Admitting a vulnerability can be downright uncomfortable to do as a manager. One reason I often discuss these issues openly is to help other managers see these potential blind spots. Another is to display humility and focus on self improvement. Today's blog is no different: The goal in sharing this challenge is to help you, as a manager, realize the importance of having one-on-one coaching sessions with each member of your team. Also, to help you understand how these interactions will affect your employees, company, and career.
As a young sales manager I never had enough time to accomplish all the things I wanted to do on a daily basis. I wanted to sit down with each team member and allow time for feedback around their efforts. Ideally, I wanted to have time to discover their goals and focus on strategic business planning to achieve them. In my world this wasn’t possible. My intentions to do these things were there, but I had many reasons or excuses to not take action. I would run out of time because I was cleaning up after my employees, putting out fires, and solving problems for them. This was in addition to all the paperwork, reports, meetings, client interaction, tasks, and other activities that were required of anyone in an upper management role.
Eventually, my eyes were opened to the benefits of performance coaching. [blockquote-left]I realized how powerful the activity can be for both parties involved if done regularly and properly.[/blockquote-left]I still had so much going on all the time, I couldn't squeeze in these intimate meetings with everyone on my team. I downplayed its importance because I just had to get everything else done first.
In my opinion, I was doing a mediocre job of holding myself, and my team, accountable to meet regularly. Though, as my coach put it, I was “successful in spite of myself", something else was missing. The missing factor was identified with a single sentence I read in a book. The name of the book was called, "The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results," by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The book asked, "What's the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
It didn’t take long for me to connect the two, coaching and focused intention. After some deliberation around this question I made a decision. If I make coaching one-on-one with my entire team my “one thing” , everything else would be easier or unnecessary". They would grow into the type of employees that could solve their own problems by thinking things through and taking ownership. My team would prevent fires from starting by developing their customer service and communication skills. They would develop business plans that would ensure they hit or exceed their goals. I would help them care for their plans long term, and be an accountability partner for them along the way. By making performance coaching my, one thing, I would improve my team, crush barriers to success, and help my company reach new heights. I made a decision, and committed to make the time for one-on-one development for myself and my team.
11 Positive Results From Our Time Spent Coaching
I started spending at least 15 plus hours each month coaching with my team. Here are some of the results, as stated by my employees themselves. These are just a few of the hundreds of remarks and coaching wins we have celebrated over the past couple years.
1. Coaching Creates Confidence
"It feels great to know that I am doing the activities that will lead to my success each week." “I love being apart of the winning team!” and “It’s amazing being able to communicate effectively with my CEO. What a relief!”
2. Coaching Helps Employees Grow
"I know I'm moving my career in the right direction." and “I’ve hit all my professional goals this year! I can't wait to see where I end up next year!”
3. Coaching Fosters Accountability
"I did say I would do that moving forward and I didn’t this time. I own my mistake." “I give myself a ten on staying accountable for my actions this month.”
4. Coaching Defines Purpose
"I used to sell for the money, now I realize there are so many more important things to sell for."
5. Coaching Initiates Autonomy
"I don’t feel I need to ask you for every answer anymore, I know how to figure things out on my own and I ask myself WWSD (What Would Sean Do?).” This one got a chuckle out of me, as I have said the same thing about my coach.
6. Coaching Inspires Mastery
"I am getting better at my job. The book I just read helped me improve my internet sales process. I sold 7 more units this month than my best month ever!”
7. Coaching Generates Accomplishment
"I've never made this much money in my life. I'll never go back to salary work again!" and “Thank you for helping me get to this point in my career. Its truly a pleasure working with you.”
8. Coaching Gives Fulfillment
"I sold 2 units today! I love my job." and “Only in this office could we have this kind of fun! I really love coming to work each day.”
9. Coaching Lowers Turnover
When I spent time with my employees in a one-on-one environment, they see I care, which helps them feel appreciated. In addition, we solve problems together and make plans that help them reach their sales quotas which in turn help them hit personal financial goals. People meeting sales quotas feel more fulfilled and accomplished; thus, tend to stay on their job longer. Having less than three sales people quit, while promoting seven and hiring six in over a year at a top producing automotive dealership is quite a success story.
10. Coaching Increases Sales and Profit
Our employees are stepping out of their comfort zones to do things they may have never tried alone. They know their managers are here if they need us, but they can do what they need to achieve the results they desire. All the benefits my team sees, I see. As their leader, their success is my success. I feel their victories and wins, and they are addicting!
11. Coaching Lowers Leadership Stress
Since understanding and knowing each member of your team is synonymous with one-on-one coaching. Knowing what makes each member tick, and how to best motivate and inspire them takes a lot of stress off your plate. You will be able to effectively generate buy in around the activities which will help each team member be successful. Less repeating yourself or forcing your hand for action lowers your blood pressure! Maintaining a pulse on your employee's satisfaction levels also comes with coaching. This awareness can prevent costly miscommunication and frustration among your team: also lowering stress.
Did Regimented One-on-One Coaching Free Up My Time?
No, it sure didn’t! The ironic part of the entire shift in mindset and action, was in having regular one-on-one coaching sessions with my entire team, it didn’t free up my time at all. It did however, change the activities I was forced to partake in. I spend less time putting out fires and answering questions that someone could self discover. I don’t need to babysit simple processes as much. I don’t need to spend time replacing people that quit anymore, since very few people we coach regularly quit.
Instead of spending my time on these activities, I’ve replaced them with working out more deals for the increased sales. I spend more time chatting with the additional customers that my sales team brings in. I recruit, hire, and train new people in order to grow and keep up with the increase in sales. I enjoy spending more time cultivating leaders for my company. I spend time sourcing and managing a larger inventory for the increased sales volume.
In the end I learned a valuable lesson. No matter what, life in business and management is going to be crazy and challenging. You're always going to be busy and will eternally have a full buffet of tasks and activities to dine on from bell-to-bell. The question is: Would you rather be proactive and spend your time doing the activities that help people grow, produce results, help your company succeed, and build a culture of employees that are drawn to their goals? Or, will you forgo the coaching and spend your time living in reactive mode? As a result you will spend more time cleaning up after mistakes, putting out fires, rebuilding after employees consistently quit, repeatedly need to fire people for under performance, push people to mediocrity, and watch your employees struggle to reach objectives, if you even know what those are with this choice. Both paths are busy, and contain some degree of stress. Either choice will require intense focused effort, and actions on your part to navigate. In contrast, one feels great and helps others, while the other may feel frustrating or even tumultuous at times. It's a a choice between focused intention and growth versus random environmental reactivity.
Take a page from my book. Make the time for regular one-on-one coaching sessions with each member of your team. Learn how to do this effectively, make the appointments and stick to them. It will change your life and your team members lives. Every time you conduct this critical activity, you will learn something and grow from it. If you refuse, at the very least hire someone to coach your individual team members. In doing so, you will spend more time doing the activities that fulfill your career, create success, and energize you.