Put some time into skills development. If you need to learn to create dialogue instead of giving orders, develop a list of go-to questions you could use. There are plenty of ways to find good coaching questions, including some listed in the resources section above. One hint: Avoid the word “why”; it shuts people down. Use “how” or “what” instead.
If you’re a talker, use the WAIT system: Why Am I Talking. It’s a chatty coach’s best friend and can help you remember to let your team members work things out for themselves.
Model your behavior on someone you admire, or get a mentor or coach for yourself. Watching someone else in action is a great way to learn these skills.
Being able to let others learn the hard way through trial and error can be very challenging. If this is tough for you, ask for support from your boss, especially in learning to assess risks realistically. There’s a big difference between a $500 risk and a $50,000 risk, and misjudging won’t serve you or your team member well.
Track your progress, and celebrate your successes. Give yourself feedback, and request it from your team. Find some small team or personal rewards to help build momentum.
Building your coaching skills will benefit you, your team, and your company as a whole.
Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience.
©2013 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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