High impact performance coaching

“If a coach can’t tell you what methodology he uses – what he does and what outcomes you can expect – show him the door” Harvard Business Review

Putting aside the bizarre assumption that coaches are male and the unashamed use of a word like “methodology”, HBR are on the money. The world’s best coaches help the people they work with get ready to perform by using tried and tested approaches and a simple framework based on science, research & data. So if you want to coach performance with impact, you should do the same.

There’s a picture of the framework below and you can read all about it in the guide ‘Get ready to perform well – always’. This kitbag is about using it to coach.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

When we work with businesses, we often hear about performance coaching programmes they’re running. When we ask why they’re doing it, we’re told what “performance coaching” is, we’re told that it’s to help people get better at doing their job. So far, so good.

When we dig a bit deeper and ask what happens in coaching we find out that much of the focus isn’t strictly on performance. It’s on stuff that the person being coached (the performer) wants to work on – and a lot of that seems to be about stuff that might help them feel better, but it won’t help them perform in their roles – to do the things they need to do to deliver the results they want. And when we ask about coaching approaches or frameworks, sometimes we get some blank looks, but mostly we hear approaches like GROW or Motivational Interviewing. They are perfectly OK, but they aren’t based on the science of human performance and they don’t draw from the high performance coaching methods and approaches that we see in high performance arenas.


Performance framework

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. The world’s best coaches help people be ready to perform. That’s their only agenda and focus. They help people develop their readiness formula, use it every day and keep learning how to do that better and better.
  2. They use the framework. Every bit of high performance coaching they do will be about helping the performer be clear on their goals, what great performance needs to look and feel like in their arena and how to use and gather resources that will help them to deliver.
  3. High impact performance coaching is just about this. Nothing more, nothing less. It keeps things simple and top coaches aren’t afraid to have the same conversations and ask the same questions
  4. Good coaches use the framework to assess and understand the performer. They’ll be checking whether the performer has all four stages of the framework covered. If there’s an area they’re not clear on or are missing, that’s where they focus their coaching.
  5. They coach consistency. A coach will judge him or herself by how consistently the performer performs. That’s a great indication of whether the performer is strong in all those areas and what kind of job they’re doing to help the performer do everything they need to be always ready.

Three things to do

  1. Change your mindset (if it needs changing) to seeing yourself as helping someone get superbly ready to perform and to deliver results. All your coaching should be focused on what’s most important for the performer to get results .
  2. Use the framework to check whether the performer has clarity of goals, an understanding of the conditions and how they’ll use resource to perform and achieve their goals. Start by coaching the first part because that’s often missing.
  3. Practice, practice and practice! You’ll only get great as a coach by diving in and getting going.

A tool to get going

John’s story

John was a coach at an IT company. He worked in the L&D area and spent about half his time coaching in different areas. He loved helping people and watching them progress and get better. He used the GROW model which worked pretty well to help people work on stuff that was important to them but he felt that it wasn’t focused enough on performance. Too often he came away from coaching sessions knowing the person he was coaching was happy but wondering whether their performance and results were going to improve in a way that really mattered for the business. He also felt that this coaching approach wasn’t focused enough on helping the performer create a performance recipe that they could use, build on and repeat.

He read about the high performance framework and suddenly everything dropped into place. It was a simple formula that he could use to help people perform better. He used it to understand what they were currently doing (and not doing), and then to guide his coaching.

His coaching started to have measurable impact for the business and those people who were serious about getting better at doing their jobs sought him out. Though the ones who just wanted to feel better about themselves were slightly less keen.