Please Shut Up! A Six-Step Coaching Tool for Managers

by KRIS DUNN

 Kris Dunn

Who is Kris Dunn? That’s an easy question – he’s the Chief Human Resources Officer for Kinetix. He’s a VP of HR type who has led HR practices in Fortune 500s and venture capital-held startups, and believes that the key to great business results is to get great people, then do cool stuff to maximize their motivation, performance and effectiveness once you have them in the door. As it turns out, that’s his simple definition of talent management.

Kris Dunn is a Partner and the Chief Human Resources Officer/Chief Marketing Officer at Kinetix. Prior to joining the team at Kinetix in 2010, Kris was a VP of People for DAXKO, a VP of HR for SourceMedical, a Regional VP of HR for Charter Communications, an HR Manager for BellSouth Mobility (subsequently known as Cingular and AT&T based on which round of consolidation you are referring to), and a Project Manager in the market research division of Aragon Consulting (gobbled up by IBM Global Services).

Kris holds a B.A in ES/Communications from Northeast Missouri State University, an M.A.E in Education from UAB and an MPPM from Birmingham-Southern College. He’s also the noted founder of The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent, as well as a Contributing Editor at Workforce Management Magazine and workforce.com, where he has written over 50 feature columns. He’s also achieved the SPHR designation from the Human Resources Certification Institute.

Webinar Transcript

Woman: Kris Dunn is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Kinetix, the RPO firm for growth companies. Prior to joining the team at Kinetix in 2010, he was the VP of People for Dexco, a VP of HR for Source Medical, a regional VP of HR for Charter Communications, and HR manager for BellSouth Mobility, and a project manager in the market research division of Aragon Consulting. [inaudible 00:00:26] that by IBM Global Services. And now please welcome to Elevate 2015, Kris Dunn.

Kris: Hey, everyone. Kris Dunn with you. Just thrilled to be part of this online event. Glad you're here, really thrilled to be presenting on coaching skills. So we've got a lot of great presenters on this online event. What I want to do is, I'm going to bring the houselights down a little bit. I'm going to try and give you something that I hope is actionable for all the managers that you support that are managing people as part of your business. So you heard a little bit of the intro. I don't have to go over this much more. But it goes without saying, my name is Kris Dunn and I'm the CHR at Kinetix. We're a recruiting firm and also frequent a couple of blogs. One is called Fistful of Talent, the other one is called the HR CapitalistT and every intro, I put that in my hoops junky, you've got to have some kind of outside interest. Mine is basketball and that's just is what it is.

So without further ado, let's get going a little bit. There're the logos for where you'll find me during the day, both at Kinetix, Fistful of Talent, The HR Capitalist. So I'm talking to you today about coaching skills and everything that I'm going to share with you is via a platform that we put together at Kinetix, we do training. First of all, we're a recruiting firm by trade. We do training as a consulting kind of product if you will. We have a series called The Boss Leadership series. It's really training for the modern manager. We get into a lot of different modules. So one of the things we do is we do this like really a lightweight, I think day-to-day coaching tool for the managers on the companies we serve. So the module out of the series is actually called Please Shut Up! The Idiot Proof Coaching Tool For Managers. You see it there on your screen. And one of the reasons we call it Please Shut Up! is the fact that we know just through our own experiences and the research we've done that the most effective managers are the ones who just don't tell people what to do. They actually engage people in a conversation and they lead people to where they need them to be. But it's a two way conversation.

So what you're going to find when we get into the coaching tool is one of the key elements to the coaching tool we're going to describe to you today and it's a six-step coaching tool. We think, it can be accomplished many times in like two to three minutes with the people that you're coaching on a daily basis. Sometimes, it takes a little longer than that, but within that six-step coaching tool, there are at least two points where effective coaches, who are managers of people, actually stop talking and force the person that they're trying to coach to actually engage with them. And we know again, just through our own experience and also through research that you get much better results from coaching the people who report to you if you allow them to participate and if you expect them to participate. So that's why the title is Please Shut Up!

