What Do Good Coaches Do?

February 24th, 2020

When you hear the word “coaching,” you might think of sports before you think of anything to do with HR or performance management. But, when we really get down to it, coaching has everything to do with our work as HR professionals. A coach’s job is to help each member of the team do their best. That doesn’t mean simply telling them the answer. A good coach creates an environment where the person they’re coaching can figure it out themselves.

Here are five important elements of being a good coach—taken from our Performance Management Reimagined Program—that we can reference whether we’re practicing ourselves or coaching others to be good coaches:

  1. Help Set Boundaries: One of the biggest sticking points for most people when they’re trying to change is creating a clear plan and sticking to it. One of your most important roles as a coach is, therefore, to help the people you are coaching understand the importance of setting (and holding) boundaries so they have the time, headspace, and energy to do the necessary work.
  2. Monitor Performance Over Time: When you are coaching someone, you are able to offer a unique perspective on their performance over time. You are able to engage in meaningful dialogue over goals, strengths, weaknesses, and improvements without the pressure and formality of performance reviews. You can offer honest feedback, help them identify next steps, offer support, and give them the occasional kick in the pants.
  3. Connect to Resources: None of us can do it all ourselves. Great coaches understand the importance of inspiring teamwork and a willingness to accept help. If you cannot provide the necessary skill, support, or training, the best thing you can do as a coach is connect your team members with the right resources. Help them identify what they need, connect them with internal experts or outside training, and encourage them to give it their all.
  4. Create a Sense of Urgency: Sometimes we won’t give it our best or work to improve our skills without a reason. Great coaches know how to get people to “dig deep” by creating and communicating the right sense of urgency. This can be especially difficult when coaching someone who doesn’t want to be coached or who has more experience than you do. But everyone responds to the right sense of urgency, so it’s worth the effort to figure out which buttons may need pushing.
  5. Align with the Big Picture: Growth can be hard. Having a supportive coach can make a huge difference, especially if the coach helps us connect our personal goals to big picture initiatives in the organization, such as new business strategies or priorities from the CEO. As a coach working in HR, you might be in a particularly good place to offer this kind of support because of your visibility across the entire organization. Use those insights to help motivate and empower the people you coach.

To learn more about coaching and other key elements to creating a culture of effective performance management, enroll in the Performance Management Reimagined Program in the Josh Bersin Academy by February 26.