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Archive for February 2011

Quickly Coaching Using Positive Intent

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Last time I introduced a concept I call, Assuming Positive Intent.  As a leader this concept guides my moves.  As a new leader one thing I struggled with was holding my directs accountable for their behaviors and their performance and then coaching them.  I used to view accountability and coaching as negative things.  I was mistaken.  I have learned that accountability and coaching are a leaders best tools.  However, the two have to be viewed within the scope of Assuming Positive Intent.

I have learned that accountability and coaching are a leaders best tools

Accountability is easy when you assume that your directs mean well and that they are not going out of their way to sabotage you.  Coaching becomes even easier when you accept that as a fact.  When I came to this realization it became easier to hold my directs accountable and to coach them for their performance and behaviors.

First, set clear expectations with your directs.  When you set your expectations you have to leave no room for error or misinterpretation.  You cannot leave room for a direct to say, “I did not know” or “I did not know how”.  Every book I have ever read about leadership discusses setting clear expectations.  Amazon quickly brings up several books that will guide you in the process.  Your expectations have to be clear and firm.  This is crucial and is the difference between coaching being easy or difficult.

You cannot leave room for a direct to say, “I did not know” or “I did not know how”.

Next, when your expectations are not met you have to decide whether it is a skill or a will issue.  Does your direct have the proper training to meet your expectations?  Have you trained them to be successful and to meet your expectations?  The answer to those two questions will help you determine if it is a skill issue.  If you decide it is a skill issue then you need to focus on bringing your directs‘ skill up to par with your expectation.  This is your responsibility as a leader.  However, if you determine that it is not a skill issue, then you have to figure out what is the will issue.  Why did your direct choose to not meet your expectations?  What were their obstacles?  What caused them to not meet your expectation?  Remember, these questions and their answers are being examined while assuming positive intent.

Finally, hold your coaching situation without postponing the conversation.  It is important that you do not postpone the conversation.  Typically a leader will postpone a coaching conversation because they are afraid, intimidated, or unsure about holding the conversation.  However, if you have set clear expectations, have examined the issue under the scope of positive intent while deciding if it is a skill or will issue, then the coaching conversation is simple and easy.

Start with a question about your expectations.  “Sally, what happened at closing last night?”  Pause and wait for their reply.  Do not jump to a conclusion and do not interrupt your direct.  Listen to what they have to say and reserve judgment.  Once your direct concludes their explanation ask a follow up question for clarification.  Once you have an understanding about the situation from the perspective of your direct then you conclude the coaching conversation by reiterating your expectations…and that’s it!  Really, it’s that simple.  You have just had a coaching conversation with your direct.

Assuming positive intent makes coaching so much easier.  The process is quick and it removes the stress associated with the coaching conversations that we have as leaders with our directs.  When you choose to assume positive intent it makes coaching easier because you are not coaching someone because they are a bad person, you are coaching a person because you want to gain understanding about why they are not meeting your expectations.

Really, it’s that simple.  You have just had a coaching conversation with your direct.

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What kind of coaching conversations do you find difficult?

Do you think this technique would work with all people? Why or why not?

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If you’re wondering who The Head Coach Manager is and why he thinks he knows a thing or two about leadership, check out the Introduction.

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Written by theheadcoachmanager

February 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm