How To Coach Your Work Team Members

Boss coaching employee
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How do you coach your work team? You don't - you coach the individual members of the team. It is important to remember that everyone on your team is an individual with individual strengths and weaknesses. If you want to get the best performance out of your team, you have to coach them as individuals.

Coach Them As Individuals

Each member of your team is unique. You have to coach them that way. And they will all react differently toward you and whatever coaching you offer.

Even if two people have the same problem, you may need to come up with a different coaching solution for each of them. You want to be fair as you deal with all your employees, but treating them all the same just won't work.

Coaching Up Front

You want to make sure your employees are properly trained before they start a job. Before you put someone on the phones taking customer calls, you want to make sure they know how to handle most calls and what to do when they encounter one they can't handle. Before you let a machine operator produce finished products for sale, you want to be sure they know how to operate the machine and what is expected of the parts they produce.

In situations like these, you start by giving them time to practice. You let the telephone representative listen to a seasoned person in the same job and let them take practice calls on their own. You give the machine operator simple parts to start with and some practice blanks to work with first.

It's during these training sessions that you start coaching - along with the training.

As you coach them during the training period, some of the things you work with them on are:

  • What is expected of them
    For example, you don't expect them to takes as many calls as the senior telephone representatives, but you do expect them to handle a certain amount. And you expect that number to keep getting larger.
  • Common mistakes
    What mistakes do people usually make, why, and how can they avoid making the same mistake?
  • Tips and tricks
    What are some of the things you've learned over time that will help them get better faster? For instance, if you keep your blanks to the left of the machine (for a right-handed operator) you can carefully place the finished part on the tray for the next station with your right hand while using your left hand to slide the next part toward the machine.

Ongoing Coaching

After they have completed their training, you continue to coach. Share with them things that can help them get better and remind them how to avoid the things that are slowing them down or lowering their quality. Remember that this coaching has a goal. You're not coaching just to pass the time. The reason you are doing the coaching is so their performance improves, both as an individual and as a member of your team.

Coaching After An Event

Mistakes are going to happen. A part will get machined to the wrong tolerance and not fit into the assembly at the next station. A telephone representative will give a customer a wrong answer that causes them to threaten a lawsuit. When these happen, it is important for you as the manager to first of all fix the problem and secondly coach the individual.

As you coach them, you want to remind them of the correct procedure or answer. If you've discussed this with them before, that needs to be pointed out. Stay positive. You want to tell them, or reiterate, your tips on how to avoid this kind of error in the future. You need to ask them and be sure that they understand what they did wrong and how to avoid it. Most of all, however, you need to not demotivate them. You want them, after your coaching session, to be fired up to go out and do better, not cowering at their desk afraid to do anything.

Bottom Line

Coaching is a very powerful tool a manager can use to improve the performance of their team.

You coach each individual on the team as an individual, but also as a member of the team. Coach them ahead of time so they are prepared. Coach them as time goes on so they continue to improve. And coach them when they make a mistake. Be positive and motivating and they will improve the team's performance through their own improvement.