5 Steps To Better Coaching
September 25, 2012
Like most things about our business, effective coaching is both art and science, but if you follow these five steps, I think you'll find your talent more responsive.
Waking up at 3:30a, day after day, year after year, takes a toll, both physically and emotionally. Doing a morning show isn't easy. Doing a really good morning show takes more talent, preparation and dedication than I ever had, and its not an admission of weakness to acknowledge that.
Your talent has to know you respect the difficulty of the task, that your goal is to make them even more successful, and that you will always have their backs.
LISTEN, EVERY DAY
Seems obvious, but you'd be surprised (or maybe not) how few PDs and GMs actually listen to their own stations. You won't have much credibility if you listen sporadically. This is why you get paid, so listen every day ... and make sure your talent know you do.
It won't make any difference how skilled you are if what you say falls on deaf ears due to defensiveness. Some talent is defensive because of bad coaching early in their career, and this is where establishing trust in you is the first and most important goal.
One key: Don't just point out what's wrong. Compliment them on what they did right.
Suggestion can sound like criticism, and I've never met anyone yet who enjoys being criticized, but at some point, the talent has to want to be coached. They have to be willing to receive feedback and discuss change. Simple as that.
Coaching isn't just criticizing; it's not just stopping something you don't like. It's teaching how to do something better, something consequential enough that ratings go up.
It's always easy to second-guess a bit after it happens, but great coaches find structural changes that always make the mechanics a bit better. There is a structure to funny. There is a structure to emotional payoffs.
Your coaching sessions will be more effective if you master the technical parts of effective communication. If you don't know how to do this, perhaps you should begin with hiring someone to teach you.
Admitting you don't know it all is a great sign of strength and self-confidence, and you become a more valuable asset to your company when you learn these skills.
Change is scary for most people. Your talent needs to know you will allow them to experiment and fail. They can't hit a home run if they're afraid to swing.
Most good talent knows when they've screwed up a bit, and don't really need you to point out a failure UNLESS you can show them a better way, and even then, frame your comments with sensitivity and compassion.
One of my own former coaches once gave me this quote, from Baltasar Gracian:
"When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see."
I can still do a better job with this one, and I've been at this a long time, so be patient with your talent -- and yourself -- and understand this is a process, not a destination.
Who's the best talent and programming coach you've ever known, and what did s/he teach you? I hope you'll share in the Comments section below.