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Tailor Your Coaching to Specific Learning Styles Featured

An effective coach meets people where they are. As you coach your employees to develop their skills or improve their performance, set them up for success by understanding how they learn best and adjusting your methods accordingly.

Some people may prefer learning in the moment, through intense experience and goal-directed action. Others may favor retaining information reflectively, through sustained meditation and analytical thinking. Coaching will likely involve some combination of these two approaches. With people who prefer an active style of learning, for example, communicate dynamically and encourage on-the-job experiments. With reflective learners, communicate thoughtfully and allow adequate time for them to rehearse quietly on their own. By tapping into their preferred styles, you will engage employees more deeply and find an approach to learning they feel motivated to follow. As a result, they’ll make greater—and faster—progress toward their goals.

Adapted from The HBR Guide to Coaching Your Employees:

When you're swamped with your own work, how can you make time to coach your employees--and do it well? It's a common problem. But if you don't help them build their skills, they'll keep coming to you for answers instead of finding their own solutions. That kind of handholding kills productivity and creativity, and you can't sustain it. In the long run, it eats up a lot more time and energy than investing in people's development. So you really must coach to be an effective manager. Got a star on your team who's eager to advance? An underperformer who's dragging the group down? A steady contributor who feels bored and neglected? You'll need to agree on goals for growth, motivate your people to achieve them, support their efforts, and measure their progress.

This guide gives you the tools to do that. You'll get better at:
(1) Matching people's skills with your organization's needs
(2) Creating realistic but inspiring plans for growth
(3) Customizing your approach
(4) Prompting with questions before you dispense advice
(5) Providing the support your employees need to achieve peak performance
(6) Giving them feedback they'll actually apply
(7) Tapping their learning styles to make greater progress
(8) Giving people room to grapple with problems and discover solutions
(9) Engaging your employees and fostering independence.

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