Coaching Employees is Job #1

Whether you’re a team leader, a super­vi­sor, or con­tact cen­ter man­ager, coaching—giving feed­back to your employees—is one of the most impor­tant thing you do leader. As a leader, your job is to set goals, and guide your team toward those goals as you inspire them toward new heights.

What Is Coaching?

The term coach­ing refers to the prac­tice of giv­ing feed­back to improve per­for­mance. Coach­ing can be one-way or two-way. One-way coach­ing is when you do all the talk­ing and two-way coach­ing is when you and an employee have a dis­cus­sion about per­for­mance. Most often, one-way coach­ing is brief, spon­ta­neous and timely, while two-way coach­ing is more likely to be sched­uled, longer in length, and off the floor in your office or con­fer­ence room. Over time you will be able to tweak your coach­ing tech­nique to best suit indi­vid­u­als and team needs.

Why Is Coach­ing Important?

Not only does coach­ing val­i­date an employ­ees’ job per­for­mance, it also shows that you take the suc­cess of your team and the com­pany seri­ously. Being seen as ded­i­cated to con­tin­ual improve­ment is very inspir­ing and will no doubt be moti­vat­ing for your staff.

Being a great coach comes nat­u­rally for some. But for the rest of us it requires some study, patience and prac­tice. Here are the two main skills to focus on:


It’s hard to feel good about your­self and your job when all you hear are neg­a­tive com­ments. To ensure your employ­ees per­form at opti­mal lev­els they will need to hear words of
encour­age­ment and praise from you. There are many effec­tive ways to praise but we have found the below exer­cise most effective.

Praising Employees

B = Behav­ior. Iden­tify pre­ferred behav­ior so the employee can con­tinue doing it.

E = Effect. Explain how the behav­ior con­tributed to the customer’s pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence, com­pany bot­tom line, or any­thing else that details why the behav­ior is desired.

T = Thanks. Always thank the employee. This shows appre­ci­a­tion and rein­forces that the employee per­formed well and encour­ages them to con­tinue per­form­ing in the same manner.


Although not as much fun as prais­ing, cor­rect­ing is a very impor­tant part of coach­ing. It is not easy to tell some­one that they did some­thing wrong or are not behav­ing per com­pany guide­lines, but avoid­ing such issues will affect your team’s pro­duc­tiv­ity and morale. Use this easy to remem­ber exer­cise to effec­tively cor­rect performance.

B = Behav­ior. Clearly point out the incor­rect behavior.

E = Effect. Explain the effect the incor­rect behav­ior had on the cus­tomer, call, etc.

E = Expec­ta­tion. Clearly state what you expect the employee to do dif­fer­ently next time.

S = Secure Com­mit­ment. Secure a com­mit­ment from the employee to try what you’ve asked.

Avoid Using “But”

In some cases, coach­ing ses­sions will involve both prais­ing and coach­ing. Always praise first. This will relax the employee and allow the employee to be more recep­tive to cor­rect­ing. How­ever, avoid using the word “but” as a tran­si­tion from prais­ing to cor­rect­ing. Using but will quickly negate all the pos­i­tive things you just said. Instead use a segue such as, “Now let’s talk about…” as a smooth tran­si­tion from prais­ing to correcting.

Use these skills reg­u­larly to praise and cor­rect your employ­ees and watch their per­for­mance improve.

by Peggy Carlaw


Motivate Them Right!

