Put Me in, Coach!

Norb Slowikowski / October 2019

Put me in coach. I’m ready to play today.
Put me in coach. I’m ready to play today.
Look at me, I can be, centerfield.


The great lyrics of John Fogerty’s song “Centerfield” don’t just apply to baseball. The enthusiasm behind the words can and should apply to the people you work with every day.

One great way to ensure maximum productivity from your employees is to use coaching as a tool to accountability and success. Effective coaching always results in one or more positive changes in performance. There are various functions of the coaching experience:

Counselor
Dealing with personal problems of employees in a trust situation where your employee has the feeling the freedom to self-disclose what he or she might be struggling with in his/her personal life that is spilling over into the workday.

Mentor
Acting as a role model to help employees gain an understanding of the career opportunities that are offered at your place of business, and what your expectations are for the employee to meet the standards to get ahead on his or her career ladder.

Confrontation
Dealing with barriers or problems that affect productivity and non-performance challenges. This applies to the employee that you have given several chances to get something right. Sometimes accountability involves negative consequences to help change negative behavior.

Tutor
Acting as a true teacher to help your people learn new skills or subject matter regarding their daily interactions on the job.

Successful coaching involves the following tenets:

Shared Goals
Making the most of what the employee and manager both know to come to consensus.

Build Respect
Open, honest communication from both parties. Knowing that disagreement is OK as long as gaining an understanding of each other’s needs is the goal.

Problem-Focus
Fix job performance, not the person. Clearly discuss what the employee is lacking on the job. Being truthful about the difference between what is and what is desired.

Change Orientation
Find specific ways to help employees improve performance, and truly change negative behavior.

Consequences to Actions
Administer discipline for poor performance when ongoing coaching has not been successful. Deliver the appropriate consequence for lack of good work on the job.

Appreciation
Provide positive feedback and sincere appreciation for good work and progress. People must know that their efforts really matter to you and the bottom line.

Know that effective coaching is a developmental process. It takes time to develop your people, and you need to be in tune with their needs and the needs of the company. To keep moving on the optimal coaching path requires the following:

  • Mutual trust, competence and patience.
  • Active listening and understanding where the person is coming from.
  • Be visible and accessible to your people—you never know when they might need your support.
  • Master the art of calm. When you are calm, you are more approachable.
  • Let your employee vent about the things that are bothering him/her.
  • Be firm with your expectations. People need to know where you draw the line so they know not to cross it.
  • Stay positive even when delivering negative consequences.
  • Remember to always celebrate success.

As the head coach, you will set the proper tone for your team. Good coaches will always try to keep their employees moving in a positive direction for a chance at big wins for the whole team.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill. To contact him, email norbslow2@gmail.com.