Developing and Inspiring Employees Through Coachable Moments

Looking back over my career there are a few events that stand out as key moments of growth and inspiration. One of these key moments occurred early in my career, when I went to my manager to 'confess' that I had screwed up and not followed our agreed upon approach when defining client expectations. Instead of reading me ‘the riot act’ as I expected, she started asking me questions: “What did you learn about yourself as you tried to do damage control? Did you discover any new skills? How would you leverage these new skills?” The whole conversation only took about 10 minutes, but to this day it stands out as a key moment of growth for me. As leaders, it is critically important to always be looking for these moments of opportunity to coach and inspire our employees. Here are three key steps to follow to create coachable moments.

1. Willingness to Slow Down and Recognize a Coachable Moment The pace of work in today’s organizations is hectic, and many times the moments to engage an employee about their growth and development are easily missed. It’s important for leaders to slow down, open their eyes and ears, and actively look for these coachable moments. It’s impossible to predict when these moments will pop up, so it’s important to always be on the look out and take advantage of them when they occur.


2. Focus on Asking Rather Than Telling Many times it’s much quicker and easier to be directive and tell an employee what to do, but this approach does not tend to inspire employees or promote significant growth. It’s much more effective to ask meaningful questions that allow the employee to go through their own process of discovery. By asking rather than telling, employees have to dig deep and really think about what they did, why they did it, and what they learned. This is where true growth occurs.


3. Making Connections It’s important to make connections back to the work. Once an employee has gained awareness of a new skill or knowledge highlighted through a coachable moment, it’s important to discuss application. How is the person going to continue to develop the skill? Leverage it? Highlight it? Use it to reach key project goals? A quick discussion connecting these learnings back to work and emphasizing the positive impact it can have is very useful to the employee. If connections are not made, the impact of the coachable moment is limited.    


Summary: A great way for leaders to promote growth and inspiration is to take advantage of coachable moments in everyday interactions with their employees. Always be on the lookout for these opportunities and be willing to spend the necessary effort to take advantage them – these moments will add up and will lead to key growth opportunities for your employees!

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