30 High Performance Coaching Tips!
1. Ask open questions
Asking closed questions prevents people from thinking. Asking open questions causes them to think for themselves. No inspiration? Here’s a long list with questions following the performance coaching process steps from the GROW model.
2. Performance coaching = make your coachee think
Ask open questions that demand your coachee to focus more than usual to give accurate answers. Here’s an example: ‘Can you summarize in three headlines the added value of awareness and responsibility for your coaching activities in the future?’ rather than ‘What do you remember from the previous coaching experiences?’.
3. Don’t be judgmental
Ask open questions that demand descriptive, non-judgmental answers. This way, you avoid causing self-criticism or damaging your coachee’s self-esteem.
4. Resist the Why? question
Asking why often implies criticism and triggers the coachee’s analytical thinking process. And analysis (thinking) and awareness (observing) are two different mental processes that are virtually impossible to combine to full effect. So aim for questions that start with words such as what, when, who, how much and how many.
5. Keep it short
Make your coaching questions clear and unambiguous. It helps when you limit yourself to one brief question. And listen for the response before launching a new question.
6. Go on a trip
A useful metaphor for the performance coaching model ‘GROW‘ is the plan you might make for an important journey. First, you start with a map that helps your coachee decide where they are going (their Goal) and establish where they currently are (their current Reality). Then you explore various ways (the Options) of making the journey. In the final step, establishing the Will, you ensure your coachee is committed to making the journey.
7. Performance coaching: go undercover
You don’t need a formal coaching session to raise someone’s awareness and responsibility. In fact, most coaching takes place unsolicited, with the coachee unaware of the process. The coached individual will simply think that you were being particularly helpful and considerate.
This means that every conversation you have becomes a potential testing ground – a learning experience – to improve your coaching skills.
8. Ask for, and be open to feedback
Everybody learns, even the best coaches. So do ask for feedback from your coachee. Besides the positive learning experience for you, it has the extra benefit for improving the relationship. You increase the chances that your coachee will be more open to feedback when s/he is next on the receiving end as feedback is becoming part of the way you interact.
9. Start your performance coaching with a self-evaluation form
I have mentioned before how important it is to begin the coaching process, formal or informal, with a clear definition of what your coachee would like to achieve. Using a self-evaluation form helps this process tremendously.
There are many lists on the internet, or if you can’t find one that suits your needs, build one. With as few as 10 questions you can offer your coachee your first added value.
10. Don’t let the good guys get away
When coaching for performance, you aim to improve certain performance shortcomings of your coachee. But remember, it’s not all bad all of the time. I’m sure you can find several good, even great, behaviors that your coachee possesses. But without the proper attention, she might not be aware of them, or even worse, adds them to the list of behaviors that need to change.
Make sure you identify those positive behaviors and help your coachee leverage them.
It’s a great way to stress the positive and help your coachee reach goals faster by building on existing strengths at the same time.
11. Coach only on first-hand data
When you know the coachee, you probably have more information available. You might, for example, have heard something from a colleague. And I know it’s tempting to use that information, but be aware that using it will often have a negative impact on your coaching relationship – whether the information is correct or not. So stick to what you hear directly from your coachee.
12. Dig deeper = become a high performance coach
Ask your coachee open questions that will make him reflect. You should be able to detect it from their body language such as a pause before answering or a raising of the eyes.
When you ask questions solely from the normal, conscious level of awareness, you may be helping your coachee to structure his thoughts but you are not probing for deeper levels of awareness.
But when your coachee has to really dig deep to find the answer, new awareness is created. And once found, the input becomes conscious and readily available for the coachee to use.
13. Coach or tell?
Whether or not to opt for a coaching approach depends on your situation at a given moment. If timing is the most important criterion in a specific situation, such as in a crisis, doing the job yourself or telling someone exactly what to do is probably your best option.
If quality matters most, you will get the best results with coaching for high awareness and responsibility.
If learning and retention are crucial, coaching is again your best choice.
14. Performance coaching = before you start, ask yourself what you want to get out of it
Don’t confuse or fool yourself by pretending to coach when you are actually doing something different.
If you want to teach, then go and teach.
If you want to sell, then do so.
But don’t use coaching as a means to something other than for what it is intended. It might give you the desired outcome in the short-term but will always backfire and create more problems at a later stage.
15. Understand what makes people tick
There is no need to complete a psychology degree before you can start coaching. But as coaching is all about human interaction, it’s useful to have a basic understanding of what drives human behavior. If you get a better understanding of people dynamics, your coaching skills will improve.
16. Use homework for your coachee
It gives your coachee more time to collect high-quality input and creates responsibility. And it will give you more coaching time and a solid starting base for your next session.