And let's go and get started, okay? We've got a couple of like warm up slides for you here. Because the first thing that we really need to do is talk a little bit about what coaching is. So, we want to talk to you a little bit about what coaching is and also what it isn't a little bit. So coaching is like a really broad term in corporate America and for purposes of this tool, the six-step coaching tool that we're going to give you today, we want to take your minds away from executive coaching, take your minds away from the professional coach, the life coach etc., etc. I'll go ahead and tell you that I don't have a lot of those in my life. There is nothing wrong with those, if you feel like those are effective tools for you personally or for the executive that you serve at your company. What this coaching tool is all about is just really a grassroots tool that's designed to be used day-to-day by managers.

So when you think about what coaching is for purposes of this conversation, think about literally the hundreds, if not thousands of conversations that really should be happening everyday within your business for your managers and people and the people who report to them. So with that description in mind, we're going to kind of build foreword from there. I've got a quote for you. This quote comes from thousands of managers in corporate America every day. The quote is, "I'm not your mom." So with that in mind, we want to develop a coaching tool and a coaching conversation that doesn't sound like the impatient mom that's told someone like a thousand different times, and that's one of the reasons why we've got this six-step coaching tool, because we want to actually engage the employee in question in a conversation. We've got like a problem that we want to talk to them about. It could be a big problem, it can be a little problem. We find the most effective coaches talk about a lot of the little correction points before there is a need for a big coaching conversations. So we think, this tool should be used a lot. So we want that two way conversations, not the one that your mom had to have with you, and if you're a mom out there, not the ones you have to have with your kids, or if you're a dad out there, the ones you hear your mom in your house having to have with your kids constantly.

It's not a one way conversation. It's two way conversation that's going to really treat the employee like they're responsible in a way that we wish probably all of our kids were. So that's the quote. Let's talk a little bit about the definition of coaching. It goes back to what coaching is and what it isn't. So now, we're talking about really what it is. And coaching for us, and I'm going to leave the statement up on the screen and then I'm going to talk through with you a little bit, coaching for us is dialogue between a manager and an employee on any component of performance that's in need of a tweak. Okay? And there is a couple of things that I want to highlight about this that really, I think are key. So coaching is dialogue between a manager and employee on any component of performance that's in need of a tweak. So let's break that down a little bit.

So first of all, I'm going to bring the things in cohort that I want to talk about over the next two to three slides. So the first thing is something I've already hit on a little bit but like a dead horse, I have to beat it. So what coaching is for us is, it's dialogue between the manager and the employee, and what dialogue means? It's not prescriptive, it's not a manager simply telling an employee what to do in any given situation. By the way, this tool works for white collar employees as well as blue collar employees. It's not specific to any kind of class of employees, if you will, or in the industry. But good coaching means that there is dialogue. So it means, there is back and forth and guess what, that means, the employee actually has to have a chance to talk, which is why we term this whole thing, Please Shut Up! Because we know, that most of what is passed off as coaching in corporate America actually isn't coaching at all. It's a manager telling an employee what to do.

So the first thing the coaching is, it's a dialogue between a manager and an employee first and foremost. Second thing that it is, if we go to the next slide is coaching really can be done on any component of performance. And when we start talking through the tool, what you're going to find with us is that we really think the smaller conversations you have as a coach, the better coach you're going to be. So any component of performance. So think, about your job, think about the jobs that report to you, and start breaking those jobs down into tens if not hundreds of little micro tasks that have to be done and be done effectively and be done with high performance in order to make someone a star employee in your company. We think any of those micro tasks really are what effective coaches coach on. Because really what we're setting you up for here is effective coaching is not the big conversation. It's literally you, as someone with direct reports probably having 10 to 20 coaching conversations in any given week. And you could have 10 coaching conversations in any given day across all your direct reports.

