Coaching is one of the most underused tools in a construction leader’s tool box.
Jobsite leaders, as well as leaders of companies, have the opportunity every day to inspire, empower and engage members of their crew or team by being an effective coach. Why is that important? Because every inspired, empowered and engaged employee is an asset to your business.
When issues arise, leaders often deviate from coaching and revert to a non-coaching approach. They solve the problem themselves or instruct someone else what to do in a given situation. Although this approach appears to work, it doesn’t make a meaningful contribution to the development of a crew or team member. Nor does it empower or engage the workforce in the long run.
More than that, leaders who use coaching skills effectively in their day-to-day activities become the leaders everyone wants to work for. As a result, employees appreciate the time spent on big-picture issues while experiencing less chaos in the workplace.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is patiently developing the skills and habits of others by providing guidance through demonstrating and teaching in a positive and supportive manner.
What Coaching Skills are Essential?
Being an effective coach requires developing coaching skills and constantly refining them. What are those skills? Start with these five techniques effective coaches use.
1. Develop the Art of Asking More and Better Questions
As an example, when discussing a project update, a coach would ask:
- What three things could cause this project to not finish on time?
- What three things could cause this project to be over budget?
- If we had the chance to repeat last week’s activities, what one action could we have taken to experience more progress?
The answers to these questions lead to positive actions (now or in the future) such as preventing a project delay or avoiding a budget overrun.
In addition to schedule and budget items, great questions can be asked in a multitude of areas:
- jobsite cleanliness
- working conditions
Every great question can lead to another great question that can lead to a great conversation that can lead to a great result.
2. Elevate Listening Skills
Effective coaching requires leaders to elevate their listening skills. To do that means working diligently at:
- Being available: Leaders can’t coach when they aren’t available to listen.
- Being approachable: Leaders can’t coach when their team is afraid to be around them.
- Being present: Leaders can’t coach when they aren’t focused on listening to what's being said by the employee.
When leaders don’t listen well, they won’t know what questions to ask. And they won’t know what lessons to share or guidance to provide.
3. Encourage Curiosity
Exceptional leaders encourage curiosity. They see value in their employees looking beyond the obvious. Curious employees get engaged and become creative because their coach supports them.
How can leaders encourage curiosity? By challenging their employees to explore other areas.
As an example, they might ask everyone to bring two questions to the next team meeting about an area of the business they don’t fully understand. Those areas could include human resources, project bidding, or blueprint reading.
4. Provide Positive Reinforcement and Encouragement
Employees respond to positive reinforcement and encouragement as long as they come across in a genuine way.
When mistakes are made (and they will be made), an effective coach uses them as learning opportunities and teaching moments. He or she supportively extracts lessons by first asking great questions and then pointing out different techniques to avoid future mistakes. In addition, an effective coach aims to boost spirits by leaving any negative situation with a message of encouragement.
Leaders who are exceptional coaches clearly understand that if they choose their words wisely, excitement, enthusiasm and engagement result. If they choose them poorly, valuable learning opportunities get missed.
5. Stay Credible
Leaders who are effective coaches must earn their employees’ trust and respect by continuing to learn and grow themselves. They stay credible as they improve their ability to coach others.
Why Coaching is Key
Whether you’re a jobsite leader or running a company, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn and grow by taking advantage of key coaching moments.
It’s easy to tell people what to do and how to do it. Exceptional leaders inspire, empower, and engage employees through the practice of coaching—and succeed in attracting and retaining the best ones!
Whether you personally lead a team, or you want to upskill the leaders in your organization—watch my webinar on-demand to take a deep, tactical dive on how to put these coaching concepts into action at your organization: