The Biggest Coaching Mistake You Can Make
April 7, 2015
A loud click signaled the start of the horror. A larger than life PD awkwardly adjusts himself in a chair before leaning across the desk and firmly thumping the pause button. The room falls silent. The PD makes a throaty groan, sharply inhales and begins the verbal assassination; reeling off one long list of all the things that weren't good about that morning's show. The PD barely stops to take a breath, which is evident by the increasing redness filling his face. On the opposite side of the desk sits a cowering morning show host, startled and uncomfortable. With every criticism the host sinks further and further into their chair.
Across our industry personalities are frequently subjected to this coaching mistake - critiques where programmers focus only on the talent's failings and weaknesses. This type of coaching never makes a positive difference. It's a myth that fixing someone's weaknesses will significantly help improve their performance. At best, improving a weakness tends to only advance someone to an adequate level. They may achieve mediocrity, but never exceptional performance.
It is my belief that people's potential for growth comes from discovering and developing their strongest skills, attributes and prevalent talents. Building on someone's strengths puts them in the best position to significantly improve their performance.
Think about what strengths are for a moment; "Strengths are capacities a person has which they are instinctively good at and which energize them when practiced." People are naturally going to be more motivated when they work on enhancing their strengths. It's a lot easier to invest time and effort into something you enjoy and are already good at.
When you think about the best performers -- in any field -- you can immediately reel off a list of the things they do exceptionally well. After you have exhausted that list, you can find a fault or two. No-one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses, even those delivering world class performances. The reason those weaknesses do not hurt the world class performers is that their strengths are so profound.
When you are working with talent, help them identify their strengths and begin a coaching plan to make those strengths even more profound. Here are some questions that may help get the conversation started:
- What do you love doing on air?
- What things come easy to you?
- What things do you look forward to doing on air?
- What things do other people say you do well?
- What parts of your on air performance energize you?
The best coaching conversations are centered around discovering and building upon people's passions and strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses and shortcomings. Developing someone's strengths creates peaks in their performance, and your goal should be to raise the amplitude of those peaks.
Trying to fix weaknesses is the biggest coaching mistake you can make. Put your effort into building upon someone's strengths to allow them to stand out and differentiate themselves.