Thanks to Ellucian for hosting this month's meeting!

Today's CFLNCSA Chapter Meeting presentation on coaching techniques and the ensuing discussion, facilitated by Ellucian's Operations Manager, Avian Carey, were both informative and highly participatory. Avian focused on two widely-used techniques, the sandwich method and constructive coaching. The subsequent conversation was an opportunity for members and guests alike to share best practices used in a variety of industries and with teams both large and small. 

Avian explained that the sandwich method, which wraps either side of the coaching with compliments, is the most widely used technique. As his humorous puppet video clip demonstrated, the risk is that the individual being coached takes away only the positives - a classic case of selective listening. Another possible risk is that the recipient can build an aversion to positive feedback, now expecting it to be immediately followed by a negative.

Constructive coaching differs in that the conversation opens on a neutral note and then leads into coaching. The segue is introduced by questions like, "Were you aware that...?" "Did you know that...?" or some equivalent and then an exploration of the area for improvement follows. The possible pitfall of this technique is that rather than encouraging an honest, open dialogue, the recipient becomes defensive.     

I captured just several of the comments or best practices here, partly because I am a mono-tasker at heart, but also as a bit of a tease for those who did not attend to encourage them to show up next month for the full story. For those who did attend, I trust that you had some key take-always from the meeting and will continue to suit up, show up and engage in future.

·         How you structure the coaching conversation depends on the person. It should be tailored to the individual, as well as modified depending on the level of the employee and the position of person giving the feedback.

·         Be sure to ask questions to encourage involvement.

·         It is important to know your employee. Knowing the individual's Myers-Briggs Personality Type may also be useful when it comes to developing and delivering your message.

·         Set the scene and schedule the session in advance to give the employee time to prepare for the conversation.

·         Hold regular 1:1s, skip level 1:1s and walk the floor!

·         Take time to prepare for the meeting (Have tissues handy!) and plan your responses - particularly with an employee who typically exhibits less than positive behavior during coaching sessions.

·         Keep it real!

·         Document the conversation and ask the employee if he/she has anything to add to that documentation.

·         Give better feedback by using "and" instead of "but." Eg: "You are good at x, and if you continue working on y, you'll be even better."

·         Formal Performance Evaluations are typically done 1x per year. If the employee is "surprised" by the results, then his/her manager is not doing their job.

·         360° surveys are a great way for managers to get feedback on their effectiveness as a coach.

·         In Europe, coaching conversations focus on the "what," and are substantiated with data/facts. There is little discussion around what the employee is doing right, as this is what is expected of him/her.

·         Interact regularly and informally with employees, discussing non-work topics, to get to know them better. Keep coaching conversation for more formal, scheduled meetings.

·         Give thoughtful consideration to the duration of the meeting. Does it require 30 minutes, or can it be done in 10?

Thanks to Ellucian for hosting this month's meeting!

A little about our host: Ellucian operates 24/7/365 and creates solutions and services that are tailor-made for higher education—boosting performance, reducing risk, and improving the user experience at colleges and universities around the world.