“I did a full chest to bar pull-up!” 

My wife Heather returned from her 6 AM workout a couple of weeks ago incredibly excited that she had finally achieved a real, legit, pull-up. 

“I never, ever, thought I’d be able to do this!”

She’s been working really hard, and when I asked her about it, she explained how valuable the personal, 1:1, coaching had been over the past six months.

She described how at first, the trainers had her doing small tasks like merely hanging from the bar, or then just slightly pulling up to activate her shoulders. For another two weeks, she was told to jump up there and lower herself down as slowly as she could. 

She felt, for months, these tasks seemed trivial and rather meaningless and was convinced they wouldn't help her get over that bar.

But then, after months of hard work, it all started to come together. First hang, then activate your muscles, then pull, etc. All the coaching was broken down into small actionable steps which compounded into the desired result. They wouldn't let her move on to the second step until she nailed down the first.

Her coach’s approach was well thought out, well structured, and produced measurable results.  It’s that triple threat that most of my corporate clients would kill to have! 

This isn’t a Tuesday Tidbit™ about the importance of coaching, because we all know it’s important and valuable (more on using external coaches next week.) 

This is Tidbit about the easiest, most effective way to start coaching people internally, and why many organizations are doing a lousy job of it. One of the first questions I often ask many of the leaders I speak to is what kind of regularized, ongoing coaching they’re engaged in with their key people. I usually get blank stares. Not only are they not engaging in regular, ongoing, coaching, but they also have no clue where to start.

There’s a simple 4-step process anyone can you to do more effective internal coaching starting today. 

This assumes that you’ve set up regular coaching sessions (IE weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) with the people you’re coaching.

In the first session, set no more than three goals to work on until the next session. Setting these goals can come from you (the coach), from them, or from a collaborative discussion between both of you. The goals should be measurable, and you should both know WHY it’s important to work on them. The employee should make some notes on challenges they think they’ll face in achieving the goal and record those.

In every subsequent coaching session, the structure should look like this.  

For each goal, ask the following questions:

  1. What were your successes in achieving this goal since our last meeting?
  2. What were the challenges you faced? Did the notes you made in step 3 last week help?  
  3. What adjustments do you have to make, if any, to be more successful with them for next week?
  4. Do you think this goal has become habitual enough that we can stop measuring it?

Record your answers to these questions, along with a score between 1 – 10 (to be determined and agreed on by both the coach and the employee) rating the employee's success in achieving that goal.

If the answer to question 4 is “yes,” then you can remove it from tracking, and add a new goal to the list.

  Ensure you never have more than five current goals, and preferably try to keep it to the three most useful areas the employee can be working towards.

Your challenge for this week: If you don't have a formal coaching program in place, try using this framework and see how it works for you. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how focusing in on these areas helps people to focus on the most critical growth areas, and how quickly you start to see positive results.

You can apply this to almost any area of your business. Your sales managers should be using a similar process with all of their salespeople. Your customer service/experience should be using this with everyone on their teams; your retail managers should be using this with people working the front lines, and so on. 

It's the fastest, most effective way to implement internal coaching and reap the benefits.

If you already have a formal coaching program in place, write me about what you do – I love hearing from organizations that are having successes!