How to Motivate Your Team with Real-Time Coaching

As a leader, you know the value of investing in the professional development of your teams. Most likely, your people received some degree of formal training or other types of education that grew their skills and competencies. But it’s equally important to provide your people on the job coaching. This effort can result in powerful professional development because your employees are getting real-time feedback. For example, you can motivate employees by catching them performing well and then speaking up immediately about it to reinforce the good behavior. It’s also about noticing opportunities to provide guidance around important corrective actions. Great leaders don’t leave professional development just to one-off trainings, sporadic seminars and annual performance reviews. They make coaching a daily habit, knowing it’s a surefire way to grow the strengths of their people and get them closer to their goals.

Here’s how to build that practice as part of your leadership routine:

1. Be Quick About It

If you noticed Susan did a great job managing a difficult discussion in your weekly team meeting, as soon as you are out of the meeting, pull her aside and give her the feedback. The faster you do this, the more effective it will be. You’ll be better able to recall exactly what she did that facilitated the success. When it’s fresh in your memory, you can easily be more specific about it, too, as opposed to generalizing her performance, which can be less impactful. For instance, saying “Susan, you did a nice job today in the meeting” is far less powerful than “Susan, you did a great job in the meeting today.  You listened to everyone’s opinions while moving them toward a solution. Great work!”

2. Make It A Learning Opportunity For All

Publicly recognizing positive performance can be a teaching moment because you can reinforce the activity or behavior you desire from your team. With the example above, you could consider calling out Susan’s excellent facilitation just before ending the meeting and using it as an example for others to follow. Or, you could shoot out a quick email to everyone after the meeting to highlight what was done right and why it worked.

3. Use Your Morning Huddles

We’ve talked about the power of morning huddles in past blogs. These give you a chance to check in with your team every morning for 10 to 15 minutes. Here, talk about goals and performance, plus address any concerns or needs for the day. Just like in sports, these quick huddles become golden opportunities to coach your people daily. You can give guidance that will help optimize both individual and team performance, and you can also work with everyone to surface, address and even resolve challenges in record time. Try to make them fun and functional so people look forward to—and don’t dread—your morning huddles. Make a point to always highlight positive performance or behaviors (and of different individuals every day) so morale stays up and the communication remains receptive.

As a leader, what’s your best coaching tip or strategy?


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