Being a Coach

“Understanding is a two-way street.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

I realized today that there are significant similarities between the tools of a good personal trainer in a fitness club and a manager or supervisor in a business.

As I walked into my fitness club recently, my personal trainer greeted me, asked me how I was doing, asked about my family, and asked questions about my recent exercise and my diet. As we walked over to the treadmill, he commented that he could see I was making progress.

Soon we were walking over to another machine and he explained that we would be working on strengthening my back next. He explained the exercise, showed me how to do it, then had me try it. After I tried it, he suggested a couple of slight changes, then started counting for me as I worked my way through the reps. As I did so, he complimented me, encouraged me, and adjusted my posture as need. When I was finished, he said, “Great job!”

After repeating this process for an hour, it occurred to me that he used the same basic steps for each exercise, and that as a manager or supervisor, we could use those same steps as tools. Let’s look at those steps again:

Demonstrate personal caring. Everyone likes to know that those around them care about them. Remembering even a little about a person’s personal life can go a long way toward them feeling like more than a cog in a wheel.

Remembering the Big Picture. At my very first PT session, he asked me lots of questions about my goals and my history, then he took lots of measurements. This is the functional equivalent to developing a business plan.

Telling me WHY. Each exercise was preceded with a brief explanation of why I was doing it. Giving people this context for every assignment can make their job more rewarding and will allow them to do a better job.

Telling me HOW. Then he told me what the exercise was. This is like giving an assignment to a subordinate. Too often in supervision, this is the only step taken.

SHOWING me how. Then he led by example. We can do this in the world of business, just as he did in the world of fitness.

Reported on progress. As I worked out, he counted my repetitions. That allowed me to focus on doing a good job of doing the exercise, while giving me much desired information. Our staff can benefit in the same way.

Fine tuning. My trainer’s expertise allowed him to quickly see minor areas of improvement. By giving me immediate feedback, I was able to make rapid improvements resulting in a better work-out. He didn’t just let me fail, nor should a supervisor.

Encouragement. When I grew tired and weary, he encouraged me to keep going, reminding me that I was almost done.

Congratulations. When I finished each exercise, he praised me. When we finished the entire work-out he did so again. It made me feel good and made me want to come back. Don’t underestimate the power of a few positive words.

Yes, there are quite a few steps there, but each one need only take seconds. And even if not all the steps occur all the time, using most of them most of the time in the performance of your role as a business leader can get your team in really great shape!

Give it a try today!