7 Myths All Coaches Need to Avoid Falling For

I am a big sports fan. If I had the time, I would watch and play sports much more than I currently do. As a fan, I want to see my teams win. More importantly, I want to see my teams win more frequently than their rivals, especially when they play each other.

Winning in sports, especially at the highest level, is not easy. It takes talented players who work hard and play with passion. It takes everyone on the team working together. It takes some luck and, at times, some things to just go your way. And most importantly, it takes great coaching.

Success seems to follow great coaches like John Wooden, Don Shula, and Pat Summitt. Each of these coaches has led many teams to the highest levels of success. They are able to attract talented players, help them work hard, develop them through great systems, and put their teams in situations where luck can fall their way. Most importantly, great coaches inspire their team members to want to be great.

Just as success seems to follow great coaching, when things are not going right, the coach is the one who takes the blame. That is because the coach is the key to nearly everything that is happening on that team. Team success is directly tied to coaching success.

Great coaches are needed in sports and they are also needed at your credit union. Here are seven coaching myths that may keep you, or your coaching team, from helping your credit union achieve the highest levels of performance and success.

I need to spend most of my coaching time with my lowest performers

It isn’t uncommon for a sales leader in a coaching role to use most of their coaching time working with the lower performers on their team. The coach believes that they can turn or change the low performer by spending time with them and working on things they need to be doing but are avoiding.

Sometimes a coach can be caught up in the cycle of excuses low performers create around them. I mean the “If only (fill in the blank) was different, then I would perform” lines that never end, keeping the coach distracted and working towards a no win situation, and the low performer free from accountability.

A sales team member may be performing below performance levels for many reasons, such as being new to the role, distracted or dealing with difficulties in their personal life, or just not being cut out for the role. It’s imperative that as a coach you assess where the challenge lies. Is it a “skill” issue: does the team member lack the skills to succeed? Or is it a “will” issue: does the team member lack the desire to succeed?

When there is a “skill” issue, a team member will generally be open to coaching, apply the coaching, and commit themselves to success.

However, when coaching does not result in positive improvement, and it is clear the team member is not taking initiative, it is a strong indication that the team member has a “will” issue. Additional indications of “will” issues are that the team members believe they have permission to refuse to meet the expectations because they don’t agree with them, they feel it is unfair, or they simply refuse to put into practice what they have been asked to do. And as mentioned above, endless excuse making it an indication the will to succeed is missing in the team member.

In these instances, many coaches think that more time and attention will fix the issue. However, the truth is that no amount of coaching is going to resolve this problem. Team members with a “will” issue must make the decision to succeed, adjust their attitudes, and work towards meeting the expectations they are given. If they refuse to address the “will” issue and are unwilling to apply and make the changes necessary to meet the expectations of the role, they will need a different type of coaching called “correction.”

Coaching is difficult and time consuming

“There simply isn’t enough time in the day to fit coaching in with everything else I have to do.”

This is a phrase I hear far too often. Sales leaders with a coaching role are stretched thin, and, in many situations, they have operational tasks they are expected to complete on top of their leadership duties. In some instances coaches have not been given formal training on how to coach and have not received coaching themselves. With these things working against them, most coaches will struggle.

Coaching is an essential element for team success. Without coaching, the leader’s team members are left to figure things out for themselves and will look to other means for development. This is a slow process and often leads to wasted time and effort, not to mention it creates inconsistencies in job performance. The team members simply don’t know and see enough to coach themselves.

One of the highest priorities of a leader is the development and success of each member of their team. Coaching is how team members develop, and well coached employees outperform poorly coached team members in virtually every measurement. The bottom line is coaching should be a top time priority of every leader. What else could be more important?

Every team member in a credit union should receive regular coaching. That includes coaching coaches. Certainly, a branch manager should be regularly coaching her team members on the teller line, the new accounts desk, and the loan officers. She should also receive regular coaching from her AVP of Retail Operations. The AVP of Retail Operations should be coached regularly by the VP of Retail Operations, who should be coached by the SVP or Retail Operations and so forth all the way to the CEO.

The type of coaching being given will be different based on job function and individual development level, but all employees should be coached. Only then will the organization establish a culture of coaching. Through example, all in the credit union will learn how to coach and be coached. The biproduct of this is that coaching will become a non-negotiable time priority.

Coaching means I need to know what my team member needs

Many times, coaches struggle with their coaching efforts because the solution to a given team member’s need is not clear, and perhaps not something the coach knows much about. This can cause the coach to hesitate to address a struggle and cause feelings of inadequacy in their role.

