As I’m writing this it’s the very beginning of a new year. I love this time of year. It brings us a clean slate - a brand-new calendar - new challenges and opportunities - and of course, the inevitable resolutions. It’s also a time to reflect. And as I reflect on my past and current involvement in this great industry, I continue to be so grateful for the many (oh, so many!) blessings that have been bestowed upon me: unbelievably terrific family, great health, lots of varied interests. And high on the list, I’m still able to write a couple of columns every month, teach 25 or so workshops every year and do consulting for wholesalers, manufacturers and independent dealers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Several of my consulting clients call me “Coach.” I love the title. One of the main things I try to do when working with business owners or showroom managers is to teach them how to be better coaches, mentors, trainers, bosses for their employees. There’s not room to explore all the pieces of that complex puzzle, but we do have room to hit a few high spots.
As I’ve stated more than once in this column, PEOPLE are every company’s most important asset. You’ve also seen this before: hire the best, train the best, motivate the best, communicate the best, and compensate the best, and you enhance tremendously the odds that you can be the BEST.
I also preach, plead and encourage all of you to develop written job descriptions for all employees and to do at least once-a-year (twice is better) job performance evaluations. Every employee deserves to know what the job entails and how they’re doing.
If you are a “boss” (coach), whether with 500 employees under you or just one, you have an obligation to be the very best coach you can be. Here are 10 guidelines (I’m calling them the “10 Commandments Of Coaching”) that you can follow to help you be a great coach.
The 10 Commandments Of Coaching1. Goal setting.If you’ve read this column for any length of time, you already know how strongly I feel about this. It’s the beginning of a new year and a perfect time to establish sales and gross profit goals for every salesperson and manager.
2. Ongoing feedback. Employees want, need and deserve to know how they’re performing. So give salespeople a monthly report card. Show this year’s actual results vs. the established goals vs. last year’s numbers.
3. Two-way communication. When performance evaluations are well planned, documented and delivered, you will have set the stage for great feedback. You will not only be helping (coaching) the employee, but you will learn a lot about your company, other people and yourself.
4. Day-to-day coaching. Being a good coach is a day-in, day-out, never-ending process. You have to be in tune, aware and sensitive to what’s going on.
5. Team meetings. When I owned my business we had a team meeting every Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. We used them to work on product knowledge training, selling skills training (I’ll bet very few of you do any of this - shame!), administrative information, etc. We had an agenda. Everyone contributed. We started and ended on time.
6. Individual development. Every member of your team is different. The old cliché of “different strokes for different folks” is oh-so-true. Your responsibility as a coach is to determine what drives, motivates, encourages, excites and challenges each one of your team members.
7. Personal growth. Do you really know what each team player’s aspirations and ambitions are? Do you know what their “hot buttons” are and how and when to push them? As mentioned above, everyone is different and your challenge is to discover what makes each person want to work harder, sell more and be more proficient at what they do.
8. Empowerment. This is something too many coaches have a hard time doing: Empowering their employees to do their jobs. Do a mutually agreed-upon job description and then let the employee run with it. Employees are bright - and with the right coaching and encouragement, they’ll find a way to get the job done. It may not be exactly the same way you would have done it, but so what? As long as it gets done and is done well.
9. Recognizing results. Here’s another area of human resource management that requires a separate set of skills - learning to recognize and reward team players for the efforts of their labors. See the aforementioned book under No. 2.
10. Assistance. You’re the coach. Are you there to do your job? Or are you stuck in your office doing “your thing?”
Think about this. A chain will only be as strong as its weakest link. Your company or showroom staff will only be as strong as the weakest employee. The coach’s job is to identify the weakest team members and to do everything possible to help them become stronger. It’s a never-ending job, but the results for the company and you individually are wonderfully rewarding. Good luck to all you coaches out there.