Coaching is a relationship consisting of a structured, process-driven interaction between a professional trained in coaching methodologies
and one or more individuals seeking positive behavioral change. Performance coaching specifically deals with facilitating learning and development to improve the performance of others involved in a specific role or responsibility. It can be applied to many different
disciplines (e.g., sports, acting, music) but it is especially applicable to performance in a business setting.
Unlike some other coaching disciplines, performance coaching is an activity that is usually (and best) performed through a
one-on-one, face-to-face interaction. Performance coaching
and leadership are very closely aligned. Leading involves
directing, inspiring and motivating others, all qualities that are most valuable in coaching the performance of others.At Symbiont Performance Group, we view performance coaching primarily
from the perspective of helping people achieve improved performance levels. Performance coaching is a developmental
discipline that centers on improving one's knowledge, skills and attitudes beyond those that are considered basic and foundational. See Training vs. Development. We reject coaching paradigms that suggest adapting performance coaching approaches to a subordinate's assumed
current skill level or perceptions of one's willingness to perform. While such issues are important, we see
them as being more complex, often involving elements such as employee motivation, job fit and an understanding basic
KSAs which generally extend beyond the domain of performance coaching and which we believe would best be addressed
within the context of performance management. See Performance Management. We believe that the practice of performance coaching should be focused primarily on improving peoples'
performance behaviors by applying established performance improvement techniques and should be administered independently
from other performance management approaches.
Performance coaching should be the responsibility of any manager who has direct
reports as it can be one of the most effective and profitable of management activities. In fact, in many organizations,
performance coaching is considered the prime responsibility— second only to driving results— of managers at al
llevels of an organization. It is no mere coincidence that often the best way to drive results is through people
development. In a world where the role of the manager has expanded as the number of managers per company has shrunk,
effective coaching skills help managers do more with less.
Why Performance Coaching?
While performance coaching is generally recognized
as an important function of managers, it is a responsibility for which new managers are often not adequately prepared.
In most cases individuals are promoted to the position of manager because they have done well in performing the tasks
and responsibilities of a particular job function. As managers, they are then charged with getting things done through
people—other people. This must be done through the effective application of one or more of the the
functions of management, namely planning, organizing, directing, motivating or controlling. In many situations, those doing the promoting assume that a new manager will automatically (magically) be able to
effectively perform the functions of his or her new position. As a result, they spend a great deal of time telling new
managers what should be done, but not much time on how things should be done. The problem is often
compounded by the fact that the people doing the promoting do not themselves always know how things should be done and
are therefore, incapable of providing asistance.
a result, many new, as well as tenured managers are severely disadvantaged. The situation is analagous to one where
an airline flight attendant is promoted to pilot and is then expected to successfully fly a plane without any formal
pilot training. If an airline executive took the position that a flight attendant should be able to fly an airplane because,
after all, he or she had been around pilots and aircraft for years, it would be considered a criminal offense. Yet,
senior managers in small and large organizations seemingly do this all the time. When a manager doesn't even
know what he doesn't know, all they he has to go on are his good intentions, and good intentions do not justify ineffectual
performance. If a manager doesn't know how to get the best from people (effective performance coaching skills), then
that manager is unlikely to generate the kind of results she or her people are capable of. This is why performance
coaching training is so important.
Qualities of Effective Performance
of Positive Expectancy
An effective performance coaches always expects the
best from the people they work with. People are remakably perceptive. Whether or not a coach expresses his
or her assessments verbally, those being coached generally have a pretty good idea of how they are regarded, and this
fact can have a dramatic impact on their the way they respond to coaching. Managers with high expectations treat their
subordinates in ways that lead to superior performance while managers with low expectations treat their people in ways that
lead to lower levels of performance than they are capable of achieving. In a nutshell, people generally live up
or down to the expectation placed on them.
