4 Distance Coaching Tips for Managers

Many managers express concern about their ability to be an effective coach from a distance, or “between field rides” so to speak.  Learn how to effectively utilize distance coaching techniques today.

When you cannot directly observe your team member’s behaviors, interactions with customers, and their collaboration among their peers, how does the effective coach bridge this gap?

“Among the important skills all good leaders share, the ability to establish an environment of healthy, productive teamwork, nurture collaboration, and encourage the team to challenge the status quo is essential.”

Bruce Jones (HBR)

4 Distance Coaching Tips

Tip # 1Foster and expect a culture of collaboration.

Your team’s growth and development should not be solely dependent on your coaching efforts. Proactive collaboration, teaching, and training among the team are the primary vehicles for on-going learning and sustained performance. Hierarchy, cliques, and lone wolf mentalities are the enemies of high performing coaching cultures.

Tip # 2 — Schedule 2–3 coaching “check ins” (about 10–15 minutes each) in between face-to-face visits.

Priorities live on calendars, or at least they should. Micromanaging is a sin and so is under-communicating. Many great managers resist this practice saying, “I have an open door policy and speak with my folks all the time.” Do not abolish this noble practice. However, scheduling brief check-ins ensures that high-value and timely communications flow through your team.

When you schedule, and execute, these check-ins you broadcast three powerful messages to your team:

• Coaching and developing is a core value of your organization.
• Retaining and growing people are central to your organization’s talent management strategy.
• Growth leads to results, not the other way around.

Tip #3 — Create clear, focused, 10 or 15-minute agendas.

Value creates future desire. The effective distance coach does not wing these sessions. She provides active guidance, direction, and brings valuable marketplace and business data. Her communications are on-point, incisive; enabling her team members to co-create strategic and tactical plans.

Warning! These are coaching sessions, not business plan reviews or performance management conversations!

Tip #4 — Create a culture of accountability and performance (inspect what you expect).

During your last interaction, the team member committed to 2–3 SMART actions, right? Scheduled check-ins are primarily meant to be accountability milestones. How is your team tracking against their development goals? What support, encouragement, or insight can you provide them?

Begin shaping a more rigorous and disciplined virtual-coaching plan by implementing these four practices. Remember to practice good change leadership skills by explaining to your team members the “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” reasoning and openly address any concerns or resistance.

Finally, remember the primary goal of coaching is to help your people self-coach when you’re not around. The above best practices are meant to help your people be successful and win!

Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring!  -Steve

As always, contact me with any of your burning manager-coaching questions!

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