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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coaching, Tom Hanks, and Trust

The ability to coach is the key to successful leadership.  The model used does not matter as much as the individual's ability to communicate the message and obtain positive action afterwards.  After observing hundreds  of managers, being a manager, and being managed, I believe the most important element in a successful coaching relationship is trust. 

Do your employees trust you, and why should you care?

Most decent coaching models approach the discussion from two sides, the administrative and the emotional.  Administrative loosely means the paperwork and brainstorming what is to be said.  The coach gathers information to share with the employee on true observed behaviors and develops how to lead the discussion with the employee to adjust to desired behavior.

The second is the emotional side.  There are multiple emotions to consider, but the foundation to all relationships is the degree we trust the other person.  Think politicians: would you vote for someone who sounded competent, but on some level you don't trust them? When my mom corrected me as child, I trusted she had my best interest at heart.  It doesn't change all that much as we age.  The person giving us correction, whether expert, peer or authoritative, needs our belief in them.

If trust is not established, cultivated, or is lost, a coaching discussion has little chance to create change.

The Gurus' Solutions to Build Trust 

1. Have Technical Knowledge Expertise or Humility Plus a Development Plan  
Believing the person coaching us knows a better path is critical.  Many times this happens because the direct supervisor was promoted to the job because of technical expertise.  If you do not have this expertise, humble yourself to acknowledge it and work on getting enough.  Enough is determined by industry and jobs to be supervised. Ask peers for advice.  Create your own development plan.

2. Individually Coach the Good and Bad
Tracking of positive and opportunity situations for an employee signals you are looking at them holistically.  You simply care about the big picture, and that translates into her overall best interest.

3. Handle Problem Children Quickly and Effectively
When you have a poor performer, deal with it.  Dealing with it shows your leadership integrity and employees trust you have the overall performance of the team at the center of your coaching practice.

4.  Treat Employees like People
If you only speak to employees when you are coaching, that is not treating them with respect.  Try to connect to everyone on the team, especially ones you have share less commonalities.  On the other end of the spectrum, understand the division between engaged supervisor and BFF.  This line should be clean for the group to trust you do not play favorites.

So what does this have to do with Tom Hanks?  According to a Reader's Digest Trust Poll, Tom Hanks is the most trusted person in America.  Who knew?  (See the entire list here.)

Additional Resources 

Bruce Tulgan's It's Okay to be the Boss.  It is an easy practical read for all levels of leadership, especially good for new leaders.  It has evolved my thoughts on effective leadership. I have no relationship with Bruce or his company, I just enjoyed the book.

Continue reading at our blog on Coaching Howm' I doin' - Giving and Receiving Feedback

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