Tracy Nelson
Tracy Nelson (left) shares coaching insights during CUNA Management School.

5 ways to do coaching wrong

Don't be a micromanager, says leadership expert Tracy Nelson.

July 18, 2019

Coaching done properly is a “positive, skill-building, confidence-affirming process that’s only occasionally and sparingly about correction,” says Tracy Nelson, vice president of learning and development, Center for Professional and Executive Development at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, and a former credit union human resources leader.

Poor or inadequate coaching can have the opposite effects.

“Talk about what you want to see, not on correcting behavior,” says Nelson, who addressed CUNA Management School in Madison, Wis., Tuesday. “Then, affirm positive action and behavior.”

She cites five types of ineffective “coaches” who get the process wrong:

  1. Cheerleader. This person makes broad, vague, enthusiastic statements with no specific guidance or affirmation of what the employee did well.
  2. Referee, who waits for employees to make mistakes so he can run interference, call a penalty, and tell staff about every mistake they make.
  3. Busy bee. This manager is too busy to provide direction, guidance, or feedback, leaving employees to fend for themselves.
  4. Micromanager. Employees can’t make a move without this person breathing over their shoulder and telling them exactly what to think and do.
  5. “Do it yourself.” This leader expresses confidence while sending employees off with vague direction and no understanding of what good performance looks like.

“Catch employees doing something right, and reward desired behavior,” Nelson says. “When you see it, say it. Fill their cup so when you have to provide corrective feedback you already have a relationship with the employee.”

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