An Athlete Without a Coach

Consider this…Any top athlete in any sport commits to regular and rigorous practice (think “role plays”), training for strength, precision and endurance, and the athlete often has a coach with them that understands the sport and has almost always played it at some point in their life.

Why should the field of corporate talent sourcing and recruiting be any different? At a minimum, take a lesson from the firms that are solely dedicated to research, sourcing, and recruiting. Their livelihoods depend upon the conditioning, strength, precision, effectiveness and efficiency of their players. The coaching is normally a regular fixture in these environments and, at its best, is celebrated and welcomed.

After 15 years in corporate recruiting and six years running Reveal Global Intelligence, my passion for this subject continues to grow. My experience in corporate recruiting (and current observations of the same) taught me to be concerned when I hear, “Hey, I give my people what they need, empower them to do their job, and get out of their way.” Why the concern? If someone asked me to repair the engine of the vehicle in which we were stranded in the middle of an inhospitable place, gave me all of the tools necessary to do the job, and said, “I’m empowering you to get this vehicle moving and get us out of here. I’m going to get out of your way now…” my passengers and I would be in serious trouble. I would WANT that person to stand over me and give me step-by-step instructions (my passengers would want the same).

“Micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation” (thank you, Wikipedia). This term has been overly-interpreted and overly-applied to the extent that most recruiting and sourcing managers hide behind it (without even realizing their doing it). The reasons for not recognizing this avoidance behavior has to do with the fact that not enough noise is made about this in corporate recruiting/sourcing, the practice of coaching is foreign to most, and (sadly) the recruiting/sourcing leader has often never recruited or sourced.

Embracing the notion of implementing a performance coaching environment can be a bit intimidating for the leader and the members of the team. The apprehension for creating and sustaining a culture for coaching can often raise the question, “Am I really good enough?” for the leader and the team members. This question usually occurs at a subconscious level. The good news is that a culture for coaching doesn’t need to invoke this question or anything close to it. Rather, performance coaching can be a great experience for the coach and the player when the coach is committed to end each coaching session with a review of what he/she learned from the player (receiving the coaching). This commitment removes the pressure for the coach to feel as though they need to be the expert on all matters. The player (receiving the coaching) begins to feel enthusiasm and anticipation for each coaching session because they know they will have an opportunity to share their knowledge for the benefit of others while increasing their own knowledge.

Some of the key ingredients for creating a performance coaching environment in a recruiting or talent sourcing environment are as follows:

  • Defining the role of the coach and the player
  • Develop or leverage a methodology for Learning Styles
  • Reach agreements on when/how coaching will occur
  • Align coaching sessions to the player’s Individual Development Plan
  • Discuss the coaching de-railers and agree upon how to avoid them
  • Rely heavily on the process of journaling

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