Coaching as a management method is supported by highly regarded management theories. Daniel Pink's research demonstrated that we are motivated by autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives. Charles Clinton Spaulding writings and work demonstrated his belief that a strong organizational culture that supports employees intrinsic motivation promotes progress. Amabile and Kramer showed we are motivated by progress toward meaningful goals. Chris Argyris wrote that employees will make the most use of their own potential when they have influence. The independence necessary to develop a deep interest in and a long-term perspective toward their work. Victor Vroom's expectancy theory states, employees are motivated when they believe, their efforts will produce expected or superior performance results which will lead to an outcome they desire. Notice the effect is multiplicative. Henry Mintzberg wrote that to learn employees need opportunities to practice, combined with systematic feedback on their performance. Many other management theories promote the same ideas. Employees are most likely to work to their potential but they have influence over the work and when the work environment supports their internal motivation. Coaching is that theories in action. The characteristics of coaching conversations are designed to ensure the conversation itself is a practice space. Consider sports or music. Everyone knows that to make the team or the orchestra, you have to practice. Practice gives people an opportunity to make mistakes to try new things, a new play, a new skill, a new move, and often, we fail. In fact, we seek to fail, because that is the only way to know when we have gone beyond our capabilities. The goal of practicing is to learn, improve, and grow. If you are succeeding at more than 80 percent of what you are trying, it is time to try something more challenging. We learn from failure so that when we're in the game or the race, or the arena, or the performance, we can use what we learned. Some work environments are all about the competition or the performance all the time. Employees are in the arena all day every day and it is always the middle ground. Without the space to practice, we do not give our direct reports the opportunity to try out new ideas to test themselves on something that is a little bit tougher. They neither feel allowed to fail nor do they have a process for learning from failure when it inevitably occurs. Coaching creates a practice space at work. It is a safe space within which direct reports can try new things, fail, learn and try again. Moreover, it is a space where your employees can disagree with you, the boss, so that you do not miss opportunities and threats. A coaching conversation is an interactive exchange. It is not didactic. It's not how to conversations. If someone comes to you with a problem and you solve that problem for them, you are not coaching. When we tell someone what to do and how to do it, we are not coaching. Sometimes you have to do those things as a manager. You have to delegate both the task and the method for completing it. We will learn about those in this course as well. Not every conversation with every employee can be an opportunity to coach. But if you want to coach E, the person being coached to learn, or you want your team to develop new skills or improve its processes, that you want to have a mutual exchange of ideas, one that facilitates exploration and is open to dissent. It does not just include the person or team being coached. More than half of the content is from the coach E. Ceding that control without knowing what the other person will say is very difficult for some managers, particularly new managers. What we as the coach control is not the content of the conversation, but the process of the conversation. When an employee does not share what they know because it differs from what we have said, or they otherwise feel any pressure to say yes to us when they have privately held concerns about what we're requesting or speaking about, or they only speak to gain our favor because we have sent a message suddenly or overtly, that we prefer employees who agree with us. If any of those things are in place, we have created a process loss. That is our work outcome whether in quality or quantity is reduced, not because of the lack of skilled people, not because of the lack of any resource, but solely because we do not have access to the best this employee has to offer. Managers cannot be everywhere and know everything to succeed. We have to be able to trust our employees to fill in the blanks in our knowledge and make good decisions themselves. As uncomfortable as it makes us, we need our employees to argue for positions that are different from ours. That is where new ideas come from. According to Adam Grant in his book, Think Again, it was not Steve Jobs who thought to add phone capabilities to the iPad, it was his engineers. It was not Mike Lazaridis' idea to add music to the BlackBerry, it was his engineers. Jobs listened and Lazaridis did not, and the rest is history. Now, I'm oversimplifying the differences in Apples and research in motion stories, but you get the idea. We need our employees not to just use their brains to get their immediate jobs done, we need them to have the heart, the commitment to seek opportunities, and we need to create the space to share what they see. The second characteristic of a coaching conversation is that throughout, we continually communicate respect. Some people say, I do not respect all of my employees or my respect has to be earned. Not everyone who reports to me has been working here long enough to have earned my respect. Respect is different from esteem. You do not have to hold another person in high esteem to treat them with respect. By respect, I mean, you enable other people to disagree. You let other people say what they do not know. You provide psychological safety that enables resistance to ideas. You give people a chance to fail safely and learn from failure. You keep in the front of your mind so that it shows in all you do that the conversation is about them and for them. We all intend to be respectful, but every once in awhile we say things that put up a wall. We say, why are you always late? Why don't you care enough to do a good job? When my kids would complain with an always or never like, you never let me stay up late, I would reply, nothing is always worth your parents love, nothing is never but the lack thereof. Avoid generalizations like always and never. Avoid characterizations like, you don't care, you're lazy. Even requesting characterizations or directions that are vague can be experienced as disrespectful. You're not a team player, you need to communicate more. You should act like a leader, you need to try harder. I was in a meeting with my boss who told me I was doing the work of someone at a much higher level, higher even than a vice president, he said. Sensing an opening, I said I had been meaning to ask for a promotion to vice president to which he replied, ''You don't look like a president.'' At that moment, I realized that a 100 percent of the presidents in that company were bald and bearded, characteristics I would never have. What concretely do you want the person to do? What does it mean to look like a leader? What do you mean by be a team player? For some people, team play means that when you leave a meeting, even if you disagree with the decisions that were made, you will support the decision outside of the team, or it could mean that when you have some free time, you help a teammate. Be a team player, be a leader. These are vague directives. You should see an immediate red flag. When you hear someone say, try harder, most people are trying hard already. That injunction does not help people succeed and it can feel disrespectful. We also are disrespectful when we listen with a hidden agenda as Adam Grant discussed with Brene Brown in her podcast, Dare to Lead. Most of us listen like prosecutors. We ask questions only to enable us to convince other people that we are right. That is neither respectful nor productive when coaching. Coaching conversations are characterized by mutuality. They are interactive, and by respect.