Want to know three perfect ways to get a training session with one of your associates off on the wrong foot?

  • * Engage with your phone and email more than the person in front of you
  • * Judge the situation based on past experience
  • * Go into your coaching session without a plan


These are surefire ways to get your team to shut you out before you even get a chance to open your mouth. On the other hand: If you’d like to make the most of your coaching sessions and gain respectful and mutually beneficial relationships with team members, engage fully, use forethought before each session, and let go of any paradigms and judgments that may hinder you from seeing the situation clearly.

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The idea of showing up to each meeting seems simple. That is, until you consider how often dinging text and email notifications draw your ears and eyes away from the person in front of you. In a world of mobile phones and expectations for instant responses, showing up physically and mentally becomes increasing difficult—but important. By scheduling a meeting and sitting face to face with a sales pro, you’ve already shown up physically. But there’s a bit more to the story. It’s time to show up mentally. In a society of chronic multi-taskers, turning everything off and tuning into the conversation at hand sets you apart unlike anything else. Knocks on your office door and other distractions are inevitable, but you can do your part by turning off your cell phone, closing your e-mail, and telling your coworkers that you are not to be disturbed during your coaching sessions. This simple gesture of intently focusing on the task at hand will go further to establish a respectful relationship with your team than you can imagine. Tune the world out and tune them in!

Let’s take this concept further because even if you show up physically and engage mentally in the coaching session, it will fall short if you don’t have a plan and purpose for the time. Take a few minutes before each session to ask yourself what behavior you want to teach or belief you want to instill. Consider how you want the employee to feel when the session is over. Think of some questions you can ask in order to get to the root of the struggle(s) they are currently facing. Thinking about what prompted the session will guide your approach. If the session was prompted because the employee had unusually high cancellation rates or received multiple complaints of a negative attitude, your approach will be different than if you simply have suggestions for a particular part of their sales process. Knowing what is going on in their world and what outcome you want to accomplish will provide your why behind the coaching session and will allow you to consider how you will explain or “sell” an idea or a solution.

I am a big fan of using forethought, but with that I must always include a word of caution. Sometimes, if you lock on to the goal you want to accomplish or to what you believe the issue is, this will create blind spots (judgments) so that you can’t have an open mind. Whenever you lock on to what you believe, you’ll “lead the witness” to admit everything you believe–even if you’re completely wrong in your diagnosis. Have an open mind to their explanations and points of view. You have to be prepared and have forethought, but also balance. Don’t fall into the trap of only seeing the world through one pair of glasses. Even worse is going in with the belief that the person is incapable of learning or changing. We are all capable of changing and growing. The minute you stop believing that is the minute you become a detriment to your department rather than its biggest asset.

As a coach who is striving to be the best you can be, take these simple steps to make sure you get the chance to be heard by your employee. Be present in your coaching sessions. Use forethought. And never ever let your preconceived judgments answer questions before you’ve even had a chance to ask them.