Trait #1: Organised approach / commitmentThe best of coaches are organised. This is perhaps one of the most important traits of a great coach because it shows commitment. Great coaches know that the success of their department / company is based on their employees. The better the employees, the better the results. Knowing this, they establish a coaching schedule each and every week. They know that coaching is like an exercise program: the more they follow the coaching schedule, the stronger their employees will become. They stick to it.
And this organised and committed approach tells their team that their success is important.
Trait #2: Process oriented / consistencyThe actual coaching process with the employee is not arbitrary. It is consistent. The employee is not left confused by the methodology of the coach. Good coaching has four key components: standards, monitoring, analysis and feedback.
The great manager consistently monitors an employee's work based on what they do against a set of skill standards established in the initial training (see "Objectivity" below). The great manager analyses what has been done and provides feedback designed to positively modify, change and alter the employee's behaviour. There is no willy-nilly, shoot from the hip approach to coaching. It is reliable, dependent, and consistent.
Trait #3: Participative feedbackGreat coaches don't tell their employees what they observed or what they 'did wrong'. Great coaches ask: "Mark, how do you feel you went?" "Chantal, relative to what we learned about knee jerk reactions, how do you think you went?". By doing this, the manager is allowing the employee to participate and in effect, coach themselves. Two way dialogue, not a one way monologue. The employee must do the analysis. It becomes more meaningful. The coach is not the 'bad guy'.
Trait #4: ObjectiveGreat coaches are objective with their feedback. They eliminate the arbitrary and subjective nature of feedback by clearly defining the 'standards' or 'standard operating procedure' for certain key parts of the employee's job. When feedback is provided on the standards, it is based on pre-determined components and not on the whim of the coach at that moment. The employee understands that and realises it is not a personal perspective. This makes the feedback meaningful, relevant and easier to apply.
Trait #5: Knowledgeable / skilledPerhaps it is understood, but great coaches are knowledgeable. They know the products or services. But more significantly, they know the processes - the skills and techniques that contribute to success. It is skills combined with knowledge that creates a success. The better the manager knows these two elements, the better they can help the employee modify, change and improve their behaviour.
Trait #6: Balanced / fairStudies reveal that 'negative' (albeit, constructive) feedback is given five times more than positive. A great coach knows this and battles it. A great coach is conscious of looking for and providing positive feedback. But more importantly, a great coach knows not to dilute the positive with the constructive. For example: "Laura, that was a really great (insert behaviour here). Well done ... But your (insert action) was weak." A great coach gives good news and good news only. They let their employees bathe in the praise. Or they give constructive feedback and constructive feedback only. There is no mixing of messages and hence, no confusion about the message.
Trait #7: Flexibility / adjustableWhile a great manager is process oriented and utilises clearly defined standards to guide the analysis, they can be flexible in the manner and tone in which coaching is applied. A great coach adjusts to the personality and behaviour of the individual employee. Analytical employees get more structure in their feedback. Driver-type employees get direct, no nonsence feedback. Amiable employees are handled with a little more sensitivity. Expressive employees get banter. This means the coach knows - really knows - their employees.
Trait #8: Patient / tolerantMost people resist change even if the change is for the good. Changing and modifying behaviour takes time and effort. Some employees adjust quickly - some don't. A good coach is aware of that and they're patient. Employees will make mistakes, sometimes repeatedly. A good coach is tolerant of mistakes. It may mean a little more extra coaching and a little more time, but often that's what is necessary for success. So they hunker down and get the job done.
Trait #9: Tough / firmA great coach knows when to be tough and kick butt. This means identifying employees who consistently under perform putting them on a 'get well program'. It means sticking to creating and communicating clear expectations, putting the employee on a plan and keeping them on task. It means follow up. Lots of follow up. It means not falling for excuses and it means not extending deadline after deadline. Tough love.
Trait #10: RealisticA great coach is realistic. Great coaches know when the coaching is NOT working and get well programs have not succeed. It means letting go. Terminating. The key point is this: for whatever reason, not every employee will benefit from the coaching efforts. Some employees will not apply the skills or techniques and won't succeed. Great coaches know when to quit. They know when to move on. They know that it is better to work on those who can grow than those who won't.