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So You Want to Coach Your Staff? It’s Easier Said than Done

Mar 14, 2012

Posted by

Nathan Jamail

Nathan Jamail, President of the Jamail Development Group and author of "The Sales Leaders Playbook," is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director for Spr Read more

When asked, many real estate brokers and business leaders are quick to say they coach their sales staff.  In reality, after showing what activities they are to do and breaking them down, it is really clear they are managing, not coaching -- perhaps eight out of ten brokers or trainers are guilty of this.

Why is coaching any better than managing?  Why, for that matter, is it even important?  The same reason education is important -- to prepare people to be successful.

A person can be successful without a college degree, and a brokerage might be a success without coaching, but just like a college degree, coaching gives a person more opportunities to succeed.  The definition of success is when “preparation meets timing.” My definition of coaching is making “preparation intentional.”

The struggle with coaching in business is that it contradicts managing in almost every aspect.  Although there are many differences between the two, in this article I will discuss three key differences that can be identified with three questions.

Question 1:

Whom does a leader/broker/trainer spend most of the time with on a daily basis and why?

Most typical leaders will say that they leave their top performers and veterans who know what they are doing alone so they can spend most of their time with those who are struggling.  A coach in sports does the exact opposite.  Coaches work with the first string the majority of the time, and spend less time with the second and third strings.

Let’s look at football during spring training camp -- all of the rookies are incorporated in with the first string until the coach determines where they belong after spring training.  Some will stay on the first string or third string and the others will be placed on the bench or cut from the team altogether.

Leaders in real estate can and should do the same thing.  They should work with new hires to make sure they are prepared to be successful, and then determine if they are going to be a starter or on the bench (or not a fit at all).  An employee should know his or her placement and why.

Coaches, unlike many leaders in business, know that to build a winning team they cannot accept the 80/20 rule.  So why is the 80/20 rule acceptable in business?  There’s a simple answer:  It is still in place because it is easier to manage the company than to coach it to excellence.

There are two real world facts that affect our team’s success.

Fact 1:  What we focus on grows.  If a broker-owner focuses on the weakest employees, the number of weak players will grow, and if a coach focuses on the strongest players, then the number of stronger players will grow.

Fact 2:  A professional can always improve.  Improving means being coached and developed, not managed.  If you want to coach your people, then spend your time with your strongest players (agents) and commit to helping them get better.  If a couple of employees are generating the most results, then you and the organization owe it to them to give back to them, and not merely thank them by leaving them alone.  A leader may think the employee wants to be left alone -- but this is truly not the case.

Question 2:

When do leaders, brokers and trainers get actually involved with the sales team?

Most live by the rule:  “I let my people do what they need to and only get involved when I have to.”  This is managing by reaction.  If a leader only gets involved when there is a problem or when a person can’t handle a situation on his or her own, the involvement of the leader is viewed as a negative consequence of poor performance.  Such a reaction doesn’t allow for personal growth for that individual.

A coach is involved all the time, and works with the employees prior to events and issues by developing practice programs.  Nearly all athletes say they need their coaches and that their coaches have helped them become what they are today, but some don’t always want a coach or want to be coached.  And this is true of business people, too.  Many business people will agree they can get better and could benefit from coaching, but would rather be left alone (or think they would).  The difference here between business and sports is that coaching in business is an option in many organizations.  It’s

not an option in sports and it shouldn’t be an option in business!

Coaching is not Micromanaging

Micromanaging is something most employees do not want nor need.  Micromanagers always require approval.  Coaching does not require approval but it does require preparation.  Coaching ensures success, while micromanaging often ensures a minimum of achievement.  Somewhere in the middle of these is managing.  A leader cannot coach someone if his or her involvement is viewed as a negative.  The leader’s involvement needs to be a reward to those who work hard and deliver the best results, and not a consequence for those who do not deserve the help, but need it.

Question 3:

How does a broker or leader handle conflict?

Most managers want to avoid conflict or will recognize a small problem and hope it simply will go away; however, regrettably, more times than not, conflict turns into a huge problem.  Managers do this because it is human nature to avoid conflict.  A coach must embrace conflict.  The right conflict is good.  If a leader’s intent is to make someone better, conflict can’t be wrong.  Managers struggle with hurting a person’s feelings and, in fact, will make excuses for a person’s weakness to justify not having to confront the person.  I challenge all managers and leaders to remember the person who impacted their life the most -- did that person let them just get by or did he or she challenge and exhorted them to be better?  Embracing conflict is a leader’s job and not to be neglected or avoided.

Not every broker, trainer or leader of some sort needs to be a coach, but if one wants to be a coach (and a winner) he or she can’t let typical managing get in the way of coaching.  The next time leaders say they want to coach their people, I challenge them to ask themselves how they would answer the above three noted questions.