The Top 5 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success

The Top 5 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success

Coaching is one of the key components of managing modern employees. Nowadays, most people don’t just want to turn up to work and complete their daily tasks: they’re interested in both their personal and career development, and expect their managers to align with this and help bring them to the next level. Coaching your employees and helping them progress is the mark of a successful manager, and one that team members are highly grateful for. We take you through the top 5 ways to coach your team to success, and become a great leader yourself as you do so.

Listen: get to know the individual

Coaching isn’t a one-fits-all process. It’s important to tailor what you’re doing depending on who you’re interacting with. There isn’t a formula when it comes to helping someone develop: instead having a genuine understanding of the individuals that make up your team and what they’re needing to work towards will make for a far better and more useful process for everyone. Asking people what they feel they need to work on, how they see their development and what they think their next steps are, rather than simply putting people on standardized plans is far more beneficial. It will allow your team to each work on things which will benefit them and their long-term development plans. People will also really appreciate that you’re taking the time to treat them as individuals and cater to their goals, and in turn likely feel way more motivated to put great effort into their work.

Ask question

Asking people what they want from the coaching process goes hand-in-hand with communicating well. Once you realize what people want from the process, it’s easy to tailor what you’re doing. One fail-safe way to start is by asking people questions. What is it they want? Only once you know what people’s key focuses are can you really start to help them. Just taking the straight forward step of asking people the right questions can make all the difference between a useful process being set in place and people still not being happy with their progress. Really listening to your employees responses and tailoring the next steps around their answers shows you value people, and are in line with their personal values and goals. Asking people what they actually want out of the process is the only way to ensure it’s fully useful: whilst sometimes, as a manager, you have to assign things to people, working on coaching and their development programs can’t just be another one of these tasks. It really requires people to give their input and work collaboratively with you in order to take control of their own development.

Focus on people, not tasks

Make it clear to your team that the conversations and feedback taking place aren’t focused around the tasks or projects they’re working on, but how they can work on their skills, knowledge or practices and build them to improve future performance. When coaching your team, that’s exactly what the focus should really be on: using these skills and points for improvement to shape future practices and personal development. It’s key to have people know that this is all something you can build on together over time, and that you’re not expecting the things discussed to change and improve instantly overnight.

Emotional Intelligence

Coaching employees isn’t just about the employee. A large part of coaching people is the way you yourself deal with them; how you both perceive and in turn interact with them. If you can level with people, try and understand where they’re coming from with any problems in their role, opposing outlooks or personal issues, you’ll be far better equipped to deal with the situation at hand and work with people on a one-to-one basis. Being more aware of and increasing your emotional intelligence will by far improve you as a coach and mean you’re ready to better support and guide people: it’s not surprising that successful leaders seem to have higher than average levels of emotional intelligence.Being emotionally intelligent requires a focus: both on yourself and having an acute awareness of your inner workings, but also on others: empathizing with them and using your understanding as a basis to work more closely with people on a personal level.

Feedback is key

It’s impossible for people to develop without feedback. If your team aren’t aware of what they can improve, it doesn’t allow them to change or really build upon what’s going well. Providing effective, real-time feedback means plans can be tailor made to ensure the most efficient development takes place. Giving people tailored feedback which you’ve built up from closely working with them is the first step towards a useful development process. It’s also hugely important to recognize people’s achievements. Feedback isn’t just limited to constructive criticism: praising people for their successes is equally important. If your team know that you’re both aware of what they’re doing and you support them in their successes, they will be appreciative and likely strive even harder towards their goals as they know both where their strengths and weaknesses are, and that they have the support needed to achieve their upmost potential. It’s a great idea to set up regular 1-on-1’s with team members so feedback is established as an ongoing process.

Coaching is an increasingly important part of a modern manager's job. It’s key to get comfortable with coaching people by building genuine, unique relationships with your team members, using feedback efficiently, and listening to people to find out what they want and where they feel they’re headed. Once you’re collaborating like this and leading your team in the direction they need, you’re well on your way to coaching a happy and motivated team to success.

Steffen Maier
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Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise, a platform for actionable, timely feedback among co-workers. He is Y Combinator alum and recognized thought leader in Human Resources ... Click for full bio

The New Brand Differentiators Are Operations and Logistics

The New Brand Differentiators Are Operations and Logistics

Operations and logistics are frequently viewed as secondary functions that can be handled by someone else. But here’s the thing: With data so richly available, using it to help reinvent operations and logistics can help you stand out just as much as the next electric car or purple cow.

Just take a look at some of the world leaders in business.

Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and other sharing sites are turning their industries around with structural and operational changes that challenge old paradigms. It’s not the products or services that stand out but the operations, logistics, and method of delivery.

For example, Amazon does not just succeed on lower prices or by offering different products than their competitors. They have revolutionized, simplified, and automated ordering, customer service, distribution, and warehousing.

The results have been staggering. It’s estimated that in 2016, they represent about 30-40% of internet retail sales and 8-10% of total retail sales.

Operations Innovation Isn’t Just For The Big Businesses

You might be thinking, “But that’s for the big businesses. How can that help my small business?”

Changing operational paradigms is for small businesses, too! Take a look at GrubHub. They are a publicly traded company, but think of whom they help: restaurants, big and small. They’ve helped thousands of restaurants expand their sales by providing seamless delivery.

Outsourcing key activities like web design, social media, cloud services, CRM, and even distribution have become both less complicated and more affordable.

No matter the size of your business, you can streamline or maximize your operations to take your sales and profits to a whole new level. The key is maximizing forecasting, inventory control, and distribution to maximize service, investment return, sales, and profitability.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Many operations experts say that 80% of sales are with 20% of your products. It’s often true, yet suppliers continue to proliferate styles, colors, sizes, models, and features to presumably serve more customers and provide more features. By keeping it simple, you help yourself and your customers.
  2. Pursue profit and not volume. Businesses frequently fail by adding too many stores, products, and marketing. In contrast, focusing on competitiveness, bestsellers, reducing costs, and reducing structure can have huge payoffs.
  3. Conduct a simple “SWOT” analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to get a perspective on your business. The surprising aspect of this exercise is that we frequently take our strengths and opportunities for granted rather than maximizing them. For example, approaching key and repeat customers usually presents the greatest opportunity, lowest cost, and most profitable source of additional sales.
  4. Encourage testing new ideas and scrapping ones that don’t work. You will make mistakes. Focus on solving them rather than blaming someone. Consider using the process of develop, test, measure, and adapt. The measure step is, by the way, the most frequently forgotten.

It’s easy to get seduced by design, marketing, or the next flashy idea. Plenty of businesses innovate in these areas. Don’t forget, though, that just as frequently, success comes from innovation in operation and logistics.

Dr. Bert Shlensky
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Bert has over 30 years of experience as a results-driven executive leader.  Over the past six years he initiated five startup businesses--each of which achieved sales wit ... Click for full bio