Risk & Business Magazine General Insurance Service - Page 17

The most potent way for you to coach people to success is to increase their natural ability to succeed .
Neuroplasticity describes the brain ’ s ability to form new neural connection . The more plastic someone ’ s brain is , the faster their brain can cope with cognitively challenging tasks . Your coachee ’ s ability to learn , acquire new skills and excel at cognitively demanding tasks is dependent upon their brain ’ s plasticity . Therefore , you cannot help them improve their performance to the best of your ability without taking this into consideration .
Luckily , the brain is like a muscle and exercising it increases its strength . There are two primary ways to exercise the brain :
1 . Learn new things . This can be anything from crafting to astrophysics , as long as it ’ s something you ’ re unfamiliar with .
2 . Do cognitively challenging , but low stress , tasks like mind games , riddles , puzzles , etc .
As a coach , you need to find ways to ensure your coachees are exercising their brains in one or both of those ways .
If you are coaching your direct reports , the simplest way to boost their neuroplasticity is to offer them unstructured time if they don ’ t have it already . This is a set number of hours every week that they can work on any project as long as it is somewhat related to the organization and / or use the organization ’ s existing products and / or services to create something new . Employees at companies such as Google , 3M , Inuit and others have created hundreds of valuable product offerings and features by using their company ’ s resources to solve problems and make their dream products . Even enormous breakthroughs like Twitter have been created on unstructured time .
If you aren ’ t coaching direct reports , the brain exercises you encourage your coachees to do can be dependent upon their interests . The beauty of neuroplasticity is that it improves regardless of what brain exercises people do , so learning something for a personal passion is just as effective as creating a new project for work .
Action steps :
• If it is within your ability , offer your team a set number of unstructured hours per week to work on anything . During coaching sessions , find out what they are working on and if it seems like a viable option , turn their side projects into official responsibilities .
• If your team does not have unstructured time and / or you don ’ t have the authority to make the person you ’ re coaching work on brainexercising projects outside of their time with you , help them develop a plan to exercise their brain on their own . Also , consider extending the time of your meetings to incorporate brain exercises into them .
• However , I understand that time is a scarce resource . To add additional time to your meetings without extending their length , write out updates and other information that is important but doesn ’ t necessarily need to be discussed , hand it to your coachee , and spend the time you would have used explaining that sheet doing creative activities .
In today ’ s fast-paced work environments , many people feel like their energy and attention is being pulled in a dozen different directions causing them to struggle to focus on and complete individual task . As a coach , it is your responsibility help people mute the excess noise and tune into what matters .
A study in the Business Horizon ’ s Journal found that the most effective leaders coach their teams by helping them see the big picture and structure their time to reach those goals . If you are coaching your direct reports , this includes clarifying your deliverable expectations and giving them permission to set aside non-urgent tasks .
The study also , unsurprisingly , found that the most effective coaches provide their coachees with honest and constructive feedback . This further eliminates noise by informing people what they are already great at and don ’ t need to focus on improving , opening up more time for them to focus on the areas where they do need improvement .
Research also shows that people perform better when they are given clear expectations about the outcomes they are expected to produce . The easiest way to explain what you envision for their project is to give them a list of the major action steps they need to complete it . If you plan on doing progress checks , attach deadlines to each action step so they understand how fast they are expected to work .
Action steps :
When you meet with employees , incorporate these steps into your discussion :
• Have them organize all of their current responsibilities .
• Help them determine what their primary priorities should be based on both deadline proximity and the value each project adds . With those in mind , go through their to-do list with them and eliminate any tasks that don ’ t contribute to their priorities .
To improve overall team performance , one of your primary coaching focuses should be on improving team communication . A study published in Harvard Business Review found that managers of the most successful teams emphasize communication and team engagement skills rather than fostering each individual ’ s technical skill talents . This is because teams who share mutual trust and communicate well are more likely to identify and solve problems faster than specialist teams where people focus on honing their own expertise without seeking input from others .
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