You’re a business owner, but you are so much more. You have probably never thought of yourself as a coach. Have you been in a situation where you have advised or encouraged someone?
As a business owner, you are in a position to help your team learn and grow in the challenges of work.
Going through the process of systemising your business has its challenges and I’ve written about these challenges in depth specifically the challenges of incorporating new and improved processes into your business and dealing with resistance to change.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. It may take a combination of strategies to help your team to love the systems and change their habits and behaviour.
One strategy that stands the test of time when facing any challenge is solving problems through a coaching approach. To take some feathers out of the coaches hat, here are the key skills to coaching:
- Ability to listen
- Provide encouragement
- Give praise
- Give constructive feedback
- Lead by example
- Ability to encourage solution thinking
- Learn from mistakes
- Hold accountable
How to coach more effectively
Let’s take a deep dive and see how we can apply each skill to assist with user adoption of systems and processes.
When your team are trying to tell you something, or you have provided the opportunity for open communication, you need to make sure that you actually understand what is being said. Follow these tips to really listen:
- Be aware of when it’s time to actually stop conversing and start listening
- Understand why and how the person is telling you something
- Interpret verbal and nonverbal messages
- Convey back your understanding of the situation
- Focus your full attention on the person talking and don’t interrupt
- Encourage the person to keep talking until you have fully understood the message
- Encourage the person to “own the problem”
Sometimes in the minds of your team, a challenge such as following the processes and procedures can be troubling, unrealistic, not worthwhile and negative. With so many changes happening in a short space of time, they can easily lose sight of the positive aspects of systemisation. Encouragement from their leader can play a very strong and impactful role in getting over the hurdle.
Follow these tips to help you provide encouragement:
- Listen to their challenges and learn exactly what is going on for them
- Remind them of their strengths and past achievements
- Help them to recognise the positives, possibilities and opportunities with the changes
- Support them by instilling your trust and confidence in them
- Provide help and resources where needed
Most of the time your team enjoy what they do and want to do the best job they can. With the day to day monotony of work, so often their efforts go unnoticed. Noticing little things every now and then will go a long way to make your team feel appreciated.
Here are some guidelines to follow when giving praise:
- Be specific
- Be sincere
- Give praise immediately
- Give unexpected praise for more impact
- Share the praise, let other team members know
- Create a culture of recognition
- Take into account personalities when praising
Recognising effort and achievement may be all that is needed to get a higher rate of process adoption. Don’t expect everyone to adapt overnight to changes in the business and the more changes you introduce, the longer it takes to get everyone onboard and comfortable.
Recognise and even reward those who are making the biggest effort. Consider going one step further and adopt gamification tactics to add a bit of fun and competition.
Give Constructive Feedback
When we get busy and bury our heads in work, we can often lose sight of the big picture. What might be at the top of your priority list may not be on the top of your team’s list. Your team may think they are on the right track and not be aware of your expectations.
In the case of introducing new systems and processes, it’s crucial that your team understand the importance of following these systems and the consequences if they don’t.
If a member of your team is pushing back and reverting to the old habits, try the following:
- Be positive about something they have done before giving constructive feedback
- Be specific about the unacceptable behaviour or action
- Address one issue at a time
- Give feedback promptly, strike while it is hot
- Only address issues that the person can actually do something about
- Express how the unacceptable behaviour makes you feel
- Describe the impact of the unacceptable behaviour
- Reinstate the behaviour expectation
- Offer support
- Keep it private
Lead By Example
Leading by example will always give you the best chance of succeeding. Your team are watching you, they are watching how you meet the challenges and adapt to changes.
It’s difficult to resent leaders who roll up their sleeves and get on with it when they need to and who are prepared to share the same sacrifices their teams have to.
Here are some ways you can lead by example:
- Take calculated risks that demonstrate a commitment
- Show honesty and be truthful
- Take responsibility
- Acknowledge failure
- Be persistent, keep trying and moving obstacles out of the way
- Stay balanced – don’t overwork, get easily stressed and lose your temper
- Roll up your sleeves and lead your team into battle
- Display your core strengths daily
Leading by example is a key component of getting your team to follow your systems. When things get tough, it doesn’t take much for the team to revert back to the old ways of working. If they see their leader making an effort despite the temptation to cut corners, they will be more likely to get inspired to do the same.
