Whether it’s to increase service/quality levels, boost engagement and morale, strengthen teamwork, or improve safety, we’re working with many organizations to strengthen coaching and developing skills across the organization.  Through this work we run into some or many of these pitfalls and traps:Jim Clemmer - Practical Leadership

Confusing “What” and “How” – this comes from confusing inspiration and knowledge with skills.  Even if supervisors, managers, and executives want to provide better coaching and know what it looks like, it doesn’t mean they can deliver it.  Skill building demands a development process that provides how-to steps and relevant models or examples with plenty of practice and feedback.

The Experience Assumption – too often it’s assumed that people in leadership roles have coaching skills simply because they have managerial experience.  Using ineffective approaches many times doesn’t lead to higher skill.  As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Are you and your managers practicing the right things?

Lack of Alignment – moving an organization’s management from ‘cops’ to ‘coaches’ starts with training.  However, it has to go much further than that.  Management systems and processes, reward and recognition, team engagement activities, as well as management standards and measurements have to reflect and support management’s vital coaching role.

Failing to Coach the Coaches – research overwhelmingly shows that not following through with on-the-job coaching after skill-development sessions can result in failure rates as high as 87 percent in applying the new skills to the job.  So who’s coaching your front-line coaches?  If you don’t train, hold accountable, and reinforce your executives and managers to provide this crucial support, only a small amount of your development investments will take.  The quality and “stickiness” of coaching and developing efforts are only as strong as your executive-to-supervisory coaching chain.

Executives Not Leading by Example – this is the single biggest reason coaching skills are not developed throughout an organization. Ensure that your executives practice the coaching skills preached by your development program. Supervisors and managers will imitate those at the top.  If merely paying lip service to coaching skills got an executive to the top, why would his or her management staff give it much more attention?  If executives are “too busy” to participate in developing their coaching skills, don’t waste everyone else’s time. 

In their book, Follow This Path: How the World’s Greatest Organizations Drive Growth by Unleashing Human Potential, Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina write, “Managers’ chief responsibility lies in helping employees on their team unleash their human potential. No systems, process, or self-directed team – irrespective of how modern, fashionable, or flawless it may be – can ever take the place of a great manager. That’s because great managers act as the emotional connection between employees and the organizations they work for. In effect, they act as the emotional engineers who set the reactions in place and watch them take effect.”

How skilled are the coaches in your organization?