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Business managers could take queues from the sporting world, (perhaps forgoing the Gatorade showers after the big meeting) but like their coaching counterparts the more successful managers realize that they’re not just managing groups of people, but rather coaching people that make up dynamic and effective teams.

The world’s best sports coaches develop each team member to reach their full potential, while simultaneously pushing the entire team to success. Likewise, good business managers realize managing or coaching ‘through their teams’ can help their own teams to be more successful.

Effective coaches observe and understand the social dynamics of their teams, as well as the individual skills & strengths of each of the team members, and then guide these strengths and social bonds to come together with shared goals and purposes. This elevates a team’s engagement & performance, as well as its company’s bottom line.

Team standings
A 2012 study by Bersin & Associates concluded that managers who regularly utilized a coaching management style improved business results by more than 21 percent as compared to those who do not use this type of management training and development. Another study completed in 2008 by Insurance Australia Group NZ showed that coaching increased engagement by employees by fifty percent and decreased turnover by half; and the coaching initiative turned a near-certain loss into a profitable year.

Game plan, purpose & goal setting
Check out your lineup! The first step for effective coaching is to take stock of where you are now: what does your team look like? What are the individual strengths and skills of team members and how are they complimentary. What core skills need further development? What remains to be taught? Next, decide what skills have the greatest impact on the team’s bottom line. Measure the current state of those skills, and plan how to support change management.

Getting HR management to buy-in to coaching techniques is crucial to success; by championing the cause, HR managers bring needed leadership and support, rather than becoming an obstacle to be avoided.

With your employees, help guide them in deciding and agreeing on a mutual sense of purpose, as this is what pulls people together and creates that special ‘team effect.’ However the next crucial step is making sure they set tangible goals based on that purpose.

But don’t impose and command. Your job as coach is to “guide” the employees and their team in deciding, as a team can’t be created by decree – not that you can’t suggest, support, define, hold accountable and help point them in the right direction. But a team’s commitment, engagement and subsequent effectiveness will be so much higher if the members all take part in these ‘mutual agreements.’

Play ball
Coaching best practices are quickly changing communications within the team. Open-ended questions are the new norm. Asking questions like, “How are you planning to handle this?” or “How can I help?” will help your employee to think through the situation and come up with solutions. As coach your role is to help your team learn and develop, rather than telling them exactly what to do. John Madden once said, “The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break,” so help guide your team members, but also empower them to own their goals and priorities.

Always be “in the moment.” Coaches don’t wait until the season is over, or even until the end of the game when behavior needs addressed, and neither should you. Remember, your job is to guide them along their previously designed path.

Managers in coaching roles should continually teach as they work with employees. The goal is to make them self-sufficient by giving them the tools needed for success, as well as adequate support.

Give appropriate and constructive feedback; and be sure that the employee understands. Ask those crucial clarifying questions, like “What else do you need from me?” or “When do you think you can have this project completed?”

Winning strategy
Support each employee as he or she works through the steps to reach your shared goals. Your employee may come to you for guidance on a situation, but already have their own idea of how to handle things. When you respond to their request with, “What do you think is the best way to handle it?” their confidence will soar!

Great coaches inspire their teams to great achievements; they demand excellence and gain the respect of their team while guiding them along a focused path. The organization’s bottom line will increase, and so will your individual value once you become known as a coach and a manager.