Imagine for a moment that you wanted to get better at playing golf. (Humor me for a moment if you don’t.)
Most people who seriously want to get better at golf will quickly find themselves at a local golf course, hiring a golf professional for lessons. Say you try this and it goes something like this:
The golf professional introduces himself and takes you out to the driving range to practice hitting golf balls. You get a large bucket of balls and starting hitting them down the range.
The first ball you hit goes exactly three feet.
You try again and this time manage to hit one that goes forward. Again, about three feet. A few shots later, you hit one that goes more like 30 feet, but veers hard to the right, outside the range.
As you do this, the golf pro sits behind you, carefully observing and writing detailed notes that document everything you are doing right and wrong. He doesn’t interrupt.
This goes on until you empty the bucket of balls. Once you do, the golf pro calls you back and you sit on the bench while he reviews all the things he noticed you do well and also where he thought you could improve. The conversation eventually wraps up with him saying, “Great job, I’ll see you next week and you can start to work on a few of these areas.”
You decide to try out a different golf pro, so you go to different course and start a lesson with someone else. She also takes you down the the range and has you start to hit some balls. Just like last time, the first one goes backwards.
However, this time the pro says, “Before you hit the next one, it looks like your knees are pretty stiff. Let’s have you bend your knees a bit when you are swinging. That should help.”
It doesn’t. You don’t even hit the ball. The club goes right into the dirt.
“That’s normal,” she offers. “You’re doing something new and retraining your mind and body. It will get worse before it gets better…but now you’re on a better path.” She continues to encourage you verbally on bending your knees after each shot. She praises you when you do it well and also points out when you don’t.
Towards the bottom of the bucket, you suddenly hit a ball straight down the driving range, almost 100 yards – better than you’ve ever done.
You hear her say one word:
If you worked with both of these golf pros, which one would invest time and money in? Which one would help you learn to play golf faster?
Whenever I share this fable with leaders, almost everyone says they’d prefer the second golf pro; the one that gave consistent feedback, coaching, and encouragement.
This begs the question: which kind of coach are you?
Are you the kind who agrees to help, then sits back and records what you see for the rest of the review period? Do you simply provide a thorough report of everything you’ve observed (good and bad) on the next performance review?
Or, are you the kind who gives consistent feedback, regular coaching, and provides encouragement through obstacles?
[reminder]What shift can you make that will provide others with better support as they are learning new skills?[/reminder]