The Top 9 Things That Ultimately Motivate Employees to Achieve


When you wake up in the morning, what is the passion that fuels you to start your day?  Are you living this in your work?   If others asked you what drives you to achieve, would the answer be obvious?   The triggers that motivate people to achieve are unique for everyone.  Many would say its money; more people are starting to claim that they are driven to make a difference.  Regardless of what motivates you and drives you to reach peak performance  – it must be managed and balanced.  Too much motivation in one area will weaken other parts of your game. Motivation has been studied for decades and leaders in the workplace have used assessments like DISC and Myers-Briggs to determine their employee’s personality types to better anticipate behaviors and tendencies.   Additionally, motivational books are used as tools to get employees to increase their performance and / or get them back on track.    While assessments, books and other tools can help project and inspire short and long performance, the factors that motivate employees to achieve evolve as they mature and begin to truly understand what matters most to them.  Therefore, as leaders we must hold ourselves accountable to build meaningful and purposeful relationships that matter with our employees.  This allows us to better understand those we are serving, just as much as ourselves. As a leader, don’t just read the assessment scores, get to know those whom you are leading and be specific about how you help each of them achieve their goals, desires and aspirations.   The objective should be to help one another and to accomplish this each of you must identify those things that motivate you both to work together. To help you get the most from your employee relationships, here are the nine (9) things that ultimately motivate employees to achieve.  As you read this, think of how you associate with each of them.  Share your story and perspectives – and comment about it.  This is a hot topic and the more we can discuss it, we can help one another become better leaders.

1.       Trustworthy Leadership Leaders  that have your back and that are looking out for your best interests – will win the trust of their employees who in turn will be more motivated to achieve.    I

once had a department manager that always looked out for me.  He was upfront in communicating his performance expectations and his feedback was direct.   He never treated me like a subordinate and looked for ways to include me in senior management meetings.  This opened my eyes to what lied ahead in my career and thus motivated me to reach the next level and in the process exceed the expectations of my boss. Trust is a powerful motivational tool and those leaders that are more transparent with their employees will find surprising results and new types of opportunities to develop talent .

2.       Being Relevant In today’s world where everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their work – employees are motivated to achieve to remain relevant.   As such, employees are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills and invest in themselves.   This is an opportunity for leaders to get involved and understand how to build the depth and breadth of their employee’s skill sets and aptitudes.  For example, find ways to elevate your employees’ high-potential status. Helping employees increase their relevancy is important and those leaders that participate in this process will help cultivate increased performance levels and loyalty.  Helping your employees get discovered will elevate their motivation to achieve.

3.       Proving Others Wrong This particular motivation to achieve has been heighten as of late from younger professionals that seek to prove themselves faster amongst older generations in the workplace.   Employees never want to be stereotyped or marginalized, but for many younger professionals  this serves as the trigger to awaken them from within.  This certainly is not a generational issue as many of us have been questioned about our ability to achieve at a high-level.  I learned this the hard way throughout my career.   For example, as a former C-level executive (in my early 30’s) and later as a successful entrepreneur – people begin to envy  and / or doubt me thus igniting my hunger and drive to over achieve. As a leader, encourage your employees to exceed expectations by taking responsible risks.  Embrace diverse thinking and measure one’s ability to innovate.  Never underestimate an employee’s ability to perform until you have properly evaluated and tested their abilities and potential.

4.       Career Advancement Perhaps the most important factor on this list is the ability to advance.   Employees are extremely motivated to achieve if this means that advancement awaits them.   This requires employees to be mindful of opportunities that lie around, beneath and beyond what they seek.  As leaders, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement.  Remember, just because your employees may be relevant, it doesn’t guarantee advancement.  So make it a point to help them get there. How proficient are you at seeing and seizing opportunity?  If you haven’t taken my assessment, I suggest that you do (click here ).   Over 200,000 people have taken it and less than 1% of them have ever scored over 35.

5.       No Regrets People only have a few real chances in their careers to reach their ultimate goals.   In fact, how many times do you meet people that are more successful than you are and you wonder how they got there.   People don’t want to live with any regrets in their career/life and thus are motivated to not disappoint themselves. As a leader, don’t allow your employees to walk around carrying a load of guilt.  Share your journey with them – your failures and successes.   An employee that doesn’t believe will never achieve.    Help your employees embrace the unexpected and help them navigate uncertainty and change.   Many people are confused in today’s workplace about their future.  Motivate them by giving them the perspectives they need to achieve.

