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Business Coaching is the Wheel that Steers the Ship

Jason Kerluck, I'll Take Little Sales All Day Long, Being Store Manager - Like Being Captain of a Ship, Lack of Capacity & Capability, Business Coaching

Business Coaching is the Wheel that Steers the Ship

To borrow a nautical metaphor, think of your staff as a fleet of ships on the ocean…moving together to a common goal. Your initial training is the first part of setting your staff on the right course. And for a while, all might move together as one. But, if left unattended, your staff will naturally begin to drift off course. It’s just human nature.

This isn’t news to anyone who has managed staff before. Every Store Manager, District Manager, and Regional manager knows that a good Training Program is nothing without being followed up by a strong business coaching program. The initial training we do gets the ship out to sea….while our coaching is the wheel that steers the “ship”.

However, what we often fall far short on is maintaining Continuous Coaching.Without continuous coaching, their ship will simply start to drift again and take them to places you’d rather they not be. Persistent and Constructive, continuous business coaching keeps them running with the fleet.

That coaching has to seek a result and be clearly given. Too often, when coaching is done, we see examples of coaching that makes a nice positive statement, followed by something minor that could have been done differently. While this is only slightly better than no coaching at all, it’s really the kind of coaching that should be done “On the Fly”. This is more like saying “You’re off course…”, instead of letting them know how many degrees they need to turn.

A better style of business coaching presents the employee data that shows where they are in terms of their metrics. It and sets performance improvement goals. It tells them where they are in relation to the needs to the business, and helps them change course. The best goals to set for them are based on the concept of S.M.A.R.T.. Creating realistic expectations with a clear timeline is a much more effective means of effecting change.

Not all staff are equally matched in term of ability and capability. Your “fleet” is made of of many different skills and attributes. And as a manager, you must learn to identify where they are struggling. There are some that will never keep up, and have to be let go. However, even that would be hard to identify without continuous coaching.

For the “Captain” coaching is a lot like reading a map. You figure out where they are, and where they need to be. Then you figure out how to get them there. Your coaching is the direction they need to keep up with the fleet. It is also your way of knowing if they belong in it in the first place. We must be vigilant in making sure that we identify when they stray from the course and act promptly. Only then will you be able to get where you want your business to be.

Here’s to clear sailing!