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Coaching – The Ultimate Way To Support Others

Written by: Dale Halm, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Coaching is often misunderstood as a tool for helping create organizational and personal excellence. This article explores how coaching can shift performance from mediocrity to excellence.

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Great coaching reveals your personal best


I am hesitant to refer to the word "coaching" as a practice of excellence, as it is often misinterpreted or carries a negative connotation. When I ask people in my training programs if they are open to being coached, the immediate reaction I get is, "Here it comes. He is going to tell me what I’m doing wrong." That's not coaching – that’s giving someone your opinion, regardless of the effect it might have on them.


Coaching in professional sports is seen as highly valuable. It can make all the difference between winning and losing. In relationships and the business world, the reaction to coaching is often, "Who do you think you are? You’re not an expert in my field! How can you coach me?"


The type of coaching I am referring to is the process of providing real-time input with the intention of bringing out the best in others. When coaching, we point out constructive as well as ineffective behaviors. Coaching is not an assault, nor is it being condescending. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It signals to others that you are acting on their behalf. Most people gloss right over that concept. When you realize the act of coaching is about caring, it can be seen in a new light.


Willingness to coach in-the-moment


Coaching is being active, responding to what is happening in the moment, rather than avoiding or failing to address things. When you are committed to an agenda for excellence, you set high expectations for yourself and others. If you are not coaching others or willing to accept coaching, then you are not really committed to excellence.


For years, I worked in the semiconductor and utility industries where safety is paramount. Enormous effort is put forth to create a culture of safety in these types of businesses. The best indicator of an outstanding safety culture is when people can have direct and honest conversations with each other. By specifying unsafe behaviors or reinforcing safety standards, serious accidents can be prevented. People must first, gather up the courage to address an issue (provide coaching), and secondly, they must be receptive and act on the input given (accept coaching). In this type of culture, people simply won't tolerate unsafe behavior. They demonstrate compassion and support of their co-workers by coaching one another to be safe.


Questions that lead to more effective coaching


To achieve organization excellence, we must do the same when it comes to how we work together. We must have the tenacity to speak up and coach others, as well as receive and act on feedback. Here are two questions you can reflect on to help you be a more effective coach.

  1. Am I coaching others in a truly supportive and constructive manner?

  2. When others are demonstrating ineffective behavior, do I take the initiative to provide the necessary coaching?


Coaching guidelines


Keeping the coaching process simple and on-track is vital. It is easy to make coaching more complex than needed or suddenly find yourself in a conversation that's misguided. To provide effective coaching follow these guidelines.

  1. Initiate the coaching process. In a sincere manner say, "I'd like to point something out, are you ok with that?" Most people are willing to listen when you ask them a question like this. In a culture of excellence, it lets others know you have an important concern to share.

  2. Avoid storytelling, be brief. Describe the specific behavior you witnessed. Express your thoughts about what could be negatively impacting the situation. Give first-hand information based on your observations, not hearsay.

  3. Do not overload the receiver. Provide coaching on one specific behavior. Use "I" statements ("I noticed that"). Avoid saying "you need to," as using the pronoun "you" can be interpreted as a personal attack.

  4. Maintain objectivity by avoiding blame or jumping to conclusions. Ask the person you are coaching to share their views about what happened. This allows you to work together to discover ways to improve the situation.

  5. Thank the person for being receptive to your coaching. This modest step sets the stage for a mature and healthy relationship where coaching is viewed as a routine way of supporting others.


People committed to excellence do not hesitate to coach one another. They do it because they hold others in high regard and see it as a form of continuous improvement. To step up and coach someone means taking responsibility for the success of the enterprise or relationship.


 

Dale Halm, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dale Halm is the Founder of Dale Halm Consulting, LLC. He has held leadership positions for a Fortune 500 company and has contributed significantly to record-setting start-up operations resulting in multi-million dollar cost savings. Dale's extensive experience includes various training and organization development roles at Intel, Freescale (NXP), and Arizona Public Service Company. He is the author of The Excellence Agenda and specializes in transforming workplaces and maximizing human potential. Dale has been a speaker at numerous conferences and holds both a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts from Northern Illinois University.

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