(By Gary Begin) If you’re not getting better, you’re falling behind. Every world-class athlete, performer, or executive knows this and it’s true of your station sales, programming, technical, and other staff as well.
Winners in any profession understand that without the right “coach,” they won’t achieve their objectives. A steady focus on effective coaching will increase performance, even in the face of client and project distractions, and secure your spot as a winner.
Unfortunately, coaching may be the item bypassed by busy general managers, market managers, programmers, DOEs, and sales managers.
In my travels as a consultant, I am reminded every time I turn on the radio that most air talent lack the “relatability” and entertainment skills necessary to keep me tuned in.
Since coaching is something done with people, rather than to people, how well prepared (both in skills and attitude) are managers to coach? Managers typically possess an innate interpersonal technique.
Coaching is talking with a person in a way that helps him or her solve a problem. Some managers confuse coaching with giving advice. The reality is often that, as Gordon Dickson noted, “Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.”
Managers are asked to improve productivity without additional resources. One option is to enhance behavior and performance through coaching. Managers also need to use their coaching skills within the company with those who don’t necessarily report to them, as well as outside their organization.
An effective coaching skills strategy emphasizes collaboration and respect rather than control and faultfinding. People can see effort that’s expended in helping them do a good job and experiencing a sense of achievement.
Effective coaching skills, therefore, contribute to not only a “push” to achieving business outcomes, but also a “pull” towards effective leadership.
Think of the following as an air-check for your management team on coaching employees.
Knows the discipline he or she is coaching: It seems obvious, but a coach must know ins and outs of the discipline—the rules, the history, the tactics, etc.
Motivates the team: Remember that a coach will need to lead a team of individuals, every one with different personal goals. The coach’s job is giving the team enough motivation to turn their attention from their private matters to the goals of the station.
Talks only when it gets results: A good coach will never speak without a good cause. If he or she talks too much, employees will stop listening.
Ability to listen: If the manager is to become a good coach, he or she needs to think like a surrogate father or mother for the team; listening is the single most important trait that can make it possible.
Knows their team: Another important matter is a coach knowing one’s team. It’s not only about matching numbers with names. A good coach knows about the professional and the private lives of their teammates.
Treats everyone individually: It is necessary for a manager to treat each employee individually. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Leads by example: A good coach does everything he or she will ask others to do.
Beyond technical aspects of setting goals during coaching, it is critical to pay attention to certain interpersonal issues. As a coach, you must set clear expectations, performance standards, and specific objectives regarding what should be done, when, and how. Measure performance. Focus on behavior, not value judgments. Correct deviations from performance standards.
Make it clear that you are on the same side as the employee and that the objective of the meeting is for the employee to be successful. Provide guidance while preserving the employee’s self-esteem. Give an employee with longer service an extended time to improve. Set the time for improvement in accordance with the specific behavior involved.
Effective systematic coaching is an opportunity to build meaningful partnerships between members of an organization. Without effective coaching skills, progress is just that much harder.
Gary Begin is the founder and president of Sound Advantage Media, a radio programming consulting firm. His book Radio Programming and Branding—The Ultimate Podcasting and Radio Branding Guide is available on amazon.com. Contact Gary at [email protected]; www.soundadvantagemedia.com; 731-437-0536