“All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.” – Bill McCartney

When executives coach, they commonly make the mistake of downplaying their role as the boss. Confusion occurs with the associate and coaching fails.

To be clear, a boss is the one who holds people accountable for results. A coach helps people increase their skills to achieve the results.

When executives coach, they usually downplay their team’s accountability for results because as a coach, they want to develop their skills. They use coaching to get them to do what they want. That’s wrong.

Coaching is not a substitute for performance management. You have to do both and develop clarity with each endeavor. Ensure each team member understands their performance expectations AND coach them to accomplish those performance expectations. It’s a dual role — don’t mix them up.

Communicate your expectations and ensure you get full commitment.

1. Make sure they understand their goals. Get them to break down each goal and to identify the Who, What, Where, When and Why. This process will allow the How to appear. Steer them when they go off-course and ensure they will deliver EXACTLY what you expect.

2. Get them to mentally commit to their goals. Ownership is key — if they see these goals as yours and not theirs, all will fail. Impart clear accountability — if goals fail, it’s their head, If the goals succeed, they get the accolades. It’s that simple. If they are stuck or don’t know how to do this, I show them how I do it.

3. Give them space to take initiative to reach their goals. Now be a good boss, step back, and give them space. This is a critical time where bosses tend to crowd their team members — give them adequate real estate to reach their goal.

Coach to keep them focused, on track, and to increase their performance.

1. Put yourself in their place and understand their challenges. Each team member has their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s your job to understand what they are and where the possible road hazards might occur along the process. Once this is done, you will know approximately where each tipping point will occur and be available to coach them through it.

2. Work with the associate so they can plan all their steps. Get each associate to come up with a process comfortable to them to easily track their progress. The process of planning together allows you to step out of your ‘boss’ role and to help guide their progress as a coach. Remember it’s their plan, not yours.

3. Actively coach them through the process. Develop regular meetings to discuss issues, concerns and opportunities along the way. If they are getting frustrated, help them solve each obstacle by asking questions. Do not attempt to help — this will only move the responsibility from the associate to you. Provide regular tracking to measure where they are and how much farther they have to go. Finally, help break bad behavior patterns along the way — this will help them accelerate and grow during the process.

How do you coach your team?