Coaching Techniques That Inspire Your People to Improve


If you’ve ever tried to coach someone to stop doing a particular behavior or to change a certain action, then you know how difficult it can be to get adults to alter their ways.


In fact, the natural tendency for most people is to defend their existing behavior, no matter how disruptive or self-sabotaging it is. If you really want to motivate someone to go to their own next level, then you have to do so in an authentic way, with positive, solutions-oriented language.


Here are some coaching techniques that inspire people to improve:


Coach the positive rather than critique the negative. In order to build your professionals to their own next level, you need to first identify what you want that person to achieve. Once you have determined the positive behavior, you can then determine the skill sets that can build the person to the desired outcome.


For example, in a selling situation, most new salespeople will naturally want to tell all they know about their company. In the midst of all their talking, they neglect to ask the prospect open-ended questions that prompt dialog and encourage the prospect to reveal wants and needs.


In order to get the salesperson to change his or her approach, a typical manager might say, “In that last call I noticed that you did most of the talking and then ran out of time to ask questions. Do you really feel you know what the prospect needs?” This kind of feedback focuses on the negative first, which could result in the employee shutting down prior to hearing your suggestions.


A better approach, and one that will motivate the salesperson to be more open to change, is to say, “For the next call, let’s talk about how we can facilitate more discussion with the client.”


Some other lead-in statements you could use are:


  • Let’s have you experiment with this process…
  • Let’s talk about taking you to your own next level…
  • Let’s discuss how we can engage the customer to create more conversation…


After the salesperson hears your willingness to build their skills, then you can give specific suggestions to help them facilitate discussion with their client. Keep it positive so they are motivated to listen to your advice.


Ask the other person what he or she needs to learn. Asking people for their input regarding their own performance engages them about skill sets they want to fine tune and potentially learn.


After you ask someone what he or she would like to improve, have the person clarify in two or three statements some very specific things they would like to learn. This enables you to get agreement that change and improvement are necessary. Next, have the person prioritize what he or she feels the most pressing learning objective(s) should be. Then, give some coaching tips and learning ideas so the person feels they have some power in the learning process. Now you’re empowering the learner to have a say in their own change.


Focus on the future. During your discussions with the person, always talk about “next time.” Never go back and recreate the bad situation. For example, with the person who becomes defensive during meetings, rather than point out when he or she became defensive, you could say, “Next time, when you find that you’re getting in a defensive conversation with someone, immediately put on your facilitation hat. At that moment, stop defending your position and start asking questions.”


By using these coaching techniques on a regular basis, you will motivate and inspire people to improve. By providing feedback with positive language, people will look forward to your coaching sessions. When that happens, you’ll have professionals eager to change and achieve to their own next level of performance.


These techniques will help you be a better coach and therefore take your professionals to their own next level.

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