In his famous book How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie devotes a section to teaching leaders how to effectively change behavior. One chapter gives a simple tip – “Make the fault seem easy to correct.” The essence of this tip is to give encouragement when coaching rather than discouragement. A couple of things we can do during coaching which will be encouraging…
– Communicate in a way which indicates the person has the “hard part” nailed and now just needs to tweak a few details. Example – “I can tell that you have the underlying communication skills – that’s more than half the battle. Now, all we have to do is get you to ask more questions before you give a recommendation, and you’ll have this sales process nailed.”
– Keep the list of “things to fix” short so that it feels achievable. Example – “Let’s focus just on Step 1. Try it this way and see if it works better. Once you get comfortable with Step 1, then we’ll take a look at Step 2.”
Dale Carngie’s book, though originally written in the 1930’s, remains highly relevant for managers today.