"The vast majority of learning occurs on the job; and, despite their best intentions, managers do not take advantage of 'coachable moments,' when instruction has the greatest impact." Harvard Business Review, July-August 2008
Do you know a coachable moment when you see one?
As a leader, people will come to you to let you know when they make a mistake. In many cases, you will determine (in a split second) that this was not a mistake of carelessness. It was not a mistake of haste. It was a gap in knowledge. You will determine that learning occured and are comfortable that the same mistake will not happen again. You listen. You nod. You send them on their way.
STOP - Coachable Moment!
Did you see this coming? I missed this recently. Although I did not see it in our 60 second conversation, I later heard how upset someone had been by a mistake they made. I did not stop what I was doing long enough to provide her the opportunity to process this with me and, in this case, that would have been very valuable to her.
These coachable moments, they go both ways.
Believe it or not, there is going to be a time when you discover that someone is not doing something you thought they were doing, they way you thought it was being done. You communicated your expectation, yet the follow through was not what you had in mind. Bottom line, someone was not doing what they should (!) be doing." I will go find that person and set this straight," you say.
STOP - Coachable Moment!
Think about the reasons why a reasonable person would have done whatever it was that was done. I did so recently. This is not the first time this type of concern has been expressed to me. A little concern raised here, a little venting there, all part of day-to-day business in a crazy department. The concerns usually come and go and are soon replaced by other things. This time, however, this one is staying with me.
Why? Because I may be part of the problem. Through my communications, I may be creating the space for the one thing that really bugs me , pass and drop responsibility. Yikes.
In any given moment, a person is faced with a variety of options and in the face of these options, makes a choice. I expect them to make the choice that is consistent with what we said we were going to do and how. I expect them to defer on the side of doing more vs. doing less. I expect them to follow an action through to completion.
My expectations are precise but, at times, my communications are not. They will be.
Leadership. What a ride!