The good news is that coaches don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, great coaches often don’t have the answer, and don’t provide the answers.

Coaching is much more than telling team members what to do and how to do it. When a team member has a challenging need that neither the coach nor the team member knows how to address, coaches lead their team member through a process of discovery to help them come up with possible solutions.

In most cases, the team member has the answer to their challenge and just needs a good coach to help them identify the solution.   

I am too nice to be a coach

Leaders who have not received  good coaching often believe that coaching means micro-managing, closely monitoring their team members with a critical eye, and constantly correcting them when they do not meet the expectations. For a leader who has these false beliefs, they are bound to also believe that this kind of coaching isn’t possible for a nice person.

The good news is that coaching is not micro-managing. Coaching is collaborative development, where both the coach and the employee are working to achieve agreed upon goals and expectations. When applied correctly, the leader provides coaching with permission from their team member, and the team member commits to receive and apply the coaching that is given.  

Coaching will not always be positive reinforcement. A coach will be faced with many instances where their team member needs to hear they are not doing well, not doing their part, and need to apply more effort. Having these direct conversations doesn’t make the coach cruel, only that the coach wants to see their team member succeed at the highest level.

Coaching is about correcting negative behaviors

Coaches must address all kinds of behaviors from their team members. But effective, consistent coaching actually reduces the number of negative behaviors the leader needs to address.

Most team members want to succeed. If they are a good fit for the role and have a desire to be successful in it, their coach will focus their time refining and improving positive behavior. Great coaching leaves little room for negative behaviors to creep in and become something that must be corrected. That is because great coaching provides four essential elements to a team:

1.      Clear direction and expectations

2.      Effective training to meet expectations

3.      Consistent developmental coaching

4.      Meaningful accountability

The four elements, when applied by the coach, help to keep the team members focused on what is important and working to improve their abilities to achieve the expectations.

I must know everything to be a great coach.

Many coaches believe that in order to coach, they must be better than their team member at the task, process, or skill. While many coaches were once successful contributors, the best coaches were generally not the best or highest performers in their roles.

In the sports world, super-star athletes rarely succeed in the coaching world. In fact, being a super-star may be a hinderance. To become a super-star at anything requires hard work and coaching, but also intangible attributes such as raw talent and abilities that cannot be taught.

The best coaches are those who understand the expectations and the methods of achieving the highest levels of success possible and who demand excellent to the benefit of their team member. They are skilled developers and value the success of the individuals on their team above all else. They have an uncanny ability to maximize resources and enable their team to perform at a level higher than reasonably possible. None of this means the coach must be better than their team member at the task to which they are coaching. In fact, the two skills couldn’t be any more different.

Coaching to skills always improves performance

Like coaching low performers, coaches often misapply their time and effort when a team member is struggling to perform. Rather than properly diagnosing the team member’s need, a coach will often look first to what the team member is doing and how they are doing it for the solution. This leads the coach to address actions and skills when in fact the struggle is somewhere else in the process.

Results and performance are the byproduct of three different elements:

Attitudes/Beliefs - Processes/Behaviors - Actions/Skills

These elements must be manifested in order from left to right. That means beliefs and attitudes shape behaviors. Behaviors lead to effective actions and an opportunity us skills. Effective actions and developed skills produce results. Results define overall performance.

Great coaches diagnose their team member’s struggles through observation. This includes shadowing the team member, grading their performance, and tracking performance measurements. This outside observation and perspective help the coach to understand where the team member’s struggles originate. Additionally, great coaches will ask their team member for insights and opinions on what they are experiencing and what they feel is not working.

Equipped with this insight and information, a coach can then determine where the struggles lie and what their team member needs.

Great coaching is the lynchpin to success on any team. It is rare that a team outperforms the level of coaching they receive, or that their coach can deliver. Great coaching happens not by accident, but rather with hard work, experience, and a commitment to the success of every member of the team. Being aware of these common myths, and working to correct them, will help all coaches, both new and experienced, to focus on the right things and avoid the common pitfalls into which coaches often fall. 

About Author:

SalesCU is a credit union-specific sales training company dedicated to bringing a proactive sales approach to every credit union. SalesCU accomplishes this by providing sales consulting and training to enhance branch sales, contact center sales, outbound sales, and lending center sales. The goal of SalesCU is to empower credit unions to cultivate primary financial relationships with their members. Engage Nick Brown directly at 801-860-5807 and nick@salescu.com . Ask about his credit union specific workshops and online sales training, featured at www.salescu.com.

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