Imagine for a moment that you are coaching the high jump.

You have high aspirations – you dream of coaching an athlete to Olympic gold. After several attempts the high jumper clears the bar. What do you do?

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We all know that saying nothing and walking away isn’t the right answer. And I bet that many of you are right on the money – the good coach does two things: They immediately acknowledge the result, and then they raise the bar.

What do you think would happen if you didn't lift the bar and waited 6 months to acknowledge the result? Right – your high jumper would spend a little time at the same level and then go to another coach. Forget about the Olympics, you will never coach a high jumper of any substance, and the competition will consistently beat you. 

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Yet this is how many managers manage their staff. Your staff members are not that different from athletes. People left to their own devices will not accomplish as much as when a good coach supports them.

The metaphor does not end there:

 

A good coach knows how much they should raise the bar.

A good coach knows that just raising the bar is not going to make the athlete get over it. A good coach knows that he will have to develop the strength and technique of the athlete. A good coach knows how to push through training days and repetitive drills when motivation may be low but also know how to recognise when injury and burnout are a danger. A good coach is both demanding and supportive.

Three things that are even worse than not raising the bar:

  1. Not even having a bar in the first place
  2. Not communicating clearly where the bar is
  3. Not helping them to get over the bar in the first place
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And, most important of all, a good coach knows how to select an athlete with the right capabilities. It doesn't make sense to pick the “large-boned” kid for the high jump. So why do managers persist in selecting staff that will never live up to the manager’s requirements? No amount of coaching is going to get them over the bar. And if you are the high jump coach who happens to find a large-boned kid on your team, then you will do each of you a favor when you encourage them towards the shot put, where their bulk will serve them well.

This ties in neatly with the five things that are not on your job description but should be. They are: Selection, Results, Fixing underperformance, Retention and Balance. I write about them more here.

Most of us have a pretty good instinct about what it means to be a good coach. But it seems a bit less clear when it comes to managing staff. If you think about it, the job of a Boss is to get people to do stuff. But getting people to do what you want must be one of the toughest things in the world. That’s why I've made the www.boss.camp program. It'll show you how to make managing easy in just an hour a week.

So the question is - what sort of coach do you think you would be? What sort of manager do you want to be?

Tip: Weekly one-on-one meetings with your staff create the ideal forum to coach them. If you aren't sure what to cover in one-on-ones then get your free one-on-one form here.

Coaching focuses on helping another person learn in ways that let him or her keep growing afterward. It is based on asking rather than telling, on provoking thought rather than giving directions and on holding a person accountable for his
or her goals.
— Forbes

I hope you find these free insights and actionable tips helpful and inspiring. The best way to learn these skills is by doing one of the training modules and if you would like to learn more I would encourage you to take a course. This is how I support the creation of this content. Please see the side bar for course links or go to the training page to find out more.


Comments:

Do you have any comments, questions or tips about coaching employees? Help the rest of us out by sharing in the comments below.


Boss Camp

So you spent years at university and thousands of dollars to learn a technical skill. But technical skills will only take you so far. People that get ahead know how to manage, motivate and retain their employees. That’s why one hour a week is the best investment you can make in your career, your earnings and confidence at WWW.BOSS.CAMP. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees,
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