And what you're looking for really builds to the next slide really what you coach on is anything that's in need of a tweak. And the word tweak to us is interesting. Because when we train on this, we want to get people who have manage people out on the mindset that hey, I've got to save coaching for the big things. Well, actually you don't. If you see something that you know could be done better and you know the individual is capable of that, really effective coaching is coaching on the fly and coaching on the spot to let people know that you have different goals and there is a better way to do it and to let them participate in that. So read that whole statement again. Coaching is dialogue between a manager and an employee on any component of performance that's in need of a tweak. We highlighted some of those things. It kind of gets down like if I had to summarize this, I would summarize it by saying effective coaches, this is a very formal statement, and we broke it down for you. I would tell you that effective coaches in corporate America coach on a daily basis with almost all of their direct reports.

It's just something they do and by the way, as we go through this tool, the highest compliment you can get as a coach is that you have a coaching conversation and it feels informal and it feels accessible and the individual being coached may or may not even be aware that you're using a formal coaching tool like the one we're going to lay out in front of you. That's the highest compliment that somebody can give you. Okay, a couple of more like things just to talk about here as we go to the next slide. If you commit to coaching more often with all of your direct reports, and by the way, if you're a human capital leader that's coming into this live event and coming into all these great presentation, obviously, you're thinking about this for all of the managers and people who are present in your organization. So if you commit as a human capital leader or as a manager really to coaching in your organization, this is some of the stuff you get.

First of all, you'll have employees who actually value your input because you'll be coaching more often and it will feel less formal than it does to those employees today when you only coach when there is a big problem and at that point, it feels like discipline, it feels like they might be moving out of the company. If you coach more often, the employees are going to value you as a manager more. Next thing, you have less BS to sort through. If you coach early and often, lots of small conversations lead to less misunderstandings and less things that you just shake your head about that you can't believe you got to that point with one of your direct employees.

The other thing that it leads to is more employee ownership. You coach more often and when you coach more often on a single topic, the employees get a choice to make. They're either going to make the adjustments that you need them to make or they know that because you're a frequent coach, that you're going to be back to them with similar feedback. And one of the ways we get to employee ownership within this tool is we make sure that the employee participates in a coaching conversation, and by them participating in a coaching conversation, that naturally builds to a situation where you have more trust, and that is kind of the essence of what we want to go for. If you coach early and often, you're going to build more trust with your employees rather than if you swoop in when there is a big nasty problem that's been going on for a while.

So let's move to the next slide. I'm going to take a drink of water and let everyone just kind of soak in on the screen because this is the essence of why you don't coach more than you should in your organization. Just let this soak in. So that slide pretty much sums it up. Human beings, at least the ones who are mid to low range assertive in your organization, which is a lot of your people, hate confrontation. They hate it with a passion. We know it's a problem in our organization. So one of the reasons we're laying out this coaching tool for you is to tell your coaches and give them a methodology that there is an easier way to get into some of these coaching conversations.

So let's talk a little bit about the difference between a micro manager and a coach, because a lot of the people that are afraid of confrontation, they get feel like they're micro managing someone. So let's talk about micro managers. Micro managers in your organization try to exert total control over how work gets done in your organization. They've got a narrow focus, they've got direct reports that because of that micro management are going to really have this learned behavior to wait for that manager's direction, micro managers always talk more than they listen. They always give unsolicited advice. They dictate small and large details, and they really allow little participation in how work gets done, and they just have this natural tendency where people feel like they don't have a lot of autonomy in your organization when they're managed by micro manager.

The good news is there is a better way, right? And if you really buy in to this day-to-day coaching model, coaches rather than micro managers influence the work process and really they get two way dialogue going on an ongoing basis. So it's got a broad focus because of the coaching direct reports of coaches rather than micro managers kind of understand the broader context. Your direct reports will learn that they're really responsible to take the initiative and also to come up with some of the ideas when they face change or challenge or uncertainty. Coaches rather than micro managers tend to listen at least as much as they speak. They ask questions in place of giving advice and they give direction only when clear change is needed, and all of that added up means that means that they're going to allow for a large amount of autonomy.

