Coaching Best Practices

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At the 1998 ASTD Management Development Forum, Scott Simmerman led a large group discussion of Best Practices in Coaching Improved Performance among a group of about 90 trainers representing companies worldwide. This is a brief summary of the ideas and themes that were discussed. These are presented in no particular order

Important Problems include no accountability, desired behavior is not reinforced and managers talking about coaching but not doing a good job of it themselves.

There must be ownership. As Scott Simmerman says, "Nobody ever washes a rental car." Senior managers must be actively and visibly involved in the implementation and maintenance in order for them to support it. They must also see a value in improving their human capital investment important to the success of the organization.

Performance change is more likely when there is "Pain By Instruments" for not changing. Examples used were 360 degree feedback, comparison to norms and competencies, management objectives being changed, etc.

A mentor is a coach on proficiencies or a resource to find someone who is proficient on a particular skill or competency

Have people develop specific action plans for implementation and do followup on those plans.

Add a section on coaching to your compensation program's performance management package - make it one of the evaluated objectives

One company did one on one coaching among the 300 top managers - each was paired with another person in the top team and they worked on coaching and mentoring each other


From Gregg Blake at Greenville Memorial Hospital System:

The Five Principles of Coaching

Note: this is from a hospital system and spells out PLASMa


Focus on communications and implementation. Don't just talk about coaching in the classroom but package a program that has followup built in. One proven idea was to set up an on-line coaching system to share ideas, successes, approaches and problems. It operated almost like a list-serve and was designed to generate interactivity.Get senior management actively involved and not just supporting the program financially. Have them involved in the training and not just giving the introductory speech. Get them involved in followup and in recognition of improvements.

Measure the impacts of the coaching by aligning it with corporate objectives and goals. Set up effective feedback systems.

Combine the coaching with systems thinking and/or performance management approaches so that participants are potentially changing the way things work instead of simply expecting different results with no significant changes in goals, expectations, feedback or rewards.

Have each coaching trainee assigned to a coaching mentor who has successfully demonstrated the desired behaviors. Make this a one-on-one situation with some reporting to top management.

Include coaching in your checklists of core competencies and behaviors. Do this by job areas or job levels.

Give people an outside viewpoint and objectivity to the program and its impacts. Have participants see another company's impacts and performance improvement opportunities.

Be sure that people truly understand the economic and productivity impacts of coaching improved performance. They often do not understand the Big Picture.

Do "Inside Out Coaching"

Not telling but Asking

Focus on growing people as human capital

Getting ideas from them

Multi-Rater feedback can provide good feedback - something must be done with the data though, positively and forward-looking

Coaching top management is difficult from the inside; you might want to get an outside person to assist.

There exist levels of coaching

Two-on-One Coaching

Develop a checklist


Focus on the coaching rather than the coachee

Technique -


Choose coaching clients carefully - are they the right ones? Do they need coaching or systems improvement?


Set up key criteria - Blue Sheet and identify missing items, what to do, checklists and provide the various tools to generate pattern interruption and new behaviors of the coaches.

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