Coaching is fundamental to the new approach to performance management that is sweeping the business world. As Russ Becker, CEO of AchieveForum outlined in our recent POV on performance management, the best of this approach strives to improve performance – actually improve performance – by helping people think and do things differently, to achieve results that matter.
At its foundation, the new approach to performance management emphasizes shifts from; (1) evaluating what happened in the past to clarifying what to do next and (2) doing so on a daily if not weekly basis, rather than once a quarter or year (3) supporting manager and direct reports achievement of these tasks without the excessive drag of inflexible, administrative systems. It is not surprising then, that we discovered that Coaching is a top five leadership development priority for every level of leader, based on data from our AchieveForum 2015 global leadership development survey. Most companies are striving to strengthen coaching capabilities in first, mid–level and senior levels leaders.
Effective coaching skill development focuses on four areas. The first focal point involves helping managers diagnose the learning styles of team members to optimizing one’s work with them to optimize how one works with them to accelerate their ability to learn from experience. At AchieveForum, we term the second set of coaching capabilities: Thinking Partnership. This partnership takes shape with the use of questioning and active listening to help others clarify goals in relation to the current realities, outlining the challenges ahead in achieving an important result, and figuring out to how best overcome these challenges. The third coaching skill set, providing reinforcing feedback, builds motivational and behavioral momentum by highlighting what is working well and should be continued. Finally, development feedback, the forth coaching skill area, involves identifying and resolving performance gaps while winning the commitment of team members to closing these key gaps.
To further refine the coaching challenges that leaders face, we recently polled webinar participants about coaching priorities in their organizations. Coaching team members on how to follow through on commitments they make to each other is the highest-rated coaching skill priority. Our research showed that 52% of our respondents said closing accountability gaps between team members is a top coaching skill development need for leaders. So while high performance coaching means optimizing the performance of individual team members, our data tells us that, coaching may be more about getting team members to achieve more, together.