Successful sales organisations utilise the combined ability of their people to sell and service and at the heart of great sales organisations are great sales coaches.
We believe that coaching is the most underutilised skill in business today. Whilst it is regarded as essential for top sportspeople to have their own coaches, in business coaching is often given lip service, at best.
Good coaches get the best out of people. They unlock the potential that exists in individuals and translate it into quantifiable, measurable performance.
Q. How much of an individual’s potential is unlocked in this way?
A. Statistically we find it to be 30 – 40%.
That’s right – businesses only develop and coach their people to achieve about one-third of their potential! Imagine if you could double that in your team or business. The possibilities are endless.
So, what is coaching?
At Hawthorn Business Group we’d say that it’s empowering people to be responsible for their own development. It’s about helping them to learn, to come up with their own answers and solutions.
It’s also about unlocking their own potential to help them to perform at the highest possible level. And it’s about holding them accountable!
Potential, not Performance
When we talk about unlocking potential and empowering people, it suggests that the individual is capable of performing at a higher level than they are currently demonstrating. We believe that this is an essential starting point for the coach and one which ensures that the coaching will be proactive and forward-focussed rather than reactive and backward-looking.
Being a great coach is a way of life. It’s not something that is wheeled out once a month for a 1:1, or even once a year at an appraisal session. It’s a way of managing, a way of behaving and most importantly a way of leading people.
Let’s be a bit more specific:
|Good Coaches:||Poor Coaches:|
Whilst coaching is a way of life, in our view there are 3 distinct types of coaching that managers at all levels need to focus on:
- Monthly 1:1 performance planning sessions
- Regular skills observation sessions
- In the moment coaching
1. Monthly 1:1 performance planning sessions
These sessions should be structured to particularly discuss business and project results, activities, skills, knowledge, attitude and behaviours, the onus should be on the person being coached to create and agree upon a clear action plan that will improve their business and / or sales performance.
Consider the following:
Many coaches focus mainly on achievement of results. What’s more important is to focus on the activities, behaviours, attitudes, skills and knowledge of all of your people and ensure that outputs from your 1:1’s are structured around these areas.
These sessions are future oriented planning sessions that focus on improved performance.
2. Regular skills observation sessions
These sessions are designed to give individuals feedback on technical skills, project completion, customer interactions, sales skills and the like, and managers feedback on their coaching skills.
If coaches are to be able to give this feedback they have to observe the skills being applied in a practical situation – to see the game where it’s being played!
Yet we constantly see coachees unwilling to let their coaches see them in action, and likewise we see coaches believing that this is unnecessary. Imagine what we would think of a sports coach that gave feedback to the team without watching their games!
There’s a great saying in one of the early Dirty Harry movies where Harry is talking to his boss and says something like:
‘I never trust anyone whose butt is the same shape as their chair.’
Get out of your office and see what’s going on.
3. In the moment coaching
This is where managers seize the moment and give feedback to individuals or teams.
Catching people doing it right
People constantly need feedback and need to be told when they’re doing a good job. Conversely…
… if a coach observes inappropriate behaviour and chooses not to act on it, they are actually condoning the behaviour and setting it as a new acceptable standard.
In summary, coaching is a state of mind on the one hand, but also a skill that can be learned. We can think of no other activities that can have such a dramatic and lasting affect on the performance of both teams and individuals.