Career masterclass: Be a top coach

Want to lead your team to success? Here's some tips on how to be a top coach.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Prioritise. When deadlines loom, coaching is all too easy to postpone. Don't. Find a format that works for you (weekly check-ins over breakfast, Skype chats while you travel) and commit.

Start strong. Don't waste your first session on niceties. Ask your team to bring a list of things they want to achieve and how they think you can help. This is coaching, not a coffee morning.

Educate. At first, coaching (that is, apprenticeships) involved telling trainees exactly what to do. Today, we ask questions to guide people to answers. But the ideal is a mix. For example, if you're setting goals, ask them what exceptional performance looks like and share what you think they could achieve.

Build trust. Coaching relationships rarely work without it. Highlight shared interests, show you appreciate them, be consistent, and don't ever breach their confidence.

Craft their dream job. We're more productive when doing tasks that play to our strengths. Find out what they relish, then delegate accordingly. If you can't change their role, change their perception by showing how tasks fit with their long-term goals.

Keep them motivated. Are there tasks they just can't learn to love? Show them how they link to the company's goals: 'I know you hate data analysis but we're moving towards a more data-driven approach; you're making yourself indispensable.'

Give them the inside track. From the CEO's pet projects to the resource controller's sweet spots, show your proteges how to impress those who matter most, and keep your ear to the ground about the impact they're having.

Get real. If you know they want to leave, do what you can to prepare them for their next step. It's better they're engaged in their final months than mentally checking out.

Swallow your pride. If things aren't working, have an honest chat then help in the one way you can: find them a new coach.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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