CooHowt 10-05-065

How to Be a Great Coach

24 Lessons for Turning on the Productivity of EVERY Employee


Marshall J. Cook

McGraw-Hill, 2008 pp.   ISBN 978-0-07-159136-2


Marshall Cook is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of several other books.  This is a very short book of condensed tips on managing employees for effectiveness.  Here are some of the suggestions.


“These days, the effective manager reaches their goals by coaching employees to peak performance.” (1)


Your workers are all motivated by the need to achieve, the burn to learn, and the craving to contribute.  (9)


Involve the people you work with in the decision-making process.  “How do you think we should handle it?” can be one of the most important questions you ask. Listening is just as important as asking.  Give them full attention.  Ask follow up questions.  (13-14)


Admit your mistakes.  Fix them and learn from them.  (18-19)


“Just having an open door isn’t enough.  Get up and get out of the office….  Be where they can find and approach you easily.”  Accept bad news as well as good news.  (22)


When you meet with the employee in your office, drop everything and give them your complete attention.  Don’t fiddle with the stuff on your desk, your phone, or your email.  Maintain eye contact.  Hear them out before you respond.  Don’t ignore their emotions.  (25-6)


Ask good questions.  Welcome complaints.  Use words that form bridges, rather than raise barriers.  Avoid clichés [like the plague].  Do not use profanity.  Not once.


“If it is broke, let them fix it.”  “If they can’t fix it, fix it with them.”  (46)


“Foster independence.  Provide knowledge, information, and most of all, trust.”  Get out of the way and give them room to work, make decisions, and accept consequences.”  (50)


Solve problems together.  “Let your employees in on the initial planning and get their input throughout.  You’ll come up with a solution everybody can own.”  Of course, it takes longer. (57)


When there are performance issues, deliver the bad news personally.  Come directly to the point.  Select an appropriate time and place.  (62) 


“Hire for aptitude and attitude.  Train for knowledge.” (77) 


If you don’t know what you’re doing, employees will figure it out.  Don’t bluff.  Be open about it; but don’t stay ignorant.  Get training.  Do your homework.  (77)


Once you’ve trained someone, keep your hands off and let them do it.  Answer questions.  Give prompts.  But keep your hands off.  When they can do it without you they have learned it.  (78-9)


“Whatever you say, say it clearly and simply—and put it in the positive.” (83) 


“Reward what you want.”  “And don’t underestimate the value of intangible rewards.”  (85-6)


“Are you giving your employees regular, meaningful feedback on their work?  If not, you’re missing one of the greatest coaching opportunities and a great chance to improve employee performance.” (89)


“To be effective, feedback must be timely.”  Recognize individuals.  Be specific about what they did and how you felt about it.  Be sincere.  Praise must be genuine or it is worse than no praise.  (90-1)



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