How do you give talent tough love in a coaching relationship and preserve their self-esteem?
Presentation is everything. How you say it is more important than what you say. Dispense feedback in a direct, matter-of-fact, and non-personal way, especially when you’re giving tough love.
Tough love is only necessary when a relationship is not in place between a manager and talent. Having no relationship results in an absence of communication and collaboration, which are the cornerstones of effective coaching.
As a manager, take these steps and the need for tough love will be rare.
Establish and nurture a relationship based on trust, safety in taking risks, and fun.
Embrace healthy conflict by inviting talent to challenge your recommendations when they don’t agree with them. You also want to challenge talent to grow in specific areas, such as bringing more drama to the show. People are most complacent when they are least challenged.
Don’t be a dictator. Telling talent what to do without their involvement will only create resentment and resistance. Collaborate with talent so that you arrive at coaching action points as a team.
Don’t be a BUT! I was conducting a workshop with Jack Murphy at WKZL Greensboro, NC, and I complimented him on the way he executed a phone topic. Jack looked at me expectantly and said, “But…?” I followed with, “You missed the exit and took two calls that repeated earlier callers.” Jack ignored the compliment and only focused on what he did wrong in the exit. I realized that when you mix feedback, like my compliment followed by a critique, the talent will only hear what comes after the but.
Divide feedback between what the show is doing well and what they need to improve on. First, ask the show to evaluate what they think worked well and what needs work on a particular show or segment. Follow with what you think worked well. Put some space between the praise and the growth points. For instance, ask the show if there’s anything they need your help on, such as technical issues. Say something like, “Let’s talk about how you can build on your strengths.” Then deliver your action points.
Ask the show to repeat the action points that were agreed on. The show then follows up in writing with the action points in bullet-point form. When the action points come from the show, they have ownership of the feedback, and they are more likely to implement them on the air. Studies have shown that when an employee is told something, recall after three months is about 10 percent. When an employee is told and shown something, recall is about 33 percent. When an employee realizes, verbalizes, and writes something, recall increases to about 65 percent.
The next coaching session begins by reviewing the latest performance in reference to the last action points. Ask why any action points were not addressed. When the same point or points are not being addressed a second or third time, it’s time for tough love.
Tough Love: Ask these three questions:
- Do you actually agree on the action points?
- Do you need help implementing them?
- Do you feel capable of executing the action points?
In a situation where the talent or show doesn’t have the ability to move the show where it needs to go, or they’re not the right fit for the station’s target audience, it’s time for the formal employee performance evaluation, or the “Come to Jesus” meeting.
Review the ratings goals and evaluate the show with regard to content, execution, and character development. Outline specific goals and be clear that, in order to remain on the show, there will have to be significant improvement within 30 days. At the end of 30 days, review progress. If there’s been enough improvement, continue another 30 days. Repeat the same process at 60 days. In 90 days they either remain on the show or they’re replaced.
So, don’t be a but; focus on unlocking talent’s creative potential, and practice communication and collaboration.