6.       Stable Future People are motivated to have safety and security.  Everyone wants a stable future, but you never know when time will pass you by.  That’s why we are all in a race against time and thus motivated to achieve faster than ever before.   We have all learned from the 2008 economic collapse that we can all quickly become victims of unexpected change without preparation. As a leader, be mindful of providing security and stability in how you lead your employees – and watch their motivational levels rise.

7.       Self-Indulgence This factor is quite interesting and extremely important to put into proper perspective.   People are motivated for selfish reasons to achieve – albeit money, attention, fame, etc.    Must we be reminded that greed and selfishness contributed greatly to America’s current economic hardship? Motivation that satisfies our self-indulgence is can also be risky.   In reminds me of a great quote from Peter Drucker in his book, “The Effective Executive” when he says that every time you meet a person with great strengths, you are also meeting someone with great weaknesses. As a leader, be aware that of your employees motivations are balance and well intentioned.   Self-indulgence can bring tremendous short term benefits – with longer term repercussions.

8.       Impact As mentioned earlier on, today’s employees are motivated to achieve more than ever simply by the opportunity to create impact.    As employees reflect on their lives and careers – they want to contribute in ways that measure their achievements based upon the long-term benefits that the company they serve bears. As a leader, allow your employees to have sustainable impact in the work they perform.  Allow them to make a mark toward significance.   Create the opportunity for their achievement to leave a long lasting legacy that rewards the organization they serve and for future generations to learn from. 9.       Happiness In the end, happiness is one of the greatest motivations to achieve.  Happiness fuels ones self-esteem and gives people hope for a better tomorrow.   We are all victims of taking our work too seriously.   Step back and enjoy the journey.  Your motivation to achieve is ultimately based on earning a living that brings you tremendous joy and satisfaction. As a leader, be aware of whether your employees are satisfied in their work and that you are deliberate in having this type conversation with them.  Never assume.   Employees will smile to save their jobs even if they aren’t content.   Assure your employees happiness shines and allow the previous eight motivational factors to influence the process organically.

Build a tower, build a team

Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?

Leadership – Why talent is overrated

Talent, in and of itself, is highly overrated. While not all leaders will develop their talents and abilities to the same level, all successful leaders more or less begin with the same foundation. Here’s the thing – most foundational elements of leadership require no skill or talent whatsoever. Clearly the difference possessed by all great leaders is they continue to refine, develop and build from their foundation – they understand leadership is not a destination; it’s a continuum.  The best leaders combine attitude, effort and skill, but of the three.

Forbes – Leadership

Watch Your Step

10 Common Leadership and Management Mistakes

Avoiding Universal Pitfalls

Avoid common leadership and management mistakes.


Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.
– Oscar Wilde

It’s often said that mistakes provide great learning opportunities. However, it’s much better not to make mistakes in the first place!

In this article, we’re looking at 10 of the most common leadership and management errors, and highlighting what you can do to avoid them. If you can learn about these here, rather than through experience, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble!

1. Lack of Feedback

Sarah is a talented sales representative, but she has a habit of answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. Her boss is aware of this, but he’s waiting for her performance review to tell her where she’s going wrong. Unfortunately, until she’s been alerted to the problem, she’ll continue putting off potential customers.

According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t provide prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

To avoid this mistake, learn how to provide regular feedback to your team. (You can use our Bite-Sized Training session on Giving Feedback to gain an in-depth understanding of feedback, and to learn how to provide it effectively.)

2. Not Making Time for Your Team

When you’re a manager or leader, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you don’t make yourself available to your team.

Yes, you have projects that you need to deliver. But your people must come first – without you being available when they need you, your people won’t know what to do, and they won’t have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.

Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when “your door is always open”, so that your people know when they can get your help. You can also use Management By Walking Around, which is an effective way to stay in touch with your team.

Once you’re in a leadership or management role, your team should always come first – this is, at heart, what good leadership is all about!

