The workplace may seem different to the sports arena but there are similarities
Sir Alex Ferguson, Clive Woodward, Dave Brailsford and Andy Flower - just a few of the professionals who have been recognised as great sporting coaches in recent years. Do you consider yourself a great coach? Do you use the term “coach” when you lead?
Coaching in sport is synonymous with leadership in business. Both disciplines require the same skills, aptitudes and attitudes. Yet rarely do leaders refer to themselves as coaches; it’s not corporate language.
Coaching in business is often a term restricted to describing specific training interventions but if you move away from that mindset and see every interaction as a coaching one, you will inspire huge improvements in performance and engagement.
Tips on how to coach for success in business
● Review the previous year’s performance
● Set the benchmark for the upcoming 12 months
● Bridge the gap between targets and achievements
● Set goals and ensure your staff analyse their own performance. Then, create a coaching plan together
● Agree on conditions, minimum standards and targets that must be met in the next 12 months, as well as the consequences of non-delivery
Start every relationship or performance cycle with the same five-step approach:
»Work with your team to explore whether objectives were achieved. How was this done? Which goals were exceeded? Which ones were not achieved? Why not?
»Research great performers in your field, within and beyond your own region, specialism and organisation. Identify what differentiates them and ensures they do well. Then, with the team, analyse the difference between their performance, attitude and behaviours and those of the benchmarked performers.
»Explore what your team will need to do in the next 12 months to close that gap. Individuals must come up with precise answers about how they will bridge it. Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the approach.
»As a coach and a leader, encouraging your team to contribute to their own performance analysis and solution research is powerful. Request detailed actions and strategies to ensure you create a meaningful coaching plan together.
»Your team must take a lead role in identifying its goals and the milestones it must reach en route to achieving them. Goals must be clear, measurable and stretching - concepts familiar to the corporate world. Keep a record of these goals and the agreed coaching plan.
»Agreeing conditions and commitments to be adhered to is not common in business. How often are your staff asked to identify key actions they must take in the next 12 months to maintain their status, responsibilities, pay, benefits, or even job? Yet, personal accountability and open acknowledgement of a minimum expectation can work well. Research shows transparency and clarity about minimum standards, and the consequences of non-delivery are highly motivational and effective in driving both performance and engagement.
Charles Van Commenee is UK Athletics head coach and under his guidance, the British Athletics team was the most successful ever to compete in the European Championships