Confessions of a Pee-wee Coach… and an Opportunity for Organizational Leaders

Why is coaching to improve performance so hard?

When my two sons were both younger, I had the privilege of coaching their football, basketball, and soccer teams. However, my career as a youth coach didn’t start out as well as I might have hoped.

Let’s go back in time about 10 years as I was making my debut as a pee-wee soccer coach.  You have all cringed when you’ve seen someone like me. You know the type: the guy on the sidelines screaming at a group of eight-to-nine-year-olds, telling them where to go and what to do all in the name of winning.

Of course, at the time I didn’t see myself that way. After all, coaching pre-teens in an athletic environment is easy, right?  Kids trust quickly, expect to make mistakes, love to learn and the culture on the playing field is one of constant coaching.  Besides, I cared about the boys and their friends, and enjoyed the incredible environment in which the kids trusted me and craved my coaching.

But something surprising happened. I discovered that, for better and worse, I had simply become a compilation of all of the coaches that I had experienced growing up. It would have been easy for me to continue to act like this, not knowing how poorly I was behaving but for one thing: video.

I had asked my wife to shoot video of the games so that I could watch them afterward and look for ways to help the children to improve. What I discovered instead came as a shock: it was me who needed to improve.  And those videos were the key to me learning about and improving upon my own coaching weaknesses.

This story does have a happy ending.  My coaching style evolved and I became supremely confident in my skills with the children.  I discovered how to challenge them, pick them up when they were down, and even occasionally inspire them to greatness. To this day, many of my sons’ friends still refer to me as “coach.”

From the Playground to the Board Room:

Holding Up the Mirror to Your Coaching Skills

“That’s all well and good, David, but how does that relate to me as a manager/coach at my company when I have employees who are underperforming?”

Granted, your associates aren’t children. But there are a few lessons that I think can be borrowed from my experience:

1. Build a culture of trust and constant coaching.  Encourage your people to take risks and to make mistakes.

2. Honestly assess your skills as a coach.  You likely model a compilation of the people who have coached you over the years, which may or may not be a good thing.

3. Find a “mirror” so that you can see your skills evolve over time.

Most people tell me that that third challenge – finding a “mirror” – is the most difficult in corporate settings. Companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on peer assessments, and live skill practicing with or without video capture – all in an effort to hold a mirror up to their leaders.

I’ve got good news for your budgets. Today, simulation technology offers an exceptionally affordable mirror that will enable anyone who needs it to develop and hone their coaching skills in a safe environment. Imagine rehearsing delivering difficult feedback in a range of real life performance improvement scenarios to a broad range of employee personalities.  Imagine using these newfound skills to build a culture of trust and constant coaching. Imagine the impact that your high-performing team will have on your organization. Experience the possibilities, demo the simulation now.

Pick up the phone and call the coaching specialists at Blueline today.  We’ll help you turn what you imagine into reality.

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