google-site-verification: google5ae98130f18ad244.html

Friday, April 19, 2019
Text Size


DEC. 13 - Reflection - Coaching After an Event

Building Future Leaders

In my most recent two articles, I’ve described how you, in your normal role of manager of others, can serve as a beneficial coach. If you would like a copy of either article and cannot locate them, just give me a call or send an e-mail to me (see contact information below).

In my most recent article, I offered suggestions for how a boss might provide coaching to a colleague or direct report before the individual takes specific action. In the article before that, I made the assertion that “Most managers don’t know how to coach.”

Today I offer thoughts about how to coach an individual in reflecting on a past action. The objective should not be a judgment on the quality of what has already occurred. Instead, the desired outcome is for the individual to consider how a similar situation might be handled differently in the future, based on the benefit of the experience just gained.

This after-the-fact evaluation process is helpful for individuals who are learning new or complex procedures. Even experienced individuals benefit from collaborative reflection, improving their technique or seeking ways to enhance reliability, quality, and even productivity.

We humans are driven by circumstances to attack problems that can’t be ignored. But it’s usually easier to let things that are “just okay” to continue as they are rather than think about how to improve them. John Maxwell, in his book Thinking for a Change, says, “Most people would rather act than think.” It is so tempting to join the rallying cry of those who prefer to maintain the status quo: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

But what if you, as a leader in your organization, want to establish a higher standard of service to your internal and external customers? How can you productively encourage individuals under your authority to subject themselves to reflective thinking about their recent performance?

Establish the environment.
Does the culture of your organization encourage feedback and a mentality of continuous improvement? Have you built a trusting relationship with those who look to you for leadership? Do you subject yourself to the same collaborative after-the-fact scrutiny that you expect of those under your direction? Have your past behaviors shown that you desire to mentor individuals toward greater success?

Assuring receptivity. No one likes unsolicited advice, so make sure the individual welcomes your coaching. Is there “demand pull” for your contribution in evaluating this situation? Does the person respect your competence in this particular subject matter? If the individual did not initiate the request for your help, allow enough time for him or her to become comfortable with the idea of your assessing what happened. Test to ensure that the individual will be truly open to your exploration.

Exploring together. Let the individual share observations first. Imagine together what the outcome might have been had a different approach been taken. (Remember that the choice of action and the execution of the plan are under the individual’s control. Once the behavior is executed, however, the outcome is NOT under the person’s control. We all experience unexpected results sometimes; not all outcomes can be accurately forecast.)

At some point after the individual’s initial energy wanes, join in so that both of you are offering observations. Acknowledge and credit that which went well. Consider options that might be tried next time and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Remember that this is a learning opportunity, led by the individual, not by you. Do not allow yourself to become a corrective parental authority leading a critique session. The individual is “trying on” potentially different behaviors, and considering something new is often uncomfortable at first. Despite any pressure you might apply, the individual will only execute well in the future the behaviors he or she can comfortably imagine.

Look to the future. Close by inviting the individual to summarize insights, describing the most desirable action to pursue next time. Offer to role-play that behavior if he or she feels that some practice would be valuable. Make it legitimate for the individual to come back for more role-plays just before the next similar opportunity actually presents itself.

Reflecting with your colleagues and direct reports on past events lets them learn what worked well and consider options for what might work better. When possible, share your collaborative learnings with others in the organization. Thank individuals for their commitment to improve their operations.

Dennis Hooper is a leadership coach, helping organizations build future leaders. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Call him at (478)-988-0237. His Web site is

Comment (0) Hits: 3408

Page 215 of 233

CLICK to SUBSCRIBE and Support Great Journalism!

Follow Us!

Coastal Empire News
Headquarters: 35 Barnard St., Suite 300, Savannah, GA. 31401.
Tel: 912-388-4692 | Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.