I’ve been thinking a lot lately about coaching employees because I’ve been teaching a class on it several times a week. I have come to the conclusion that we may be thinking of coaching too generally and that every supervisor/coach might be better at it by breaking it down more specifically.
I say that because I’m convinced that while there are some common strategies, skills, and tactics that pertain to all types of coaching, there are some skills that are unique to each type. Furthermore, even when it comes to the universal aspects of coaching, they aren’t of equal importance, and they are used in different ways with each type of coaching.
I think you can make an argument for saying that coaching employees falls into three different categories:
De-briefing is the kind of coaching that takes place when a supervisor leads an employee to reflect upon a recent event, project, or transaction. Think of a football player watching the game film following either a win or a loss. It’s recognized as an important part of coaching—even at the high school level, but I am surprised at how many supervisors admit that they rarely, if ever, de-brief things with their employees. Sadly, if we don’t have coaches that do it with us, many of us will not have the discipline to do it by ourselves, either. If that’s the case, real improvement is not nearly as likely.
Development coaching is the kind of coaching where the supervisor is developing an employee by giving him or her new assignments, new responsibilities, and new challenges. We often say that good coaches see delegation as a means for development, not just as a means to get more things done. This is different than what takes place in de-briefing in several ways. De-briefing is about doing the same thing better. Development is about doing something new and developing new competencies. We’re told that a large part of the American workforce is disengaged from work, and I’m convinced that one way to change that is to do more development coaching.
Difficulties is the kind of coaching that supervisors have to do when there’s a problem or a difficulty with job performance. That could be attributed to many causes, but regardless of the cause, it requires a meeting (usually a series of meetings) where the supervisor leads the employee to see the problem and to work together to correct it.
If you are a supervisor or coach, I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’d like to know which kind you do the most and which type you tend to neglect.