Effective coaches bring positive energy into every
coaching situation, which transfers to the people they coach. A major part of the impact that coaches have is through
their own personal actions and demeanor. They set the tone for the interpersonal communication that takes place
in the coaching interaction. This not to say that performance coaches have to always act happy and upbeat,
but they must continually demonstrate that they are totally engaged in the objectives at hand and genuinly care
about achieving a positive performance outcome for the people involved as well as the organization.
As human beings, we are programmed to seek out trustwortiness. Without being
consciously aware of it, we tend to assess everyone with whom we come into contact as we go about performing our daily activities.
We attempt to detect sincerely as well as insincerity and adjust our responses accordingly. It is human nature to want
to avoid revealing any truth about one's self that may make a person uncomfortable. Furthermore, before any person is
willing to engage in something as highly personal as performance or career coaching, he or she must trust the coach enough
to permit the exploration of their dreams, fears and personal values. To be effective, a performance coach must above
all be perceived as someone who is genuinely concerned with the best interests of the coaching client.
Performance coaches recognize that they are constantly being watched,
especially in difficult situations, and realize that their actions are on display for others to see. Therefore,
they must be perceived as being authentic or real in the eyes of those they coach. They must convey through their words
and actions that they are indeed what they profess to be. Nothing detracts from a coach's effectiveness as does
the perception that a coach is pretending to be something that he or she is not. Authenticity is strongly relateed
to a performance coach's competency in the dicipline being coached, but is also closely linked to the degree a coach
lives his or her espoused values, and stands by his or her word.
An effective performance coach must be confident in his or her ability to facilitate improved performance
behaviors in others. This confidence derives from the coach's knowledge of the discipline being coached and from the coach's
skill in performance coaching methods. Both elements are important. Having great subject matter expertise in the
absence of performance coaching capabilities is just as bad as being a great coach but knowing little about the skill
set necessary for success in a specific field. In addition to knowing the job and how to facilitate individual development,
an effective coach should learn as much as possible about the coachees' strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes
and job requirements. The more a coach knows about a person, the better he or she will be able to coach successfully.
Acceptance of Personal Responsibility
Successful performance coaches assume personal responsibility
for their results. While self-development can be an effective development approach for workers and should be encouraged
in organizations, the primary responsibility for developing subordinates should always remain with the worker's direct supervisor/manager.
There is a popular saying that executives manage things, but lead people, meaning that managers should use
a directing approach to managing inanimate resources such as money and machines, but use a motivating approach
when managing human capital. See Management vs. Leadership. Our view is that an effective manager must do both. There are times when a manager must appeal to the
heart and minds of subordinates (i.e., motivate them) and times when a manager simply must do what is right by his people,
his organization and himself by developing them to their full potentials. A manager who does not take full responsibility
for managing human capital for optimum productivity as she would any non-human resource is simply not an effective manager.
Performance Coaching Methodology
Effective performance coaches are made, not born.
There is an established, proven methodology for successful performance coaching that governs an effective coaching dialog. There are specific procedures that need to be followed (i.e., performing a current performance assessment, setting coaching objectives, getting participant
buy-in, etc.) as well as specialized techniques that should be employed for asking questions, listening and providing feedback. Professional performance
coaches do not "wing it." They adhere to established principle for performance coaching success.
A manager who lacks performance coaching skills as much like person with an automibile but who has no idea of how to drive
it. In neither case will progress be very forthcoming.
Performance Coaching Training to meet you specific training
The Performnce Coaching training format described
here is designed to be tailored to your organization's specific performance coaching needs. We will work with your managers
and other stakeholders to create and implement a Performance Coaching training initiative whose results will not only exceed
your expectations, but whose impact will be measurable through established business metrics. We utilize those concepts that we and our clients jointly percieve to be most relevant
to the needs of manager-coaches, people being coached and the coaching environment. As with all of our training programs,
we include a segment on effective goal-setting and personal motivation. Our training programs can be delivered
in a variety of formats to suit your business needs.