Developing People in a Growing Team : Coaching

Vikas Joshi
June 13, 2011

When an organization grows rapidly, its members must keep up. In the half-hour long one-on-one (O3) meetings discussed in my earlier posts, the last 10 minutes are reserved for the team member's development. The question is - how do you go about developing a direct. The answer is - you do it through coaching.

Some people sense a negative connotation in the word coaching. Somehow it is linked to fixing the wrong things. Or  even worse, it is seen as the last resort before letting an employee go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Coaching is a pro-active effort to develop the direct to the next level.

Here are the main steps in coaching that I have found effective. These are largely adopted from Auzenne and Horstman's Manager Tools podcasts:

1. Identify the next stage of development a direct needs to get to. This would follow from his/her growth path and next position you plan to promote the direct to. For example, your direct may be a frontline sales person who needs to learn campaign planning as one step towards becoming a sales manager.

2. Collaborate with the direct and get a buy-in on the development goal. This sounds easy, but may not always be so. The direct may have a different view of his or her own future. You want to be sure the commitment to development is mutual.

3. Again, collaborate with the direct and identify some good resources  that would help. Examples would be e-learning  material, training programs, books, webinars, expert consultants, budgets etc.

4. Collaboratively create a learning plan. The plan should have clear deliverables that can be discussed in each weekly o3. For example, the next week's goal could be to download two books to Kindle and to schedule an appointment with a consultant.

5. In every O3, follow up with the direct and find out how the direct is progressing relative to the plan.

That's it. Coaching is not training. In coaching you encourage the direct to improve effectiveness. You do this through regular, goal-oriented communication.

Do you believe a manager needs to be expert at a subject in order to coach the direct on it? Do you know the growth path for each of your directs? Do you have a coaching plan for each of your directs? Do you think delegating some of your own work to a direct is a good strategy to develop the direct for the next position?