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3 Reasons Your Coaching Program Isn't Delivering

Coaching isn’t a commodity you can just buy and count on. What coaching is targeted towards, how coaching is done, when coaching happens and who is accountable for what all play a huge role in whether you and your team succeed.

If your coaching program is falling short, here are three reasons it may not be working and what you can do to get back on track.

REASON #1: You Aren’t Clear What Platform Your Coaching Program is Supporting

When people don’t get the what, when, and why of coaching, they go through the motions and rationalize their behavior with comments like, “I don’t have time to coach,” “I already coach,” “Coaching wasn’t appropriate.” There is no faith, or focus, without a clear, meaningful goal to unlock the fire or passion.

If your deployment is mostly classes and training that may be the one reason you aren’t getting the results you want. Simply spending money on information about coaching or acknowledging its importance is not enough. Coaching deployments without clear goals lead to unclear results—at best. So what might the goals of a coaching deployment be? In my experience they fall into one, or even more likely all three, of the following areas.

Building Competency

Building the competency of coaching focuses on ensuring managers are capable in a specific skill set. These training activities often result in a default to the “checklist” approach to coaching. The competency-driven approach is based on the assumption that if people understand what to do, they will do it. While it is necessary for people to understand the skill set and even possess the skills, they are less likely to actually use them without a clear connection to a bigger goal or end result.

Building a Culture

Sometimes coaching is deployed to drive a specific cultural initiative such as engagement, accountability, change readiness, or innovation at the team, business unit, or organization level.

Coaching itself can be positioned as a cultural initiative. These deployments get more traction because they give a compelling reason to use the coaching skills being deployed; there is often more senior leader visibility and support, and the overall importance of coaching is elevated.

Cultural initiatives are often rooted in a developmental mindset with an underlying assumption that an increased level of “insert cultural initiative here” will impact specific critical measures. Too often, the efforts to build a culture become disconnected from producing tangible business outcomes, and thus the initiative loses relevance and support over time.

Achieving a Critical Measure

The most comprehensive and successful deployments make a clear connection between coaching and critical business measures. Defining some kind of burning platform and using coaching as a way to deliver on that result, is when coaching will gain the most traction and have the most impact.

When your coaching program is done in the context of a specific purpose or goal, the people you are coaching know what they are working towards, and as a result, their targeted actions and behaviors lead to specific outcomes.

REASON #2: You’re Not Holding People Accountable

Accountability is one of the most desired things in any organization and one of the hardest things to create. Everyone wants to work with people who

1. Say what they’ll do

2. Do what they say and

3. Communicate when they are unable to do what they said they’d do

Let’s call it SayDoCo for short.

At its simplest, people judge others based on how well they Say, Do, and Communicate. When people aren’t accountable it has a major impact on things that are critical to every organization. Everything from executing a competency to changing a culture to driving results are all impacted when people don’t SayDoCo.

The more you move from deploying coaching as a competency to deploying it to drive a business result, the more leaders will be engaged in supporting the deployment.

REASON #3: You’re Overcomplicating the Process of Coaching

The pattern of effective questioning has to be simple and repeatable to a large degree, so there is no mystery about how to do this effectively. In fact, when both the coach and the coachee know the questions, it can dramatically accelerate the whole process of coaching.

Improving performance is ultimately more about doing what we know than knowing what to do. Freeing people up to do what they know is what coaching is all about.

So next time you’re in the coach’s seat or looking to hire a coach for your team, remember the most effective approach to coaching.

• Tie coaching to a clear business result

• Hold people accountable

• Simplify how coaching is done

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