During our past blogs and webinars on Coaching & Counseling we received a ton of comments about your discomfort with discussing the topic of poor performance or bad behavior with employees. We heard everything from “I don’t know how to start the conversation” to “What if my employee gets mad or worse?” These are all valid concerns and I can guarantee that anyone who has had to enter into that uncomfortable counseling or coaching discussion has felt the butterflies.
But what if we began to think about these coaching and counseling events a little differently? What if we looked at these events as less of a “blame game” and more of an opportunity to improve a bad situation?
As I think about managers who have the coaching and counseling jitters it generally boils down to fear. Fear that they don’t know what to say or fear that they’ll say the wrong thing. I realized that the managers who make it work have developed a different mindset about what it takes to make coaching or counseling successful. They frequently say that in order for it to work they are the ones who must make a change first and by doing so, they are better prepared to communicate their message.
You see, everything I’ve learned about leadership is less about experience running an operation and more about being a successful communicator. When I started writing my e-book, Successfully Running Your Operation, I thought the true keys to successful leadership and running a successful operation was being aware of your employees, caring about their lives, and making sure that you were following best practices. And while all of that is a very important when you’re running a successful business, what I’ve realized is that leadership is more than just experience and skills, it’s understanding that everyone around you listens in a different language and that you have to be willing to change your communication style so they can hear your message.
The key to successful leadership is not only the willingness to change your own communication style but also the willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure that your employees have the opportunity to hear the message and to respond positively.
According to Zachary A. Schaefer, Ph.D., founder and president of the organizational development firm Spark The Discussion, reframing statements into questions especially when dealing with an employee who has done wrong, can make all the difference.
Schaefer said, “For example, a statement like “You should not have filed that paperwork in that manner” could be replaced with “What is the benefit of filing the paperwork that way?” Schaefer explains this tiny language adjustment shifts the interaction from a mode of blame to contribution and ultimately improves your relationship with those you lead.
So as you reflect on what you can do to become more effective at coaching and counseling I’d like you to please consider making a conscious mind shift about how the counseling and coaching message will be best received. If you can begin to think of counseling and coaching in terms of an opportunity to improve instead of thinking in terms of blame and punishment, your chances of achieving successful outcomes will dramatically improve.
Coaching and counseling presents all managers with the opportunity to be great leaders. By your willingness to put your ego on hold and to change your communication style by speaking in a language that is heard and understood by your employee, you’ve taken the first step on the path to great leadership.
Here are three ways to shift your coaching and counseling process:
- Adapt your communication style as needed to ensure your message is heard.
- Pay close attention to your language and make adjustments that shift the interaction from blame to contribution.
- And lastly, make that mind shift that coaching and counseling is an opportunity to improve, not place blame or issue punishment.
There’s nothing magic about it. We just have to be willing to shift our mindset and then walk our talk.
Join us on April 20, 2016 for our “Walk Your Talk: Coaching & Counseling Like a Pro” Complimentary Webinar.