So we're a little over halfway through this presentation, kind of setting the stage for you a little bit. Next thing, I want to do, so we're going to talk about two things related to coaching. And I've got a coaching tool, Please Shut Up! tool, six-step coaching tool that's coming up in just a second. Before I do that though, that's six-step coaching tool is really there for you to use when you've got corrections that need to be made. And we've already talked a little bit about the fact that we think you should use that early and often, for little things. Good coaches coach everyday rather than waiting for big things. But before we give you that tool for correcting performance, it needs to be corrected on a daily basis, [] we probably need to talk a little bit about the value of coaching good performance. Okay, one of the things that good coaches do and kind of open up the door to talk about corrections that need to be made is they make sure that there are always acknowledging good performance and even coaching on that.

So when you think about good performance, you usually think about, hey that's an atta boy, that's an atta girl. But it really transcends that. So good coaches see good performance and they do four things to coach good performance. First thing they do is they say, "Hey, way to go. Keep doing what you're doing." That's the easy way to do it, right? But then kind of the senior level version of acknowledging good performance and becoming a coach on that is they ask people to ramp it up. They see good behavior and they ask for more of it, or see they good performance and they ask for that good performance to occur more often. So you're already modifying and saying, okay, I saw something good there. I want to encourage you to do it over here too because that would be great. So they're asking for more.

Another way coaches look at good performance and trying to get even more out of it is they ask people to expand. They ask them to enhance what they're already doing well and they expand that in other areas. And then the last thing they do is they franchise that good behavior, good performance, and they ask people that apply something that's working in one area to another area, which we kind of already talked about, or maybe more importantly, they ask people to model that behavior and train others to do the same. So good coaches, much more than just recognition, they're sneaky like that, right, good coaches see good things going on and they ask people to actually expand those into other areas. Quick stat for you: in any given year, two out of three employees never get a nod from their managers about the things they're doing right, which is ultimately kind of scary. And then other research says for every 1 minute that a manager spends coaching positive behavior, on average employees will return 100 minutes of effort for that 1 minute that the manager spent acknowledging good performance and coaching on positive behavior.

So that's a tremendous return on investment and our general rule for doing that, when you see it, when you see good performance, you say it, and you're very specific with people on why it's good. So if I like the way the slides were put together and someone had help me with that, I would say, "Hey, great job on those slides. By the way, let me tell you what I really liked about them," and by doing that you're not only acknowledging with an atta boy or an atta girl, you're actually helping them understand why you thought it was good, which you'd be surprised how many times people miss that. So that's a little bit about good performance. We're going to spend the rest of our time with you today with 10, 11, 12 minutes we have taking you through the tool that we have. And it's the most valuable tool that I've ever implemented in my own professional career. It's why I'm excited to bring it to you and also to give it to you to like make it available to you to roll out with your own team in your own organization.

And I start with a quote. I told you I was a hoops junky, right? So I'm going to go right to John Wooden, "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment." And that's classic John Wooden, the former great coach at UCLA. He was a builder. He wasn't someone who tore people down, and that's an important aspect to think about with coaching. So what we think when you coach for correction, when you see something that needs to be improved, we think, it's part of three times when you coach your employees. We've already talked about when things are good, coaching for good performance. There re two other times when we think you coach. You coach when things could be better but it's not a crisis. And then obviously, you coach when things are so bad it's absolutely a crisis, and generally speaking that's so much so that there is a formal process involved.

