By Lana J. Chandler
Branch Manager’s Letter
The word “coaching” is often used to justify managing to the numbers versus working on improving the person’s skills. “Every person has gifts and talents that they want to use and improve upon. These gifts and talents are used at work so we can achieve our dream…we want to be better tomorrow than we are today,” points out Susan Roach, Partner, Advantage Performance Group (Dallas, TX).
Improving a person’s skills and behaviors will result in increased production. “Everyone wants to be successful. The greatest gift a manager/mentor/ coach can give a person is insight into their strengths and ways to improve on those strengths and minimize the weaknesses,” says Roach.
EXAMPLE: A person’s values are their moral compass. An employee may value taking care of family and spending time with loved ones. In this economy, employers have to accomplish more with less staff. This may create the need for the person to work extra hours which infringes on living their value of being with their family. In a culture that fosters coaching the whole person, the need for working extra hours would be discussed and mitigated so the employee would stay aligned and engaged while still reaching the business outcome.
Focus on What Makes Each Person Successful
When you understand the aspirations, values and motivators of your direct reports, you can focus on what makes them successful. “Coaching to numeric goals does not guarantee success. The person can be clear on the goals but not know how to achieve them or how they are aligned with their values,” Roach says. “A good coach can help the person develop their skills which will lead to reaching their goals. What actions or activities can I do better which will enable me to achieve the goals?”
EXAMPLE: A CSR knows that he should take care of the client’s problem and look for ways to expand the relationship. The CSR values helping clients who have problems but cannot see the value in identifying opportunities to sell the client more products. When the coach explains to the CSR the value of each product and how it can actually help the client, the potential for the CSR to achieve his referral goal increases. Providing good service gains the CSR the right to sell the client more products which consequently will improve the client’s financial situation.
Tips for Success
Coaching is critical to the success of your financial institution as well as the individual. “You should always help an employee identify their strengths. Those strengths don’t know the difference between work and personal life, so there will always be a crossover,” Roach says. “When you coach to the whole person, you will hopefully accomplish the organization’s goals and help the person be the best they can be utilizing their strengths.” Roach offers these tips:
Flex to the person’s style.
Personality profiling tools can help people develop insights into their own personality types and how to recognize others. Increasing your awareness of personality types helps you understand how to modify behavior to meet the needs of people with different personalities. Being able to flex and recognize the needs of different styles helps you communicate better with your direct reports as a coach and a leader.
Provide consistent coaching.
“Monthly coaching is optimum. Also, reinforce good exhibition of skills and behaviors ‘on the spot’ when you observe them,” says Roach. Coaching consistently builds trust. If you are on again, off again, the person begins to think that you don’t really care about their success. Furthermore, the employee does not feel compelled to accomplish the agreed upon actions because you don’t care enough to check in. “Is it easier to teach your children how to use a fork and knife if you practice at each meal or if you only practice at one meal a month? The employee knows that you’re busy so when you take the time to work one-on-one with the employee, they know that they are important. The employee looks forward to the time set apart to really talk with their manager,” Roach says. “We all love attention when it is about making us better. If it is just about the organization making money, then it is not important to us. In fact, it can feel like a stick in our back if the ‘coaching’ session is only about the numbers.”
Discover how you can help the individual grow.
“Learn to ask great questions. Keep ‘peeling back the onion’ so you can get to the root causes of behavior. And listen well,” advises Roach. When someone works for you, what they learn and/or develop from a skill, knowledge or behavior will have an impact on them the rest of their life…good or bad impact. At the end of the day, is the person better off having worked for you …or being coached by you if they are not a direct report?
EXAMPLE: An employee has been in banking for years but never been in a position to either “sell” to the client or be measured for performance. A good manager who coaches and works with an employee can help them make the leap to a full-service financial consultant who benefits their clients. However, a good coach will take baby steps, working on one or two new skills/ behaviors at a time. Consistent coaching combined with positive re-enforcement will help the employee discover that they can be successful and provide value to their clients in this new role.
Identify gaps in performance.
A good coach will enable the employee to discover what the gap is without having to tell them. Roach suggests…
- Ask a series of questions on what the employee feels good about and where they feel they excel
- Ask a series of questions to identify where they feel an inner struggle to perform as expected
- Try to help the employee discover what is getting in the way of being able to perform as he or she desires
- Look at the areas that are lagging, as this can help uncover skill gaps or what isn’t working for the employee
- Never assume the employee knows why goals or measurements are not being met
Find ways to close the gaps in performance.
Generally, people want to be successful. If there is a performance gap, the employee is usually frustrated. Closing gaps can require additional training, skill development, building confidence, etc. With skill issues, for instance, role-play with the employee or have the person observe you exhibiting the skill with a client.
- A commercial lender/relationship manager visits a prospect; he or she talks about the financial institution, its history, its products and rates. That doesn’t work anymore. The prospect doesn’t care about the institution. The prospect wants to know how this banker can bring value to the business and accelerate its financial results. “It takes a different mindset to prepare for a prospect call and during the interaction with a prospect,” Roach says. “If the banker does not change his or her thinking of why a prospect would consider switching institutions and change his or her questioning skills, the banker is probably going to struggle in making the performance goals. Fee income has become a substantial part of the profitability mix, so a banker needs to understand a client’s business needs so they can sell multiple products that meet those needs.
- A personal banker (PB) may be more of an order taker than a salesperson. The gap may be that the PB doesn’t see herself as a seller but does see herself as a great service provider. Once she understands that selling the client products that help improve the client’s financial situation is great service, then a change in mindset happens.
“Lou Holtz tells a great story about a highly recruited place kicker that joined his team. At the first practice, the kicker couldn’t hit anywhere near a field goal. Lou goes over to him and puts his arm around him and asks him what is wrong as he has had such a successful career in the past,” Roach continues. “The kicker says Coach, I am just nervous with you watching me kick. Lou responds with Well, I am planning on attending all the games this year, so we are going to have to work through this.” An effective coach observes the skills, behaviors, and activities that support the employee’s goals and the specific actions that they agreed on in the coaching session. The coach should always be aware of teachable moments, opportunities to praise, and specific information to use during a coaching session.
- Know what you are looking for. Identify the specific skills and behaviors you want the employee to work on.
- Design a checklist for the client interaction or use the “shopper’s form” if you have a professional shopping service. Identify the skills and behaviors you want to see and observe during a client interaction.
- Schedule a time to observe each person. Routinely inspecting what you expect is imperative.
- Position yourself where you can see your people in action. Grab a cup of coffee or some papers and locate yourself where you can clearly see whether your people are demonstrating the desired skills and behaviors.
- Take notes and put them in your coaching file for that person.
- Work on the ability to measure demonstrated skills against good examples of those skills.
Advantage Performance Group (www.AdvantagePerformance.com ) is a unique training company – a one-of-a-kind network of consultants backed by thought-leading providers and state-of-the-art learning methodologies. Our specialties are: sales transformation, leadership and management development, and business acumen. We provide a virtually unlimited menu of product solutions designed to meet your evolving business issues. We augment these solutions with customization, measurement, and implementation services. To contact Susan Roach, call 1-972-701-9815 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
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