When an employee is struggling, do you offer tips and advice? What about when you assign a team member a new project? Do you just hand it to him and let him figure out the instructions on his own? Coaching your employees is a fine art, and if you do so incorrectly you’ll be left with a rather ugly mess in your lap at the end of the day.
Today I offer three quick tips for effective leadership and coaching of your employees:
1. Ask lots of questions. Asking questions allows you to judge the skill levels of your employees but should be done tactfully so as not to embarrass someone who doesn’t know an answer. Ask open ended questions as opposed to yes or no questions. Yes or no questions almost always lead to disaster, as no one wants to answer “no” and risk sounding silly.
2. Are you offering constructive criticism? Stop before you criticize. Are you going to formulate a critique based on the fact that your employee is doing something incorrectly, or is it simply not the way you would accomplish the task? Even if your employee is doing something wrong you can’t just dive in and rip a project apart. You need to formulate a plan for constructively pointing out his errors while offering tips for correction or a more effective strategy. In short, no yelling, grumbling, or making people feel bad.
3. Remember that everyone is different. It has been scientifically proven that there are a number of different learning styles. Some people need to hear instructions, while others are better reading them. Others may need to experience a task first-hand in order to remember how to accomplish it. Keep in mind that you can’t use the same coaching strategy for each employee. You’re going to have to get to know each of your team members individually in order to determine which method of coaching will work best.
Keeping these things in mind as you coach will enable you to make a better connection with your employees. When you are able to connect with them, you’ll find that jobs will get done faster and with fewer errors.
Originally published: 2 September, 2008
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