Giving feedback is not coaching
There’s a general assumption that any interaction with your team in relation to their work is coaching. A successful client call followed up with praise? Coaching. Giving someone direction or “advice” on a project? Coaching. Changing an employee’s unfavorable behavior to be a better fit for the organization? Coaching.
While all of the above is necessary as part of managing and leading people, it’s not actually coaching – it’s feedback. If leaders truly want to lead and transform their teams, coaching is an indispensable tool. A recent Forbes article drives home the purpose of coaching and explains it like this:
Coaching focuses on helping another person learn in ways that let him or her keep growing afterward. It is based on asking rather than telling, on provoking thought rather than giving directions and on holding a person accountable for his or her goals.
If you’re ready to transform your team, let’s talk about why coaching is key:
1. Coaching focuses on growth and development.
Often feedback is linked directly to an individual’s performance. It offers quick hits of encouragement, advice or correction directly related to their performance of a job. Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on helping an individual grow. Period. However, we want to make sure that the growth of the individual supports the strategic direction of the organization. There is a direct relation between individual development and business results. Coaching looks at long-term development of people that inevitably results in long-term business results.
2. Coaching is based on asking rather than telling.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of people telling me what to do. Feedback often focuses on telling people what to do more of or less of. Coaching focuses on asking questions – lots of them. Not for YOUR sake – but for the sake of the individual you’re coaching. The art of asking a question and pausing to wait for a response is a craft that takes time to be mastered. This craft is well worth the energy because it’s in the pause that your team member will be able to think, reflect and respond. That’s where the magic happens.
3. Coaching holds a person accountable for his or her goals.
The coach works together with the employee to set meaningful goals that align their success with business results. Part of creating the goals is identifying the specific behaviors for meeting those goals. The role of the coach is not just to encourage, but to check in regularly with a rhythm of accountability to make sure the employee stays on track. We talk a lot about rhythm of accountability here at inVision and it truly is the biggest success tool in goal execution. It’s this regular check in that differentiates coaching from feedback. Feedback is usually “in the moment” and happens in no regular rhythm.
4. Coaching is based on trust.
Trust is the foundational work of an effective coaching relationship. The individual being coached must trust that your intentions in the coaching process are focused on their development, and that your gain from this relationship is first and foremost their achievement of their goals. This takes a lot of thought and self-awareness on the part of the leader. Building a trusting relationship takes time, effort and genuine interest.
Surrounding yourself with growing, passionate employees is the quickest way to get sustainable business results. Coaching employees to recognize their own opportunities and drive towards their own goals is a rewarding process as a leader.
The greatness of a leader is measured by the achievements of the led. This is the ultimate test of his effectiveness.
Gen. Omar Bradley