Coaching strategies for long-term results

Michael Boyd

The best way to get positive results from a team in any organization is to create an environment that encourages each team member to give their best. Successful managers/supervisors spend hours learning about their team members as individuals. They know their strengths and weaknesses as well as their hopes and dreams. This knowledge enables the coach, manager, supervisor to place each person in a position to succeed. In a coaching relationship, managers rely less on their authority and more on the authenticity they have built with trust and integrity.

The result is more sales, greater productivity, higher morale, and in general a more positive work environment. There are several fundamental keys to creating this kind of environment in a workplace.

Create clear goals and benchmarks. Enlightened managers/coaches encourage their team to brainstorm ways to meet the organizational goals. They draw from individual strengths and ask for the team’s commitment. They allow the team members to influence the language of the goals and they support them with upper management. Once the larger goals are identified, coaches develop a timeline that includes benchmarks to gauge success.

Celebrate successes and give feedback. Share the good news about achieving goals. Meeting big goals should be celebrated formally and out loud, in a manner consistent with organizational policies. Posting spreadsheets on the bulletin board is not a celebration. Balanced feedback should also include the areas where goals are unmet. This is where the great coaches thrive. If a foundation of open communication and trust has been laid, team members can usually accept bad news and provide solutions to problems. Coaching can elicit those solutions.

Manage conflict. Every team has occasional conflict, from tardiness to bullying and worse. Small conflicts are easier to manage the big ones however, when ignored small conflicts rarely go away. They usually become larger. Immediate action as well as consistency are the keys. In order to build trust policies must be clear, communicated and uniformly enforced. Effective coaches are always on the lookout for signs of conflict and are willing to take action.

Provide tools and resources. The growth and development of team members requires investment of time and money. Once managers have identified areas for growth in their team, they must provide the training and or resources that will enable each team member to realize their individual potential. This includes equipment, outside training, specialized software or other developmental opportunities that help the team meet the organizational goals.

Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys football team, once said:

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Courage, clear communication, transparency, and trust are the keys to getting business results in today’s workplace environment. Using the force of authority sometimes works in the short term. Coaching the team to reach their potential builds winners in the long game.

Michael Boyd is the workforce development and business program manager at Hagerstown Community College. His email is mdboyd@hagerstowncc.edu.