"I didn't want a big play once in a while, I wanted solid play every time."
-- John Madden, former head coach of the Oakland Raiders
In business we are often reminded that when it comes to coaching and teamwork, the company can be viewed as a sports team. A winning team in business demands exactly what is demanded on the playing field.
Lou Holtz, former head coach of the Notre Dame football team, had this to say about coaching: "I don't think discipline is forcing someone to do something. It's showing them how this is going to help them in the long run."
The best managers are coaches -- that is, individuals who guide, nurture, reward and encourage others on their journey. A coach is a colleague, mentor, counselor and cheerleader, all rolled into one.
Coaching doesn't center on fixing problem behaviors -- it's about cultivating people's capabilities. It isn't an occasional conversation -- it's a continuous process. Coaches don't develop people -- they equip people to develop themselves.
Coaching a team of individuals is not easy. The following strategies can help you be a better coach:
* Forge a partnership. Build trust so teammates will be more willing to hear and act on what you and others have to say. Build understanding so that you both will know what matters to each other. Use this strategy when people don't believe you care about them, their needs or their success.
* Inspire commitment. Build commitment to success by helping teammates understand the payback from personal development and working as a team toward organizational objectives. Use this strategy when people don't understand their development needs or don't make them a priority.
* Grow skills. Build new competencies to ensure that teammates know how to do their jobs. Once you know what a person needs to be successful, help them find the best ways to acquire those skills. Use this strategy when people don't know how to learn the required skills.
* Shape the clubhouse. Build organizational support to reward teammates and remove barriers to success. Change is easier when the organization's values and rewards are aligned with coaching and development. Use this strategy when people don't see organizational incentives for developing themselves and others.
* Promote persistence. Build stamina and discipline to make sure development lasts on the job. People require daily effort to change old habits and put new behaviors into action. Help them persist until their new behaviors become natural. Use this strategy when people don't apply what they have learned to create real change on the job.
Developing teammates is not optional. It is a necessity on the playing field as well as in business. With the help of good coaches, teammates can achieve outstanding results, and the organization can have that competitive edge needed for a winning record.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at email@example.com.