Retail Observer

October 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM OCTOBER 2014 42 Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. RO C oaching cultures have become more popular and effective in the past 15 years. Employees can learn to coach each other (peers), supervisors and managers can coach subordinates, and owners and CEOs can coach high performing teams. The primary tool or mechanism for coaching performance is the One-on-One meeting, or a coaching conversation. This time (20-30 minutes max) should be focused on performance (rather than day- to-day issues, check-ins or fire-fighting) and at Influencing Options, we find that dividing our time into four separate and simple topics is the most effective and most proactive way to coach performance. 1. First, identify some element of this employee's performance that is positive, effective and desirable. Take time to specifically identify what they did, what the impact was on the team or project, or even their working relationships with co-workers or customers. Be really specific. You want to not only show your genuineness for what you are recognizing (by being really specific about it), you want to reinforce behaviors and practices that you'd like to see them repeat. Take time here to praise, recognize and identify what's going well. Be specific—I know I already said that, but it's really important! If you're not specific, it is likely the employee will not only doubt your sincerity, but will doubt your true understanding of his/her work. 2. Second, identify some element of this employee's performance you'd like to see improved, changed, or developed. If you feel like this person has lots of room for improvement, handing them a list of 25 things is completely ineffective and a daunting task. Pick the one thing that is either top priority for you, or that you think will make the biggest impact overall. Sometimes, just shifting one element of performance positively impacts other areas, which whittles down your big list of improvements! Again, take time to be very specific about what you want the person TO DO, not what you want them to STOP DOING. If you are having a hard time with this, ask your self the question, "what would I like them to do instead of what they are doing now?" It's a simple, but essential part of influencing to ask for what you want, instead of what you don't. What if this employee is consistently performing to standard (or above!) and you don't really see any places they need improvement? Everyone has areas for growth and improvement, so what is an area, task or skill where you'd like them to take on more responsibility, gain greater expertise, or become the go-to person? 3. Third, after you've had your discussion about what's going well and areas for improvement or growth, ask your employee what might get in the way of their accomplishing the goal you've set for them in Step 2. Ask them to proactively identify potential obstacles to their performance! This is a simple, yet brilliant step in performance conversations and coaching. Often, people have obstacles, or even stories, that are actually not real, or they can be resolved quickly, but they aren't aware that they can. Perception is reality, and people behave according to what they perceive. If you don't know what might be in the way of their performance, you can't help them. However, you may be able to talk through an issue, make a decision that creates a shift, or create an opportunity for a team meeting or gathering to solve a problem of which you were unaware. We call this a little mini Clear the Swamp because it allows us to find out what's hiding out there in the murky water, preventing us from crossing safely and quickly. 4. Finally, you need to ask your employee what you can do to support their performance. Looking at Steps 2 and 3 specifically, say, "what can I do to support you?" or "how can I help you overcome this obstacle?" Try to listen with an open mind and see how you may be able to coach them to solve problems and overcome obstacles on their own. And, there may be actual, tangible things that you need to do (make a call, okay a new process, provide resources) in order for them to be successful. If your employee can't think of anything s/he needs from you, then offer to follow-up to help them be accountable to their goals and your expectations; that's your job anyway if you're managing performance. Give this a try in your next One-on-One, and contact us if you'd like more information about how to use our coaching tools: COACHING EM PLOYEES: FOUR STEPS FOR HIGHER PERFORMANCE

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