Coaching is about finding out the cause of poor performance or behaviour and discussing with the team member how to improve it.

The team member might respond immediately to coaching and improve the situation. However, the improvement will not always be permanent and you may have to do further coaching.

When I suggest this to some managers, they see it as some kind of touchy-feely, softly-softly approach. Let me assure you right now that it is not.

What it involves is telling the team member what part of his behaviour you are unhappy with, listening to what he has to say and agreeing on a way forward.

The goal is to effect a change in behaviour that the team member is committed to — which helps you achieve your outcomes.

Think of a time when someone — a teacher, parent or boss — coached, taught or encouraged you to get better at something.

When I ask this question at a seminar, I get responses such as, “I felt good/inspired/motivated/pleased/confident and wanted to do better”.

This is generally what you are aiming to achieve with your team members. The specific outcomes you want in coaching them are the following:

More productive behaviour
The first objective of coaching is to resolve poor behaviour. If the process is carried out properly, then that is what you will achieve, although there are other benefits such as higher productivity and morale.

The team member knows what is expected of him
Coaching allows you to make clear to your team members what is expected of them. Many managers fall into the trap of “assuming” that a team member knows what is expected. This is the cause of many examples of poor behaviour.

The team member didn’t know that “reports had to be submitted by the 15th of the month”, or that he “could give the customer his money back”, or that he “had to be on time for the meeting”. Coaching allows you to calmly and clearly make clear what you expect.

The team member is motivated to change
The only real motivation is internal motivation. Coaching allows you to create the environment where the team member makes the decision to change for himself. This means that he is more committed to the change and it is more likely to happen.

It is also easier on you because you do not have to “drive” the person to make the changes.

Fewer warning interviews
If you coach poor behaviour as and when it occurs, then you are likely to have far fewer interviews with your team members in which you have to warn them of the consequences of their actions. The manager who ignores poor behaviour lets the situ-ation build up and then finds himself in a “warning” situation.

They know you care
If you coach your team members in a positive way and help them become better, happier workers, your people will see you as supportive and understanding. They will know that you are not just “picking” on them and that you are looking for a win-win situation.

You build a happy and motivated team
That means better results, goals achieved and much less stress all around.