Coaching is an important step to improving performance. Whether you’re an athlete, a performer or a business professional, coaching inspires you to work your hardest, to push beyond your limits and to achieve your goals. Effective coaching builds competence and confidence. The best coaches help people find ways to make things happen as opposed to creating excuses why they can’t.

Effective coaching also requires you to believe in yourself. You need to believe that you can have an impact in the workplace, and that you can inspire others to achieve their goals they might not otherwise achieve.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we are sharing three ways to help you become a better coach to others and improve your leadership skills from executive leadership coach, Jeff Foley.

1. Create a positive and open environment for communication. People listen to and follow leaders they trust. They engage in meaningful dialog with people they trust. They are not afraid to disagree with people they trust. Trust provides the foundation for a positive and open communication environment where connections between people can thrive. Knowing your people also reduces the probability of promoting someone into a management position who does not want it or is not otherwise qualified. Not all salespeople want to be sales managers. The costs can be exorbitant to an organization that wrongly promotes someone into a management position.

There are four questions that can help you establish this open line of communication: What is on your mind? What can I do for you? What do you think? How am I making your life more difficult? When asked with the genuine interest, people respond with more honesty.

Meeting with your people regularly helps break down barriers—not just in your office, but on the manufacturing floor, on a sales ride, in the cafeteria or the warehouse. Talk to folks outside the work area. The informal sessions can be wonderful enablers to open the line of communication.

2. Establish agreed upon goals and strategies to achieve. Most people want to know what success looks like. They want to be clear in their goals as individuals and, if appropriate, the as team leaders. Having well-defined, measurable, relevant goals on paper help people gain clarity for what success looks like for them.

Success also includes coaching to help reach their goals. Strategies are developed and agreed upon by the manager and team member so that both understand each other’s roles. The probability of success increases dramatically when strategies and accountabilities are well defined.

3. Enforce accountability by assessing performance. There are many and significant consequences when people are not held accountable for achieving goals or otherwise performing to standard. Integrity disappears. Discipline erodes. Morale evaporates. Leaders are not taken seriously. Problem employees become a cancer in the organization. The best people leave. Results are not achieved.

Effective coaching demands assessment of performance. Without this assessment, no system of accountability will be achieved. If the senior leader does not hold his or her executive team accountable, subordinate leaders are likely to think “Why should I?” Consistent, regularly scheduled coaching sessions with your people are the key to ensuring effective follow-up assessments to celebrate successes and identify areas to improve.

What does a coaching session look like? Read more in tomorrow’s issue of PCT.

Source: Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served 32 years in the U.S. Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Foley uses his singular insight to build better leaders.