For leaders who are focused on bouncing back in 2021, coaching team members more effectively will be the key to success. Coaching creates more productive teams, improves motivation, and reduces turnover. However, for many businesses, the workplace has changed rapidly in the past year. With many teams working remotely and others working around social distancing guidelines, creating a cohesive workplace culture is challenging. Leaders with a coaching mindset are needed now more than ever to bring teams together around a common goal and help them succeed in the new normal. So, how can we, as leaders, be better coaches?
Provide support to team members with regular check-ins. We all feel more isolated than normal. Establishing meaningful connections is essential to keeping teams engaged and productive. Creating a regularly scheduled time to connect by phone or video-chat is a great way to make sure team-members have everything they need to succeed. Employees may feel less informed without the casual interactions that once took place in the office, so it is important to make time for conversations on a regular basis. Be sure to connect with team members in an authentic way, including asking how they are “really” doing and if there is anything they need.
Get better at giving and receiving feedback. Now is the time to simplify performance management. Instead of complex rating systems and lengthy questionnaires, ask employees what you actually need to know— what helps them succeed at their job and what gets in their way. Make it a two-way conversation that focuses on facts and fixes rather than feelings and complaints. Remember to choose your words carefully and balance negative and positive feedback. Be sure to listen actively to what your team members have to say about their challenges and work together to find solutions. Give them a chance to offer you feedback as well. Sometimes as a leader, it is hard to hear you aren’t meeting a team member’s expectations, but it is important to listen to that perspective. Remember, these conversations are a chance for you to build relationships, solve problems, and grow professionally.
Take an agile approach to goal-setting. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that every organization must be ready to pivot when the unexpected happens. In uncertain times, taking an agile approach to setting goals for the year can help your team accomplish more, even if plans change along the way. The highest priority goal should serve the greater purpose of all stakeholders, not just the individual goals of the CEO or shareholders. Team and personal goals should support that higher purpose goal. Be open to changing course throughout the year, as it is more important to be in line with reality than to keep working towards a goal that is no longer a priority. Have frequent check-ins on goals to track progress and change course proactively as needed. Pay more attention to results than documenting and monitoring activities.Most importantly, keep it simple. No individual should be working towards more than three to five objectives at any time. Prioritize the most important goals and help your team stay focused on achieving them.
Model personal and professional growth. Embrace life-long learning, and encourage it in others. Learning new skills, reading a new book, or picking up a new hobby can give you a whole new perspective on life’s challenges. Look for opportunities to develop new skills in yourself and your team. In the words of Crestcom faculty member and best-selling author Steve Farber says, “Truly great leaders in life become so because they cause others to be greater than themselves.” Great coaches help their people become more capable, more confident and accomplish more than they thought was possible.