How to Prepare for a Coaching Session
1. Decide which areas you need to focus on. Narrow down your focus to a maximum of one to two topics per coaching session. If you try to fit in too many developmental areas, not only will both you and the employee be overwhelmed, but the message will get lost. Focusing on one or two areas will give everyone an opportunity to focus on the task at hand.
2. Determine the desired outcomes ahead of time. While it may be tempting to plan for an open-ended meeting, it’s best to have some idea of where you’re going ahead of time. Is it an improvement in performance, increased productivity or preparing them for a new task or possible promotion? You need to not only understand what the desired outcomes are, but also what is at stake if the goal is not achieved. Setting expectations is a critical step.
3. Are there any potential roadblocks? Examine any potential problems either you or the employee may have. Is there any training necessary for them to be successful? If this is an argumentative employee, do you have answers to any potential questions they may raise? Most managers know enough about their staff to be able to determine reactions, whether positive or negative.
4. Determine the number, length and frequency of the meetings. If it is a short topic, chances are it can be covered in one session. Don’t feel it necessary to cram everything into one meeting; break the discussion into a series. The first meeting can be an initial planning session. The planning session can set the stage for discussion topics and the frequency of the meetings. The second meeting is where you get down into the meat of the topic; including establishing an action plan. The final meeting can take place after all determined actions have been completed. The review session will discuss whether the plan was effective.
5. Keep the coaching session work-related. If the problem is not work related, you may need to refer them elsewhere. Coaching an employee through a divorce or personal problem may cause you bigger problems in the future. It’s important to remember that you are their manager and not a psychologist.
Coaching employees takes skill. Remember that coaching is not a means to correct behavior, that would fall under the realm of counseling. Coaching is often a two-way street. You need to be open to the fact that you may learn something as well.
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