Leadership 101

Being a Proactive Coach for Your Business Team

Most people have two lives: a professional life and a personal one. However, as much as we may try to prevent it, it’s impossible to keep these lives from blurring into each other. Each of us carries a bit of our personal life into our business hours, just as we carry a bit of our work ethic into our lives at home.

To be an effective leader, it’s not enough to have good managerial skills. Rather, you also have to know how to reach each individual at a personal level. By relating to people as human beings and not just employees, you can identify their abilities and find out what makes them tick — and this in turn can help you foster and harness their creativity and professional passion. Using one-to-one people skills enables you to optimize — and better manage — the influence you have on them.

According to the 2018 Global Leadership Forecast, companies with a formal mentoring culture have a 20 percent lower turnover; yet all too often, leadership seminars stress management skills at the expense of mentorship. You can’t be a good coach without being a mentor; and you can’t be a good mentor without knowing how to communicate successfully on a personal level. And for any business mentor, the key to effective, interpersonal communication is empathy.


Using Empathy as a Tool in Constructive Criticism

In a recent study on workplace satisfaction, 700 employees were asked to name the top contributing factors that cause a bad day at work. Nearly half — 40 percent — said that the No. 1 factor was lack of support and help from their boss. Likewise, 37 percent cited lack of praise and recognition for job performance.

The terms “personal” and “professional” aren’t mutually exclusive. By fostering strong interpersonal professional relationships, you can engender an atmosphere of trust and empathy that will make your employees more receptive to your management.


Managing vs Coaching: Constructive Feedback

Far too often, managers make the mistake of being overwhelmingly directive in their approach, rather than recognizing the value of listening to their employees and engaging on a personal level with them.

According to the 2018 Global Leadership Forecast, companies that have a common, unified purpose within their workforce outperform other companies by 42 percent. The best way that you can foster this unified purpose is to create a team-management approach that relies upon personal communication and individual employee engagement.

By listening to your team, asking questions and recognizing that management can be a two-way street, you’ll win a receptive audience when it’s time to share constructive feedback.


Coaching as a Motivational Tool

Employee motivation involves a lot more than handing out an employee-of-the-month certificate or serving pizza during staff meetings. Likewise, effective motivation entails more than an annual salary increase or an in-house promotion.

The best way that you can boost team motivation is by offering your employees a continuous stream of positive input, feedback and advice, bound together with a unified purpose so that your team will feel like they’re working with you toward the same goal. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to add all those extra bonuses and rewards perks as well (including that free pizza).

In reality, successful coaching is a work in progress, an ongoing building of a developmental alliance between management and staff. As a leadership coach, you can cultivate this motivation through positivity, empathy, appreciation and engagement.

When team members feel that they have a stake in their company’s success — even if it’s just a feeling of being valued or acknowledged for a job well done — they’ll have the type of strong, day-to-day motivation that leads to high performance and employee retention.

By taking a proactive approach to coaching and recognizing that the best managers are also good mentors, you can use your coaching skills to help your employees develop into the best that they can be. And by doing so, you’ll be able to develop a team that’s willing to work with you in a combined effort for success.


Putting It Into Action

So, how can you begin proactive coaching? Start by taking the steps below:

  • Block 20 minutes, three times a week, on your calendar to walk around the office and socialize with your team. Ask them questions about something other than work to get to know the people that you work with beyond just the work they do every day.
  • If you personally don’t have a mentor, find one. You can’t help mentor others if you have not learned firsthand the benefit of having one for yourself.