Work team coaching differs from other forms of coaching, and it’s more challenging in many ways. Business executives, athletes, and other self-driven achievers welcome a coach or mentor to push them to new heights. Hourly employees may be equally driven, but often resist being pushed. They are nevertheless eager to achieve more meaning in their work and life — and this is the coach’s key to bringing out their best.
In the purest sense, the coach’s job is to get business-related and human results. Coaches view employees as individuals having different abilities and needs. Coaches must help carry out the objectives of the company in highly competitive markets while interacting on an individual, personal level with the employees who will physically achieve those goals.
By building bridges and partnerships, coaches develop and nurture trust. With increasing trust, new avenues of workplace cooperation are opened. Hierarchical barriers erode. People more readily accept responsibility for their actions. Self-esteem is developed in employees, which results in greater competence, meaningful effort, and improved work performance.
Coaching is a process of building trust, which is constructed in the interaction between people. Trust-invoking interaction causes employees to trust themselves, their teams, and their organization. In this sense, it is the foundation upon which all of the moral precepts of work team coaching are built.
Four Coaching Qualities
Countless different coaching styles exist. A coach may be primarily task-oriented or people-oriented. He or she may be diplomatic, democratic, intuitive, by-the-book, or off-the-cuff. Permissive or strict. A coach should be able to “surf” from one style to another according to the particular job, shifting circumstances, and varying personalities of those being coached. Whatever the style, a coach must possess and continually develop the following four personal qualities, each of which is equally important and complements the others:
Competence: To keep the trust and allegiance of employees, a coach must be self-assured and competent. Technical knowledge does not automatically translate into competence. Competence also includes factors such as dealing with customers, managing time constructively, and following through on commitments. A deficiency in technical understanding can usually be overcome with sufficient learning skill and by listening attentively to team members.
Personality: Without a genuine passion to help others learn, grow, and achieve, you will eventually lose the attention of team members. You must genuinely care about others as people — a trait that is impossible to fake over an extended period. An engaging disposition coupled with moral character, integrity, and positive values will lead people to believe in you.
Empathy: Empathize with your team members. Let them know that you are all in the same situation, that the outcome of a project has the same importance for everyone concerned. Rather than follow the philosophy that “the end justifies the means,” consider what effect the means have in relation to the interests and well-being of the employees.
Integrity: Always maintain the highest ethical standards in your treatment of others. You must be, and be perceived as, honest. Morgan W. McCall, Jr., of the University of Southern California, says, “If you tell your associate to lie for you, you’ve just told her it’s okay to lie to you.” While confronting tough issues, you must be known for your unwavering trustworthiness and fairness.
Coaching is an integral function of successful work teaming. A progressive team will adapt the above coaching qualities internally. Individual employees will learn to coach themselves and each other, thereby setting the groundwork for high achievement and increased autonomy.
Steve Herbelin, co-author of “Work Team Coaching: An Interpersonal Approach to High Performance” and “I Love My Job! A Digest of Workplace Wit and Wisdom,” also publishes the highly acclaimed biweekly, “Work Team Coaching” e-zine. For job satisfaction, teambuilding, and training resources, please visit http://www.riverbankbooks.com