What does supporting performance involve a leader doing? What options does the leader have for the way they invest their time? How does the leader add value? What are typical coaching goals? What resource material does the leader need as a platform for the coaching? What tools does the leader need from the Coaches Toolkit? I start with an overview of supporting for performance. I then draw on the experience of two senior leaders I have worked with and observed in action.
This Post is written for Leaders of Others who have a team of Individual Contributors reporting to them. Consider a coaching strategy for coaching for supporting performance that has a series of short (say 30-45 minute) pre-planned one-to-one sessions with individual direct reports. This is just a suggestion. Your exact coaching process will depend on your team circumstances and stage of the individual’s development. Take a view with your manager/coach. Sessions can be incorporated into your pre-planned one-to-ones with your direct reports. Here’s a great quote about coaching from the Harvard Business Review: “Good coaching is simply good management. It requires many of the same skills that are critical to effective management, such as keen powers of observation, sensible judgment, and an ability to take appropriate action. Similarly, the goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources”.
Suggested goals for the leader when coaching for supporting performance include:
- Ensure the coaching process is based on aligned and SMART goals.
- Identify priorities for performance coaching.
- Ensure coaching interventions are timely and optimise business improvement.
- Complete just-in-time feedback to support the performance improvement process.
- Create measurable and sustained performance to meet business goals.
- Support direct reports in meeting their ambitious personal goals.
See ‘GROW – Goal’, ‘GROW – Reality’, ‘GROW – Options’ & ‘GROW – Way Forward’ in the Techniques section of the Coaches Toolkit.
The four areas of focus or subjects of your coaching when you are supporting performance with your direct reports are:
- Clarifying Performance
Start by ensuring you have a clear idea of the overall business goals in your part of the business. This means understanding what you need to achieve in the current business period (your goals), what your boss needs to achieve and maybe even their boss too. In each case do the goals pass the SMART test? Do the goals of your direct reports also pass the SMART test? Then seek out current performance data and development needs from a range of sources (including from your direct report). Where they are in relation to their business goals, what are the barriers and what are the opportunities? This will provide your priorities for coaching them for performance.
Platforms: your goals, your direct report’s goals, performance data and reports.
Tools: from the Coaches Toolkit include SMART Goals.
- Creating Opportunities
This means actively seeking opportunities to initiate coaching discussions and to give feedback. You will have set up a series of coaching sessions or a coaching journey. There will be intermediate opportunities for ad-hoc short (say 5 minute) laser coaching sessions. There will also be opportunities to give immediate on the spot and helpful feedback according to the AIDA model.
Platforms: Calendar of pre-planned coaching sessions.
Tools: from the Coaches Toolkit include Laser Coaching and AIDA Guidelines for Feedback
- Completing Structured Coaching
This means agreeing goals, exploring the current reality, reviewing options and confirming the way forward (GROW). It also means as the leader / coach you stay focused and remain self-disciplined. Stick to the appointed coaching sessions. Avoid distractions interfering with timely completion of the coaching sessions. Insist that your direct report prepare for each session and complete preparation yourself. Evaluate results and assesses progress; reprioritises as required. Remain purposeful and flexible. Keep the coaching process on track.
Platforms: performance data and reports, coaching preparation, ‘way-forward’ notes from previous coaching sessions.
Tools: from the Coaches Toolkit include all ‘GROW’ Techniques, all Tools and Log Book.
- Providing Support
This means making your personal time available for your direct report. Identify with them any resources they may require. Provide them with appropriate guidance, support and inspiration. Select any training required. Act as a positive models. Give on-going feedback. Work methodically towards, and derive personal satisfaction from, your direct report achieving their stretch goals. You are reaping the rewards of your coaching. There is a correlation between the effort you put in and the improvements in business results.
Platforms: organisational training resources, personal development plans.
Tools: from the Coaches Toolkit include Situational Coaching and Log Book.
MAKING IT REAL
In my June Post ‘Executive Presence’ I explained how I spent an enjoyable five year period in my recent career as an independent executive assessor working with one of the world’s leading firms in this area. In 2004 one of my candidates was Paul. He was a particularly strong operational manager working in a heavy industry. I notice from his current LinkedIn profile he now holds a senior role in his company. Here is how I summarised in my report the way Paul approached his approach to supporting performance:
Operational management (Strength). “You are effective in the ‘here-and-now’ domain. You take firm action to resolve the challenges presented to you. You are good at sizing up issues by questioning the people concerned, listening carefully and probing to confirm your understanding”.
Coaching (Strength). “You are strong at seeking information and opinions about performance. You use good questioning techniques to surface issues. You offer personal guidance and support in a coaching context. You are open about your agenda, offer your own ideas and advice but do not always seek ideas from others”.
I have been working with Keith since 2010. Here is how he recently described coaching for performance:
“The entire concept of coaching can be boiled down to its simplest form which is performance improvement. Essentially when done well, it is about providing the honest feedback and tools to boost performance. It unlocks the capability to deliver results i.e. the HOW. We help people to have a strategy for producing the intended goal (HOW roughly are you going to do it). It provides a process capable of producing the intended goal (WHAT specific steps must be taken to get there) and the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to create the actions and performance that will deliver the goal intended”.
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