March 15, 2017

How Leaders Can Get Coaching Conversations Right

Ted Malley

Ted is Ceridian's Chief Revenue Officer. He was previously EVP and Chief Customer Officer, responsible for the health and happiness of Ceridian's growing customer base through its XOXO Customer Success Program. 

The building blocks of every relationship are the interactions we have with other people – whether those conversations happen via text, e-mail, phone or face to face. The words we choose and the language we use will either build more clarity and trust or create obscurity and distrust. Our intentions and statements are one thing – but our actual follow up and follow through are another.

This is particularly important for business leaders to acknowledge and embrace, since our interactions with our team and coworkers can influence organizational performance. Communicating clearly and acting on those communications and commitments will facilitate engagement and trust, letting employees know leaders will do what they say they will do.

At Ceridian, we use our Dayforce TeamRelate solution to help us better interact with the individuals we work with by understanding four main communication styles. Below is a quick summary of each style, and an example of how a coaching conversation can differ based on the style of the individual:

  1. Encourager
    The Encourager loves big, fun and expansive ideas and needs a story to be able see their part in it. Employees with this communication style don’t typically shy away from conversations – though there are certain qualities that will make a coaching conversation with them more productive.

    For example, leaders should think big picture when conversing with these types of communicators – and bonus points if they can illustrate their points using a story. Whereas other personalities may prefer a boiled down, straight-to-the-point approach, Encouragers find discussions more meaningful if they are able to draw connections between how their role plays into the bigger picture and they see the possibility of fun and adventure ahead.
  2. Director
    The Director loves Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) and is motivated by the challenge to accomplish the impossible. Directors like the opportunity to take control and establish authority and they favor interactions that are straightforward and founded in facts, rather than emotions or opinions.

    To ensure the Director grasps the most important takeaways of a coaching conversation, managers should avoid sugar coating things and, instead, get right to the point. Furthermore, rather than beating around the bush or simply listing off the things that the employee could be doing better, it would be beneficial for the manager to state the desired objectives and goals as a challenge – giving them autonomy and empowering them to come up with a strategy to achieve those goals.
  3. Facilitator
    People with this communication style are driven by peaceful relationships and are advocates for environments where each person is represented and feels heard. Whereas the Encourager may be openly enthused to talk with a manager, the Facilitator errs on the more reserved and quiet side. These people are particularly good listeners and, as such, like when those they are in conversation with make an effort to hear them out in return.

    Managers should aim to keep the nature of these conversations friendly, gentle, and calm. Perhaps more so than any other type of communication style, conversing with a Facilitator requires a careful consideration of feelings and emotions. Asking the right questions will draw out the Facilitator and engage them in the challenges ahead. Giving them ample time to plan their work will yield the best results.
  4. Tracker
    If an employee is a Tracker, then he or she is likely someone who is engaged by details and complexity, constantly seeking to attain the perfect execution of functions.

    During coaching conversations, leaders should expect these individuals to want to dive as in-depth as possible and ask a lot of questions. People with this communication style are inclined to iron out every detail to ensure they both understand and are understood. The generalized, broad-stroke picture painted for the Encourager, for example, won’t hit home with the Tracker.

By understanding the different communication styles of each individual and adapting the coaching conversations, executives and managers alike will be better able to deliver personalized feedback in a way that will energize and inspire their workforce.

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