Oftentimes I’m asked “What are the required skills necessary to be an effective coach? “ (Incidentally, many of these skills, plus others, are essential if you’re going to serve as an effective mentor, a topic we’ll discuss in future communications). Whether you have been asked to coach one person or a group in your business unit, or whether you, because of your supervisory position, realize there are members of your team that need coaching, here are the nine most often cited skills you should have in your coaching arsenal:
• Attending: Simply put, attending, or listening, is a clear demonstration that you are paying close attention to the comments and nuances of those comments from the person you are coaching.
• Paraphrasing: This is repeating in your own words what you believe the person has said. This demonstrates understanding on your part and instills confidence in the person you are coaching that you are hearing their entire message.
• Recognizing and expressing feelings: You, as a coach, are interpreting as precisely as you can, what is being felt by you and by the coached employee in your discussion. It’s o.k. to express feelings in these coaching sessions because emotions are an honest and integral part of this working relationship and they need to be considered in whatever coaching strategy is to be employed.
• Silence: After making your comments, give the employee the opportunity to speak and respond to your points. Both of you (coach and coached) need to stop periodically to reflect on what has been said and felt. Silence often means the other person is actually thinking about and considering what you said. That is essential.
• Suspending Judgment: Find ways to ensure that you, as the coach, are listening with an open mind to what is being expressed. This is especially true in the beginning stages of a coaching session, where your biases and preconceptions may color what you think you’re hearing.
• Involving: The involving skill is your capacity to encourage the employee to talk openly and frankly about his/her problems, feelings, ideas and suggestions. The employee being coached has to be an essential part of the solution to whatever situation you think needs to have coaching assistance.
• Feedback: Feedback in the coaching session and in many other business interactions entails telling the other person how you react to their behavior, their ideas, etc., and, especially important today, encourages the employee to provide reciprocal feedback to you as to how you’re doing as a coach and as a resource for the employee..
• Disclosing: Disclosing is the sharing of purposeful, useful information and experiences that you have gained in order to give the employee additional insights and to increase their trust and comfort level.
• Demonstrating: This skill/technique asks that you, as the coach, provide a simulation to help the other individual better understand or learn a concept, skill or desired behavior.
If you are able to consistently apply these skills and methods, your coaching sessions will be valued by the person you are coaching and can result in clear-cut evidence of job improvement and increased confidence on the part of the person being coached.