Performance Part 2 – Performance coaching L048

Last blog we looked at performance planning, and in particular setting goals and using the SMART adjectives to describe the kind of goals we want. These goals are important as they have the power to pull us into the future as well as give us some frame of reference to tell if we are doing anything right.

Once goals have been set, we need to engage with some kind of performance coaching (or mentoring); either as the coach, in being coached, or possibly both depending on our role in the organisation. If we fail to do this there is a high risk that the goals will stay in the draw for the next 12 months and only get revisited days before the next review is due. In other words, no good to man or beast!

The coaching process will vary depending on context and the experience of those we are coaching. The goals set become the framework for the coaching. That is why it’s so important that the person we are coaching has had a significant part in setting the goals. If they have done this they will be motivated to pursue them and welcome your input as to how to reach them.

Meeting regularly for input is vital to minimising confusion, pain and wasted time. The GROW acronym is useful if you need a framework for having the important conversations. After awhile you will discover that you are asking the relevant questions without realising you are using this process. GROW stands for:

Goals

Reality

Options

Will do

Once the relevant Goals are identified we need to ask the question ‘so what is actually happening?’ In other words, what is the Reality of the situation? Or as Jim Collins in ‘Good to Great’ says – ‘confront the brutal facts’. Until we do this we can live in fantasy land in the misguided belief that everything is rosy in the garden, when in fact mildew, black spot, greenfly and slugs are quietly destroying everything. So we need some way of getting a sober assessment of how things are going. The coach’s role is to draw out this information or to provoke the getting of it.

Are we tracking towards our goals or are we well off-track caught up in the trap of activity without direction? What ways do we have of measuring that? Are there easy-to-get metrics in the form of numbers, or are we dependant on softer information. If clear metrics are not available then at the very least we need to be getting feedback from our team, staff, clients, service users or church members. Feedback is a great reality-bringer. As John Maxwell says ‘it is the food of champions’.

Once we have some idea of our reality, we can isolate the issues we want to deal with. The coach’s role is to help the person to identify the issues they want to deal with, the ones they think are most important in the context of pushing on towards their goals. Again it is important that the coach leaves it to the person to identify and decide which issues they want to deal with, as these will be the ones they are most motivated to tackle. If they seem to be missing a huge issue, then you can explore their reasons for not wanting to deal with it. Are they just ignoring the elephant in the room or do they have good reason for not wanting to tackle that issue now?

Confronting limiting thinking is a big part of performance coaching and nowhere more so than when looking at Options. The person will probably already have a solution to the issue they have identified, but their first instinct may well not be the best solution. The coach must keep asking ‘what else?’ when looking at options – almost until it hurts. Stretch their thinking; get them to think outside the box. There are many different ways of asking the question that will provoke a new perspective on the problem and the solution

Once all the options for what to do next are on the table, then it’s just a question of selecting the one most likely to give success. Conferring with colleagues may be important before signing off on a course of action. But this is the crucial step – what Will you do, when will you do it, who else needs to be involved, what resources or information do you need etc. All these kinds of questions need answering to form a clear and accountable action plan. ‘Who will be following up on this?’ is an important question. As someone said ‘people do what you inspect, not what you expect’. Accountability is a powerful dynamic to ensuring timely delivery.

The GROW process is just a simple and basic framework for performance coaching, there is so much else to good coaching. Encouragement around what the person is doing right, showing how things can be done better, offering advice in specific situations, just being there, are all massively important. The worst kind of line manager (as Ken Blanchard says) is the seagull manager. They are nowhere to be seen until there is a problem, then they swoop in and dump all over you! I pray none of us operate like that.

More about coaching on another occasion. Next blog – performance evaluation

This entry was posted by nic on Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 3:57 pm and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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