Jayne Hitman and Paul Robert

Create a coaching game plan

Eight guidelines to create a positive coaching culture.

August 11, 2021

Coaching is a skill that requires intention, experience, and accountability. 

Jayne Hitman, national program manager for CUNA Creating Member Loyalty™ (CML) and Paul Robert, CEO of FI Strategies, a CML strategic partner, provide insights into creating a coaching culture that serves as the touchpoint for meaningful conversations and strategy implementation.

They offer eight guidelines to enhance internal coaching efforts:

1. Coaching is a mindset

Many mangers resist coaching because it’s time-intensive and lacks measurable results, Hitman says. But she calls coaching a “gift” for employees.

“We’re sharing our time, our life experiences, our work experiences, and our knowledge to help them do their jobs better,” Hitman says. “That can be done through meaningful conversations throughout the workday in an atmosphere of trust.”

2. Leaders set strategy and coaches execute it 

Robert offers a football analogy for coaching.

“The leader is like the head coach who sets the game plan and coaches work directly with the people at each position to execute that game plan and earn wins each day,” he says.

3. Know what coaching isn’t

When Hitman asks clients what coaching is, many say it’s when managers have an open-door policy or are great at answering questions. 

“Those are fine things to do, but they are not coaching behaviors,” she says. “Coaching is about asking good conversational questions that gets staff thinking about what they’re doing.”

4. Coaching is about trust

“At the forefront of coaching is that personal one-on-one relationship,” Hitman says. “It has to be a trusting relationship to be effective. If you coach me and I don't trust why you're coaching me or your motives or ability, it won’t go very far.”

‘Coaching is like a muscle. It needs to be trained and built up over time.’
Jayne Hitman

5. Coaching is constructive and timely

When possible, coaches should give specific feedback on actions that took place the same day.

“That allows the employee to repeat or correct the action with the next member who comes in the door,” Robert says.

6. Focus on the positive

“Great coaches are positive people,” Robert says. “Rarely do you see a glass-is-half-empty-person who makes a great coach. You need to focus on the positive.”

7. Coaches care

Sincere caring shines through. “And that makes coaching easy and exciting,” Hitman says.

8. Coaching is about culture

Top-shelf coaching must be ingrained in the fabric of your culture, Robert says. “Make resources available throughout the organization and hold managers accountable in a positive way.”

Adds Hitman, “Coaching is like a muscle. It needs to be trained and built up over time.”