3. Being Too “Hands-Off”

One of your team has just completed an important project. The problem is that he misunderstood the project’s specification, and you didn’t stay in touch with him as he was working on it. Now, he’s completed the project in the wrong way, and you’re faced with explaining this to an angry client.

Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement. But going to the opposite extreme (with a hand-offs management style) isn’t a good idea either – you need to get the balance right.

Our article, Laissez Faire versus Micromanagement will help you find the right balance for your own situation.

4. Being Too Friendly

Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get on with. However, you’ll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you’re too friendly with them.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize with your people. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss.

Learn how to do avoid this mistake with our article, Now You’re the Boss. Also, make sure that you set clear boundaries, so that team members aren’t tempted to take advantage of you.

5. Failing to Define Goals

When your people don’t have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can’t be productive if they have no idea what they’re working for, or what their work means. They also can’t prioritize their workload effectively, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.

Avoid this mistake by learning how to set SMART goals for your team. Use a Team Charter to specify where your team is going, and detail the resources it can draw upon. Also, use principles from Management by Objectives to align your team’s goals to the mission of the organization.

6. Misunderstanding Motivation

Do you know what truly motivates your team? Here’s a hint: chances are, it’s not just money!

Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their team is only working for monetary reward. However, it’s unlikely that this will be the only thing that motivates them.

For example, people seeking a greater work/life balance might be motivated by telecommuting days or flexible working. Others will be motivated by factors such as achievement, extra responsibility, praise, or a sense of camaraderie.

To find out what truly drives your people, read our articles on McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory and Theory X and Theory Y. Then take our test “How Good Are Your Motivation Skills?” to learn how to be a great motivator of people.

7. Hurrying Recruitment

When your team has a large workload, it’s important to have a full team. But filling a vacant role too quickly can be a disastrous mistake.

Hurrying recruitment can lead to recruiting the wrong people for your team: people who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. They might also require additional training, and slow down others on your team. With the wrong person, you’ll have wasted valuable time and resources if things don’t work out and they leave. What’s worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to “carry” the under-performer.

You can avoid this mistake by learning how to recruit effectively, and by being particularly picky about the people you bring into your team.

8. Not “Walking the Walk”

If you make personal telephone calls during work time, or speak negatively about your CEO, can you expect people on your team not to do this too? Probably not!

As a leader, you need to be a role model for your team. This means that if they need to stay late, you should also stay late to help them. Or, if your organization has a rule that no one eats at their desk, then set the example and head to the break room every day for lunch. The same goes for your attitude – if you’re negative some of the time, you can’t expect your people not to be negative.

So remember, your team is watching you all the time. If you want to shape their behavior, start with your own. They’ll follow suit.

9. Not Delegating

Some managers don’t delegate, because they feel that no-one apart from themselves can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around them, and as they become stressed and burned out.

Delegation does take a lot of effort up-front, and it can be hard to trust your team to do the work correctly. But unless you delegate tasks, you’re never going to have time to focus on the “broader-view” that most leaders and managers are responsible for. What’s more, you’ll fail to develop your people so that they can take the pressure off you.

To find out if this is a problem for you, take our interactive quiz, How Well Do You Delegate? If you need to improve your skills, you can then learn key strategies with our articles, Successful Delegation, and The Delegation Dilemma.

10. Misunderstanding Your Role

Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities are very different from those you had before.

However, it’s easy to forget that your job has changed, and that you now have to use a different set of skills to be effective. This leads to you not doing what you’ve been hired to do – leading and managing.

Our articles Now You’re The Boss and From Technical Expert to Manager provide more information on the additional skills that you need to develop to be an effective manager. Make sure that you learn these skills – you’ll fail if you try to rely on technical skills alone, however good they are!

Key Points

We all make mistakes, and there are some mistakes that leaders and managers make in particular. These include, not giving good feedback, being too “hands-off,” not delegating effectively, and misunderstanding your role.

It’s true that making a mistake can be a learning opportunity. But, taking the time to learn how to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become productive and successful, and highly respected by your team.

