In the past, typically whenever I hear the word “coaching,” my mind pulls up a list of great coaches that led their teams to championships. Many athletes will tell you that they would not have accomplished so many great things without their coach. Their coach is there to support them in their everyday routines to help them be the best version of themselves.
This led me to consider this thought…how great could an employee be if their leader acted as a coach to support them in their everyday routine. Organizations would be full of amazing, accomplished professionals!
Professional development in many organizations is left up to the individual employee to come up with and then decide how they will execute their goals. While this is important, of even greater importance is having a leader coach them through everyday interactions and occurrences to assist them in reaching their goals.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Professional development is generally characterized as additional training and education to develop and acquire new skills for the purpose of career advancement.
When you pair coaching with professional development, you come up with a winning formula!
Effective leaders recognize that they play the biggest role in supporting their employees and helping them reach their full professional potential. When coaching is incorporated into leaders’ everyday routines and interactions, it becomes a habit that they will execute naturally.
Do you currently have one-on-one meetings with your employees? This is the most effective way to help each direct report advance their professional development. One on ones allow workers personal time devoted to discussing goals and career paths with you, as their leader.
Here are some coaching questions you can ask your employees:
- What are your professional goals?
- What skills would you like to develop more?
- What do you see yourself doing in five years at the company?
- How can I support you in making these goals a reality?
Having these coaching conversations with your employees builds strong relationships. When your team trusts you and truly believes that you have their best interest at heart, they will do all they can to support you as a leader and the team.
Team meetings are also a great environment in which to incorporate coaching. Having the whole team present their progress is important to helping everyone grow, learn and provide effective feedback.
Here are a few coaching questions that can be used in team meetings when discussing team goals and projects:
- What did we do well?
- What can we improve upon for next time?
- What roadblocks can I remove for you?
- How can I support the team?
Now, you may be thinking that these are great questions, but “I’m not a coach,” or “Some of my employees are not coachable,” or “My company doesn’t have a coaching culture.” This is where you, as a leader, need to examine your current mindset. This may require a mindset shift in your leadership style, but when leaders set the example, employees follow. Preparation and forethought may be needed at first, but the result will be highly beneficial. If your weekly one-on-one meetings follow the same agenda of covering work challenges, ask your direct report to come to the meeting with an agenda around their goals. Devote one meeting a month to professional development discussions.
Honest and open communication will help each employee identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Get comfortable giving positive and critical feedback in everyday conversations. Learn what motivates each of your employees, this will allow you to better support them in their professional development.
There are many benefits and advantages to incorporating coaching into leaders’ everyday routines to help foster professional development. Doing so will help you:
- Build strong leaders.
- Build a higher adaptability to change within the organization.
- Increase team support.
- Establish stronger relationships.
- Retain key leaders.
- With succession planning.
- Develop happy, productive and engaged employees.
When employees see their leaders incorporate coaching into their everyday routine to support their professional development, they truly know their leaders care about them and their future. When they feel supported, they will support their leader and the organization and everyone wins.
Not only will you be a memorable leader (coach), but you will have the opportunity to help someone grow professionally and achieve their goals … which is priceless. After all, as Maya Angelou once famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”