based Coaching Involves:

• Establishing a safe atmosphere -learners must feel comfortable to take risks and make mistakes, as this is part of the learning process
• Motivating the learner
• Building rapport -develop a clear picture of what the learner is like , their feelings, wants, motivation, and attitudes
• Adapting your approach in line with the personality, priorities, and approach of the individual
• Identifying individual skills levels – the performance challenge, their strengths and weakness (areas for development), any specific needs for the individual.
• Setting overall objectives – explaining the overall aim and agreeing goals
• Setting standards- explain how you will measure success
• Planning and scheduling a coaching approach – set challenging but manageable targets
• Monitoring and assessing progress and performance
• Giving specific and constructive feedback on performance
• Providing on-going support by helping the learner to apply their learning to deliver outcomes that impact on the relevant business measures

There are 4 Key Principles for effective coaching (source DDI - Maximising Performance Though Coaching). Always:

1. Maintain or enhance the self-esteem of the individual you are coaching.
2. Listen to them and respond with empathy (not sympathy) to their points of view.
3. Ask them for help and encourage their involvement in the organisational task to be undertaken.
4. Share your thoughts, feelings and rational with them (so that they have the context/big picture in which to act).

A well- known structure for a coaching discussion is for the Coach to use the G-R-O-W model, a questioning technique to ask the person being coached to think about and answer these questions:

G= What are your goals?
R= What is the current reality? Where are you now against where you want to be.
O= What options are open to you to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?
W= What will you do? What is your plan and what steps will you take?

Finally, it is important to remember that the overall aim of coaching is: “To provide support without removing responsibility for action.” And from the example above, the G-R-O-W model, it is clear that the coach provides a structure and asks questions but the person being coached owns the responsibility for the actions.

Guest written by PushFar Advisory Board Member, Simon Brown. Simon Brown works with people and organisations in the areas of talent management, employee engagement and change management. He is an advisor, coach and mentor and is now also currently a volunteer mentor for 3 mentees at PushFar.
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