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Leaders tend to use the terms “management” and “coaching” interchangeably, but the two concepts differ in their approach.

Management is largely concerned with a leader’s direct control or supervision towards a general objective, like ordering an employee to be more punctual.

Coaching, on the other hand, is about guiding and supporting employees towards specific objectives or tasks. A leader may coach the employee to be more punctual by training them to prepare ahead of time.

Both leadership skills have their benefits, but coaching remains one of the most effective ways to motivate and educate a team towards better work performance. Here are a few coaching tips for every entrepreneur.


Ask Questions

Leaders don’t always have all the answers. In fact, leaders avoid risk best when they are able to stay curious and open-minded.

Instead of prescribing solutions, take the time to understand your team’s perspective. What are their most important goals? What are their biggest challenges? These two questions alone can open up conversations that lead to deeper, more personal insights.

For example, an underperforming employee may be suffering burnout from raising a newborn, and not because they are lazy. Gaining this new perspective helps leaders create tailored solutions and suggestions for each person.


Build Trust

Change comes from commitment, and commitment comes from trust. Leaders place trust in their team to accomplish their tasks, while team members place trust in their leader to provide the necessary training, resources, and direction to achieve those tasks.

In coaching, there’s a deeper level of trust involved as well. Before a leader can ask cooperation, they must first truly understand their team’s perspectives.
Often times, business leaders overlook the personal lives of their team members. But without an understanding of the person behind the desk, leaders may notice a lack of agency or follow through with their team assignments.

Read our post on building customer trust, as the same principles may apply to your own team.


Set Expectations

Every task needs a goal, and a way to measure success. Each leader should ensure that expectations are clearly defined for every individual. When this mutual understanding is clear to both parties, it’s much easier to track progress and hold people accountable.

It’s not enough to assign a report. Leaders need to ensure they impose due dates, requirements, and other guardrails to foster success. Without expectations in place, employees can easily miss important deadlines or submit poor-quality work.


Empower Your Team

Leaders wield a lot of power, but when that power is shared with the rest of the team, some spectacular results can occur.

Empower your team members to become leaders themselves. Not only does this lead to more creative solutions, but it encourages the workforce to become more autonomous.

The next time someone brings up a potential issue with a client, encourage them to brainstorm their own solutions to bring to you. Instead of just giving them the answer, it helps build their problem-solving skills in a real-world dilemma, while freeing up upper management’s time to focus on greater issues.


Provide Feedback

Employees can’t execute better or worse until they know how they’re currently performing. Create feedback loops: assign, evaluate, provide feedback, and repeat. Over enough time, employees will use feedback to improve on positive behavior, while limiting their negative behavior.

Hold employees accountable. Not every task should be rewarded, in fact, some perform better after learning the hard way.

Read our previous blog post on communicating with your team.


The Path To Improvement

Coaching is not a project or initiative that can be neatly outlined. It’s a journey: a series of steps taken by both the leader and the team member towards more successful performance. Don’t expect a playbook or a step-by-step guide, because the reality is a lot more abstract and varies from case to case.

The most important takeaway for leaders is to understand that employees are not robots that complete tasks on autopilot. They are just ordinary people that sometimes require a little guidance in their behavior before they can achieve their fullest potential.

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