Leaders, Know Your Team!

What Your Employees Won’t Tell You (But Wish You Knew)

Chances are, your employees aren’t going to come up to you one day and give you a piece of their mind. This could be for many reasons—maybe they don’t feel comfortable, maybe you don’t have a culture of transparency, or maybe they value their jobs, to name a few. Or maybe they consider you to be scary and intimidating (in which case, you should probably smile more).
But whatever the reason, there are likely a lot of things that your employees are thinking, but wouldn’t ever dare to tell you. Here are four of them.

“Sometimes, we know best.”
In a recent Fierce survey on management best practices and their effectiveness, 98% of workers stated that a leader’s decision-making process should include input from everyone impacted by the decision. Sounds great—but 40% of those surveyed also said that leaders continuously fail to ask.
When you need to make an important decision, don’t forget to consult the people closest to the issue—your employees. They know their work the best, and will often have important insights and knowledge that you aren’t familiar with because you’re more focused on the “big picture.” Seek out their diverse perspectives while inviting pushback and challenges. Your employees’ insights will not only lead to the best decisions for your team and the company, they will also enrich your relationships with them.

“We need some breathing room.”
Your employees want to be autonomous and have the freedom to make decisions. They aren’t interested in being treated like cogs in a machine. They want to have their hands on the steering wheel and have a clear understanding of their role in the big picture. (Yes, basically all of the things you wanted earlier in your career.)
You may say you trust your employees to make their own decisions, but they will only truly be empowered when they understand which decisions are theirs to make. Make sure what you say and how you behave are in line with each other. For example, if you tell your employees that they can be the lead on a project, but you offer feedback and make changes, employees may not be sure of their role in the decision process. Set clear delegation guidelines, establishing which decisions need to be jointly made, which should be passed along to you or other managers, and which decisions you’re entrusting to your employees. Then, stick to them.

“We want to know what’s going on.”
All too often, there’s an overall lack of trust in organizations. In the Fierce survey, 50% of workers identified a lack of company-wide transparency and too little employee involvement in company decisions as their key areas of concern. And 21% of employees dislike that information is disseminated at their companies on a “need-to-know” basis, rather than freely and openly.
The reality is, in the absence of communication, people fill the void with often-incorrect tidbits of information—and it’s rarely positive. For example, employees will assume you’re not communicating because the company is in trouble or hiding something. Now, maybe it is, and maybe you think you’re protecting your employees by not sharing information. However, many employees would rather be trusted so they can have ownership and actively participate in solving problems.
Build your employees’ trust by communicating as often and as openly as you can, welcoming questions, and allowing people to have insight into the decision-making process. There may still be some information you can’t share, but sharing what you can and encouraging people to ask you questions (even if you sometimes answer “I don’t know” or “I can’t go any deeper”) will show your team that you trust them and make them feel like they’re in the know.

“We want to have a relationship with you.”
As a leader, it’s sometimes difficult to balance how to connect with your team, how to lead them, and how to be sensitive to those who want to keep their professional and personal lives separate. But the thing is, most of the time, your employees want to have a relationship with you. In another Fierce survey about employees’ relationships with supervisors, 75% claim their relationships with their bosses have a direct effect on their job satisfaction. By opening up and connecting with them, you’ll build their trust, improve workplace morale, and be able to better relate to them as people and as co-workers.
Check in with your team on a daily basis to understand how they are doing, both personally and professionally. This should be more than just a brief “How are you doing?”—it should be sincere and unique for each person. Get curious and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the people you’re working with.

The biggest takeaway from these four points is that employees crave communication. They want honest, open conversations with each other and with their leaders, and they want to feel heard and appreciated. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, value different opinions, and be as transparent as possible. You’ll eventually create a company culture where employees feel comfortable to come up to you and speak their mind—no longer wishing you knew something, and instead telling you directly.

This article was originally published on The Daily Muse.

To be a Leader…

To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!