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Espresso coaching

Coaching has nothing to do with higher mathematics. People who manage to educate children well, already have lots of talent. Have you ever observed a mother while she is firmly teaching her toddler a lesson?

I admit this is a daily situation. Years ago, I was quietly reading some reports at home. Suddenly, hell broke loose: noise, shouts, cries... a dispute I didn’t entirely pick up. I went to the kitchen and saw my wife had stopped cooking. She took apart my eldest son, who was five years old at the time, and explained him why she was so mad. Patience is a virtue: eventually, the problem was solved.

Easy? Not always, but it is very efficient however. Meanwhile, my first grandson is on the way, but I will never forget this anecdote. The toddler is being confronted with his own behavior and realizes that this behavior is unacceptable. In other words: he is being coached. Good education is coaching avant la lettre!

Do you have this same patience as far as your employees concerned? Although your employees aren’t children anymore, they deserve your individed attention more than once a year!

‘But last year, we all participated to a three-day workshop. During these three days, we kept on talking about our strategy, our values and the desirable behaviour (values & behaviours). And where did it lead us to? To nothing! Every day, I’m still being confronted with tunnel thinking, macho behavior, postponement behaviour..., ‘ is an excuse I often hear.

In each company, employees are supposed to stick to the company values. The desirable behavior is the key to success. Everyone agrees about that. Then why do many executives take the time only once a year to give their employees feedback? Moreover, these executives are often badly prepared and go through everything very quickly. It seems like a mandatory formality! It is strange to see how theory and practice are often so different.

Coffee machine
Wouldn’t it be better to regularly size up the situation? Opt for a pragmatic approach: just talk to your people whenever you have the opportunity. You don’t even have to plan this. Make enough time for it, but keep it simple. Often, an informal chat at the coffee machine can do miracles; this goes for pats on the back as well as for correcting deviant behaviour. Talking can help.

Just take a look at the example of the disobedient toddler:
  • He immediately gets a hard rap over the knuckles.
  • The ‘coach’ explains why the toddler has been misbehaving.
  • She persuades him that he was wrong and now he understands that he has to change his behaviour.
  • The next day, he gets a big hug because his behavior is exemplary. The toddler has picked up the right behavior! No panic; this doesn’t mean that the coffee corner has to become a place to hug …

Why are we complicating things for ourselves? Why are we waiting until the last moment? Quickly collecting evaluations and dealing with performance interviews at a record pace as if they were a necessary evil, is definitely not the right way.

There are 365 days in a year! 365 days offering lots of opportunities to give each other feedback. Make some suggestions for improvement whenever necessary. Why should you wait?

Just like educators, coaches keep both feet on the ground. Abstract models are instructive, but just by taking a good look around, you will already learn a lot. Free and for nothing. Most of us are familiar with education. Why wouldn’t we follow the same line in our professional life?

Are you being surrounded by ‘natural coaches’? Or are you a ‘natural coach’ yourself? How do you give feedback?

Have a nice weekend!


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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