This won’t turn you into a coach overnight, but hopefully it will make you a better leader and manager while at the same time help to reduce your employees dependence on YOUR TIME!
Active Coaching should be a daily, informal act, not just occasionally, formal “It’s Coaching Time!” event. The essence of Active Coaching lies in helping others and unlocking THEIR potential.
Deciding to take more of an Active Coaching roll is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s hard to change your behavior and it takes courage to try something new and it takes resilience to keep going again and again when it doesn’t work the first time. (Which it won’t.) So, try the following three questions when you start Active Coaching.
You will be surprised at how powerful these questions will be.
- What’s On Your Mind?
- And What Else?
- What is the Real Challenge Here for You?
These three questions are a powerful script for your Active Coaching session.
Why Active Coaching? There are already tons of demands on your time as a busy Auto Repair Shop Owner. Typically, when someone comes to us it’s either because they truly don’t have the answer, they are unfortunately too lazy to come up with the answer on their own, or they don’t trust that they will come up with the right answer that will satisfy you.
The main reason for this is because YOU have allowed it! What if you Actively Coached your staff to work through the problem and they come up with an answer that they probably already knew. Then, allow them to be confident in their results knowing that they didn’t have to come to the BOSS to make the final decision. Let your employees know it’s ok to be free thinking. Once you fully embrace this method of leadership you will find that things start happening around you without you having to be “in the middle” of everything. Freeing up more of your time to work ON your business and not IN it!
- Start somewhere easy. Choose someone that might be up for coaching, or pick a staff member with whom it’s going to go sideways with and at which point you’ve got nothing to lose.
- Start small. Try one or two of the questions I am going to give you, master those and then move on.
- Don’t give up! Things are going to go wrong. You ARE going to fail miserably, don’t let that stop you! Get back up. It’s through regular practice, failure, and feedback that you will move towards perfection.
- Resist the Urge to Provide the Answer. Typically because of the time constraints on you, you will find yourself jumping to the answer, conclusion, or advice before they even finish their statement. In order to have a High Performance Work Team, you must force yourself to listen until the end of the question and go into Coaching Mode. Sure it’s easy to give them the answer/advice, but it’s much better for them and you in the long term to let them work through the issue and help them find the answer.
Don’t get trapped into small talk. Forget about asking about the weather, kids etc…Move to a powerful opening question. What’s On Your Mind?
Before we go further into this, let’s talk about Active Listening. One of the most helpful statements that has ever been shared with me is “Make sure that what is said is what is heard.” Make sure that you are in a place where you can give your participant all of your attention, and make sure that you are not distracted. The worst thing you can do is to be in an Active Coaching session with an employee and be seen as not paying attention. Once you’ve “heard’ them, then use this statement to clear up any ambiguity: What I heard you say is……… and repeat it back to them. This will clear up any misunderstandings that you may have or may have interpreted.
The reason why we ask the first question, What’s On Your Mind, is because it’s open and it invites the coachee to get to the heart of the matter and share what’s important to them. At this point you are not telling them or guiding them. You’re letting them make choices for themselves.
At the same time this question is focused. It’s not an invitation to tell you everything. It gets them right to what’s keeping them up at night and what makes their heart beat faster. It’s a question that lets them talk about the thing that matters most to them, at that time.
After you think they’ve exhausted all of that ask them the second question, And What Else? You can also switch it up into a finishing question, Is There Anything Else? At some point you need to be able to recognize success, at that point you will hear: There IS Nothing Else? Once they’ve said that, you need to recognize it, take a bow and move on. And What Else works so well because it keeps your employees generating options and keeps you from commenting. Until they’ve said There is Nothing Else you’re not done listening! Until you’re done listening you aren’t allowed to give your opinion.
When people start talking to you about a challenge that they are having, it usually isn’t THE problem. When you start jumping in to fix things that is when you end up on the road to Abilene one of three different ways: YOU work on the wrong problem, YOU do the work that the individual should be doing, or the work doesn’t get done.
When you don’t rush in and fix the problem, this is the third question you should ask to slow things down: What Is the Real Challenge Here for You? By asking this you are cutting through the fog and getting to the specific issue for THEM.
Finally, always remember to ask questions that start with What? And not Why? “Why” questions tend to put them on the defensive, especially if you’ve used the wrong tone. “What” questions will put the coachee at ease and let’s them know that you are trying to help them solve the problem. When you ask “WHY” it’s because you want more detail, and you want more detail because you want to fix the problem. That just puts you back in the circle of dependence. It’s time to step outside that circle and get back to working ON your business and not in IT!