Last week we talked about the 4 Stages of Learning. This week we will talk about the 4 things your team needs from you, as a coach, to be unconsciously competent in their performance.
1. The Vision. This is simply crystalizing what they bring to the organization. It is not a mission statement or a daylong seminar. It is helping people see themselves as an integral part of the team. It’s creating a picture of what it looks like when they are “up to speed” and operating at maximum capacity. It is also called “futuring” them. This is not just communicated one time. It is consistently communicating the outcome and anchoring them to something bigger than what is currently happening.
2. The Plan. What exactly is needed for them to be more proficient in their position? What do they need to be better at? What action is needed for their growth? Is it research? Talking to other employees? Studying? Talking to clients? Reading a particular book? Reading internal memos? Taking a class? Attending a seminar? Finding a mentor? Being a mentor? Also, what is a reasonable time line for their learning curve? That should definitely be part of the plan. I’m not talking about a micro-managing plan. I’m talking about a plan with specific touch points over time. Where should they be in 1 month, 3, 6…1 year, etc? Having a plan doesn’t mean it is in stone. The plan can evolve but having a “track to run on” creates security for the people you lead.
3. Repetition. Let’s add feedback as well. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. I heard Cindy Bristow, founder of Softball Excellence, once say “only perfect practice makes perfect.” So true! If you don’t meet regularly with your people and give them the feedback, they will just get better and doing it wrong. You must provide constructive criticism and have the crucial conversations needed to move people to stage 4. Learning the art of crucial conversations is a skill that must be learned by great coaches. Telling your people the truth about their performance, and being consistent with your counsel, is non-negotiable. Coaches that dodge tough conversations can seldom get the most out of the potential of their team.
4. Lastly, you must be a cheerleader. What? You didn’t sign up to be a cheerleader? You don’t have the time, energy, or the patience to get people up to speed? Then you have 2 options. 1. Surround yourself with very competent people that can serve as a buffer and help you or 2. Continue to lose great people to other opportunities. I know this might seem harsh but the most important job of a leader is to develop other people. Spending time helping other people grow in their position is the true job description of leadership. The payoff? Parlaying your knowledge and finding the right people that will be able to grow the company or team has infinite possibilities. It will provide exponential growth. Not doing it, is one of the reasons leaders and companies fail.
This is what your people need. Some of you can provide all 4 and some of you will hire it out. It matters not, which one you do….as long as you make sure the people on your team get all 4. Which one are you best at? Which one will you start working on? The answer to that question is the difference between cultivating mediocre and top performing people.
Excerpt from the Best Selling Book….”What Exceptional Leaders Know”, co-authored with Wally Schmader