So we think the sweet spot again where you should be coaching, spending the vast majority of your time, coach the good behavior but then that circle kind of like lays out a philosophy. Coach when things could be better but it's not a crisis. So when you see it, get into the tool we're about to ready to give you on a daily basis, because you don't want things to escalate and get to the place where it feels like a crisis, because then it's very hard to unravel on any level of performance. Couple of coach killers for you. Never wait to coach, because the more you wait, the less impact your coaching has. You really have to coach within 24 hours of observing some type of performance item that could be corrected. Second coach killer, that's why we're going to get into this coaching tool, is [inaudible 00:22:35] specifics. The more specific you are about what you see, the better off your coaching is going to go.

And the last thing, and then we're going to get into the tool with the seven, eight minutes that we have remaining, is this is like my viewpoint, only suckers customize their coaching approach. So when you're looking to coach on a daily basis, we're going to give you a six-step tool because you can't really afford to adjust your technique every time. So what we're going to encourage you and if you take this to your organizations to do is to really think about using the six-step tool, make people memorize this tool and then make them deliver it within their own personality. If they can remember the six steps, they can have an incredibly impactful coaching conversation with anyone at any level in their organization and they can still clear up some coach killers that we'll talk about at the end of this as well.

So let's talk to you a little bit about our idiot proof two minute coaching tool, the Please Shut Up! Okay? These are the six steps. And we'll break them down over the remaining minutes we have in this presentation. So pretty easy. The first thing you do, if you get into this six-step coaching tool, it can be accomplished in two minutes with a lot of things you would see in a daily basis. Step one, state what you've observed, step two, you wait, you shut up. You wait for a response. Three, you're going to remind them of the goals within the area of your question. Four, you're going to ask them questions and shut up again. Three, you're going to agree together, which is kind of a restatement of the conversation you just had with the employee and then number six, is you always want to close upbeat, because you want to be a positive coach, you want to be a John Wooden not a fill-in-the-blank with whatever coach you know, tears down people instead of building them up.

So let's go through each one of these steps real quick. First thing you want to do when you're coaching for something that needs to be corrected is you want to state what you've observed. You want to be clear and brief. There is that 30 second time limit on stating what you've observed and you want to provide at least one example. Where you'll mess this up is you'll give generalities or you'll go way beyond the 30 second limit. Graduate level, you want to get it done in 10 to 15 seconds. I'll give you an example from my own life today. I would say to someone, "Hey, some of the content we're putting out in your department seems to be a little light. Let me give you an example of that." So that would be my statement and I would get in and out of that within 30 seconds. So step one is state what you've observed.

Step two is once you've made that specific statement, you want to wait for a response and you want to stop talking. And it really can be the toughest thing because most coaches are designed to make a statement about what they've observed and automatically revert to telling them how to fix it. You can't do that. You've got to stop, and where you'll mess up is you'll say too much in step one and you'll be prescriptive of how they need to fix it. Remember in step one, you're just making a statement. And then you're going to stop. You're not going to lead the witness, and silence is golden. Don't be afraid to use up to 10, 15 seconds of silence and make them talk. They're going to say something. And when they say something it may be very impactful. It may not be very meaningful at all, and that takes us to step number three of the six-step coaching tool.

Once you make a statement and then you shut up, you allow the individual you're coaching to talk, step three is to remind them of the goals. And that's probably what you need to work on in your prep. You need to work on that initial statement. You need to remind them of what the goals are in that area of performance and you probably need to rehearse this. Okay? So I gave you the example earlier, "Hey, I noticed that some of our marketing content is a little light. I think you could be a little more specific about what we're after with some of our recruiting customers." Then I would stop talking. I would let that person respond and then I would get into it, "Well hey, so the goal of the content we put out is to make people aware of how we can help them solve their recruiting problems and how we understand that. So with that in mind, what can we do with the content we're putting out in the marketing department to connect better with people?"