When you are in a position of leadership, you have the responsibility to your team. They look to you for guidance and strength. Expecting your team to do something that you aren’t prepared to do yourself is double standards, plain and simple.
Having a vision and making it happen isn’t easy, you don’t want your efforts to go to waste, all because your team didn’t trust you. It takes a firm commitment and strength of character to do the right thing at the right time and doing what you say. If your team can see your commitment, they’ll be more likely to work hard to help you achieve your goal.
If you implement new processes for the business, then follow those processes just as closely as you expect everyone else to follow them. For example, if the new process is to use the project management tool to assign tasks, then don’t ask someone to do something by email. You’ll be seen as not committed, and your team may become frustrated and start to disobey you.
Encourage Solution Thinking
When people work through their issues, they usually come up with solutions and are more confident in their ability to deal with challenges.
Resist the temptation to solve their problem or give them advice. Here are some questions to help encourage solution thinking:
- How do you feel about ________ (challenge)?
- What do you believe is the problem?
- How much does this matter to you?
- What are you thinking?
- What is your opinion?
- What ideas do you have?
- What are some ways you can think of to resolve this?
- What would you like to see happen?
- Is this something you are willing to do?
- What could you do to improve the situation?
- What would happen if you do that?
- What do you need to make this happen?
- What would be the best outcome for you?
- What support do you need from me?
The first thing we are trying to do is get the person to own the problem. Allow them to express themselves and refrain from intervening with your own solutions. Respect their views even if you do not entirely agree with them. Guide them rather than force your views on them. Always provide encouragement and support to get through the challenges.
Knowing that you are listening to them is half the battle, they feel that they are being taken seriously and when they feel that way, naturally, they are more willing to work through the issues and challenges.
Learn From Mistakes
There is a learning opportunity in every mistake. Systemising your business will help avoid mistakes but we are all human and mistakes can be made no matter how good our systems and processes are. In business, we can, in general, categorise a mistake as either a people problem or a process problem. Either way, we can gain valuable insight and learn from the mistake.
When something goes wrong, here are some questions we can ask:
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- What were the consequences?
- In a similar situation in the future, what will you do differently?
- What do we actually do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
- What have we learnt?
When mistakes happen, don’t lecture, let those concerned provide the answers. If a process is in place, it should be easy to spot the source of the problem. Make sure those responsible can clearly see what and how the mistake happened.
Encourage your teams input into the solutions and back them up providing guidance where necessary.
The hard part of implementing any change is setting aside old habits. The more you apply a skill, the easier it will get to do it right. Each time you consciously use one of the coaching skills, concentrate on improving one aspect. With enough practice, the skill will begin to feel natural, which means that you’ll use the skill automatically, without trying.
It takes a lot of commitment and effort to learn a new skill or change an aspect of behaviour. Knowing that you will be held accountable is a motivator to follow through. Progress inspires more progress. We like to see indicators that we are making progress and on the right track.
For your team to be held accountable for using the systems, first make sure they understand how you will monitor their compliance. Here are some guidelines:
- Communicate clearly what it is they are being held accountable for and why
- Decide how you will measure results
- Ask accountability questions
- Commit to timelines for results
- Follow through on commitments you make
- When a person fails to get the results, listen to why
- When a person succeeds, give praise
- Never patronise or judge, always encourage
Putting It All Together
If you can display some or most of these coaching skills you’ll be creating a culture of respect and learning and importantly a workplace where your team feel understood and appreciated. By taking the time to listed and “coach” your team, you’ll be better equipped to meet the challenges you face daily in the workplace.
If you haven’t read my previous articles on the subject of getting your team to follow the systems and processes, that’s a great place to start. Combining positive enforcement, gamification and coaching, you’ll have the secret weapon to handle any resistance or opposition to change in your business.
For more information on systemising your business, book a Systems Success call with Wendy and find out how you can get your business on track for growth.