Coach!

Coach!

Last week I spoke about the importance of celebrating the little wins, and the aside of punishing things (big or little) in private. But really, those are both just two facets of a much larger gemstone.

This is your team, and you’re their coach. So coach!

What is coaching? Coaching is celebrating the wins, and bemoaning the losses — but then moving beyond the losses and getting ready for the next battle. It’s coming up with a strategy, teaching the tactics that apply no matter what strategy you’re using, putting the right players in the right positions, hiring experts for places where you aren’t, and continually striving for excellence.

But that’s all high-level stuff. When we get down into the weeds, what is coaching, really? It’s taking every opportunity, no matter how small, to perfect things. It isn’t praise and it isn’t criticism — it’s teaching. Take every chance you get to spend time with your team, and focus on the little things.

What’s hard about coaching, and why don’t more managers do it? Because if you’ve never been a sports coach, then doing the things a coach needs to do can feel pretty unnatural — maybe even a little insulting. You told your staff to use open-ended, probing questions. Then you told them again. Then you told them a third time. Now it feels like if you tell them again, either they’re idiots or you’re an idiot. I mean, how often do you really have to repeat yourself?

But guess what? When a kid first shows up at Pop Warner football, the coach tells the kids on the line to stay low. And their high-school coach tells them to stay low, every practice. And their college coach tells them to stay low, every practice. And guess what their NFL coach tells the linemen every day?

NFL players are some of the best athletes in the world. They’re already staying low. The coach is telling them to stay low, not because they forgot to do it, because he wants them to push their limits and do it even more. The same thing holds for your sales reps.

Take every opportunity you can to reinforce the basics. Treat every phone call, every email, every interaction as a learning opportunity.

That’s coaching.