And that's kind of the whole step of hey, remind them of the goals. What's our goal with this little piece of performance, and then when you do that, you get to step four, I'm changing slides with you is, and I already went into that. You're going to say, "Hey these are the goals, this is what we're after in this area." Now, that's golden question is what you see in second bullet. What can you do differently in moving forward? That's our goal, what can you do differently moving forward, and what you're going to do, remember, you're going to ask questions and then you're going to let that teammate again, you're going to stop talking. You're going to let the teammate, your direct report actually tell you. And where you'll mess up is you will again, lead the witness. You'll say, "Hey those are our goals, wouldn't it be great if we could do this, this and this?"

You don't want to do that. Because behavioral science shows that the more someone who you're coaching comes up with solutions, the better chance you have of getting behavioral change and performance change in that. And be ready. You may have to say, "Well, what about, what can we do in this area or that area to change our course of action?" So you may have to lead them a little bit but you want to lead them without actually telling them what to do. Once you do that and you feel like you've got what you need, you move to step five, which is really agreeing together, which is really a closing statement on what you agree to do moving forward. So that summary is delivered by you, the manager.

So what you would say there is you would say, "Okay, I like what you're saying. So what I understand the next time, you're presented with this situation, what I hear you doing is you're going to do A, B, and C." And then you ask for agreement from the team member. You basically say, "Is that what you're going to do? Is that what I understand? Am I understanding correctly?" And you ask for an acknowledgement to the team leader. Don't phrase it as a question until you get to the end and say, "Did I understand correctly?" And the graduate level of this, [inaudible 00:29:34] is you can make the employee summarize what's been agreed to. We want the manager to be in control of that in the early stages of them using the tool. So we don't think you want to go that way originally.

And then step six to the coaching tool is you really want to close upeat. So let's go to the coaching tool real quick. I've stated what I've observed. I've then shut up and let them say something. Kind of respond to it, if you will. Good stuff will come out of that, bad stuff will come out of that. Step three is I'm going to remind them of the goals. What do we want to accomplish in the area that I'm coaching them? And then I'm going to ask them questions. I'm going to say, "With those goals in mind, what can we do differently moving forward?" They're going to give me some stuff, I'm going to lead them to where I need them to be. Then I'm going to really frame it up and it's kind of state what they've told me they're going to do. They agreed to that and then I'm here, I'm close upbeat, and it's something like I say, "Hey, you're a good performer. I know this is an area that you struggle a little bit in, but you're good in all these different areas. So I know that you're going to get this right moving forward. It's not a problem." You do that in the most informal, uplifting way that you can. And that's really the six-step coaching tool. I've got about 30 seconds left. A presentation for another day as your managers are going to struggle when employees come back to them and they give them the following side tracks. Okay? Rather than talking about their own accountability and their own performance, they will say things, "Well what about them?" which is other people in your company. What about you? You do things that are counterproductive to this thing as well. They'll say, "Hey, my tools stink, I need better tools. The customer or client stinks. My life is messed up." There is a lot of different side tracks, and what you want to train your managers to do is go to the six-step tool and you want them to memorize the six steps. And always bring them back to their own accountability, which is what can you do differently.

Step four, based on what I just outlined for you, what I observed, what can you do differently? So put all these side track aside, what can you do differently later today or tomorrow to improve in this area? And the next step in the six-step coaching tool is for you to take that slide that shows the six steps, memorize it, and then use it the next time you've got to coach somebody on the fly. And practice those six steps. Practice more importantly shutting up when you need to, and if you do that, you're going to have a lightweight coaching tool that's going to help you in your own career. And if you want to roll that out to other people in your company, it's the best tool I've ever seen to give you a coaching methodology that's lightweight enough for people to memorize but still deep enough and meaty enough to really lead someone through a coaching conversation and get to good outcomes.

My contact information is up on the slide. Based on the blogs, I talk a lot of shop with a lot of people. I'm not trying to sell you anything. So reach out to me if you want to learn more. And with that, I'm going to take it back to our host to this great event, and we'll get you the next speaker.