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Seven Solid Tips for Coaching for Positive Performance

Here are seven proven ideas from Ian Cook, CSP, that you can implement to improve your overall effectiveness as a manager in this area. For over twenty years, Ian, a speaker, trainer and facilitator, has been helping managers draw out the very best contributions their employees and teams can bring to the enterprise.

Tip #1: Leverage existing strengths (competencies) and performance.
Research clearly shows that the impact on performance results is substantially greater when you help an employee develop an already strong capability into an extraordinary one than when you try to turn a weak competency into just an OK one. It pays to focus more of your limited coaching time on your stronger staff members.

Tip #2: Paint the vision–and benefits–of them performing well.
What will it look like when they are operating more effectively and getting greater results? What will it feel like for them? How will they benefit, personally? How will the organization benefit? Discuss this early in your coaching process. Ask for their perspective on these questions.

Tip #3: Assess both their motivation and their ability.
What is holding the employee back? She (or he) may lack one or more of: motivation, self-confidence, skill or knowledge. If she needs certain skills or knowledge and you believe she is capable of learning this, then training is the best approach. If, on the other hand, she lacks desire or a belief in herself, you need to focus your coaching on attitude.

Tip #4: Express your belief and confidence in their ability.
If the employee respects your wisdom and trusts you (this is key), when you tell her that you absolutely believe she can achieve the goal or the learning she will pick up your faith in her and come to believe it herself.

Tip #5: Get them to do the thinking.
A coach may prod, encourage, give feedback and make suggestions. Resist the temptation, however, to tell them what to do and how to do it. Instead, help them discover it for themselves. A solution they come up with will fit their mental “map” or “model” and will have a much better chance of becoming part of how they operate in the future.

Tip #6: Reframe perceived obstacles into possible actions.
Learning is often daunting. The employee often finds reasons why he can’t learn the new skill or behavior or perform at a higher level in his current job. Move him off the “problem” by asking him what he could do to overcome it or what he could do differently. Remember, humans are wired to move towards that which they think about…either the obstacle or a way around it.

Tip #7: Track progress and celebrate small “wins.”
Our brains are wired to respond to positive reinforcement and feedback. When we see our own progress, even small steps, we become encouraged and motivated. Watch their activity and results and draw their attention to instances where you see them doing it “right” or at least better.

Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, is an expert in assisting managers and supervisors build strong teams and get more from their employees through modern leadership approaches. To talk further with Ian about these approaches or to book him for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail. You can check out his company's website at

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