17. Delegate performance coaching
Evaluate carefully the amount of time you allocate to coaching. In some situations you can delegate particular coaching jobs to others.
18. Coach the coach
When delegating a coaching job to someone else, you are stimulating that individual to apply and build their own coaching skills. It further enriches your own coaching practice as you are approaching coaching from a new perspective.
Even after years of performance coaching, I still find it refreshing and rewarding to coach coaches.
19. Don’t feel guilty about providing input
Just because you read somewhere that a coach should not delve into the content, doesn’t mean that you can’t provide some input.
You just need to be careful with your timing and delivery method. A good time to offer your knowledge or experience is when you recognize that the coachee has exhausted all possibilities during the Option phase – the ‘O’ from GROW.
Ask the following question: ‘I have some more options and ideas. Maybe you would like to hear them?’ You can style the question to your liking, but do make sure that it’s clear to your coachee that you are momentarily stepping out of your facilitating role.
When providing your input, make it as short as possible. Try to put it all into one phrase. You don’t want to be talking for the next 10 minutes.
If you have more then one session and know the topic, you can write your tips on paper and get a feeling for the tone and directness of the message. Remember to make it clear to your coachee that your input should be treated in the same way as his own options and ideas.
20. Performance coaching is, “When you don’t know the answer, admit it.”
A no-nonsense approach will help your build a relationship of trust. It is extremely damaging to that relationship to go back on something that you supported during a previous session. If you don’t have the answer, say so and offer to find it by the next session or possibly earlier.
Performance Coaching Quotes – Performance Coaching Process = sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out
21. Two might be better than one
You may find it easier to coach two people at the same time. It might sound strange as, like most people, you probably have the image of performance coaching as a strictly one-to-one process. But it’s rewarding to look beyond that preconception.
I found that coaching two people at the same time can reduce tension and provide a great opportunity for role-playing.
22. Describe versus evaluate
You should use, and encourage your coachee to use descriptive, rather than evaluative words. The more specific and descriptive words and phrases become, the less criticism they tend to carry, and the more productive the coaching will be.
So don’t just tell a speaker his presentation was poor or inadequate – this will only make him feel bad. He wants to know that the presentation was clearly structured, brief but rather monotonous and pitched at too low a level for the audience.
Remember that description adds value, criticism detracts.
23. Coach your boss
You probably won’t get very far by telling your boss what to do. But applying some of the coaching principles and coaching upwards can increase your success rate dramatically.
24. Performance coaching = go back and forth
There are many performance coaching methods. GROW, the best known performance coaching model helps you structure your coaching conversation. It gives a proven, logical sequence to your questions. But even though there is a sequence, you need to go back and forth between the different steps.
You might start with a vague Goal that only becomes clear after examining the Reality in some detail. It will then be necessary to go back and define the Goal more precisely before moving to the Options. Even a clearly defined Goal might prove itself wrong or inappropriate once the Reality is clear.
Similarly, when listing the Options, it’s important to check back if they help to move towards the desired Goal or not.
And finally, before the Will is finalized, it’s crucial to see if the action plan, once realized, achieves the Goal.
25. Don’t over prepare a coaching session
Too much preparation destroys your flexibility. Develop a general road map for your next session rather than a detailed, step-by-step instruction manual.
26. Performance coaching = build your communication skills
These are crucial. Coaching is all about human interaction. Make sure you master a basic communication model. It’s better to have a thorough understanding of one model that you can actually apply in practice rather than have only a theoretical background on a few of them.
27. Don’t strive to put everything into a single coaching session
If your coachee is motivated for the next session, it’s often a first sign that something positive has been put in motion.
28. Just do it
Often your coachee will say something like ‘When I started the presentation I gave a short introduction. Then it all blocked’. Instead of talking about something, I often find it useful to ask the coachee to replay a certain situation. It makes it more concrete and offers a great opportunity to test out some of the Options.
When your coachee is able to do a successful role play exercise, the motivation, self-belief and learning curve receive a huge boost.
29. Performance coaching = provide quick and easy feedback
Here’s a simple but effective feedback method you can use all the time. It’s called LCS – which stands for Like, Concern, Suggestion. Start by saying something you liked, then add your concern and end with one or more suggestions.
Here’s an example: ‘I’m happy you have almost finished reading all these tips. But by only reading them, I’m concerned it will not boost your performance coaching skills as it is more important to actually put them into practice.
So I would suggest picking your three favorite ones and thinking about how best you could use them in the assignment I gave you earlier’.
30. Everything your coachee says is important.
It’s your job to find out how it is important.