105
IMPROVING YOUR DESCRIPTIVE SKILLS
using your arms to swing and not getting enough power behind the
bat with your wrists.’’
Telling someone they were ‘rude’ and that they need to be
‘more polite’ is about as useful as telling a batter he missed the ball
and that he should hit it from now on. Coaching must include detail
in order to be useful. Early in this chapter I asked you to write down
two examples of behaviors you observed recently, one that you liked
and one that needs improvement or correction. Are your examples
specific enough to understand or are they global and nonspecific
labels, leaving room for your associates to misunderstand what you
meant to say?
DESCRIBING PERFORMANCE IN
NEED OF IMPROVEMENT
When you provide corrective feedback, you must describe what as-
pect of performance was either below standards or could be im-
proved. You must also provide a clear description of what the person
needs to do to improve. ‘‘Don’t be that way’’ is not good enough.
Getting to specifics is not as simple as it might seem. In manage-
ment training events, I have to do a great deal of coaching to get
participants to be as specific and concrete in their language as they
need to be. This takes practice. You’ll find exercises in the Skill De-
velopment section at the end of this chapter. Please do them. The
time you invest will be more than worth it when you start applying
the coaching model presented in Chapter 7.
Look at the following list of examples. Each label is followed by
an example of a more descriptive example a coach might want to
address. But each label could be followed up by any number of dif-
ferent but equally specific examples. As you look at each example,
pause for a moment and think about your own associates. If you
were to coach someone about these areas of performance, what spe-
106
COACHING FUNDAMENTALS
cific examples might you use to describe the performance of some-
one who reports to you?
Rude:
‘You interrupted a coworker as she was making a suggestion
and told her that she didn’t know what she was talking
about. You used a loud, angry tone of voice and your facial
expression conveyed the impression that you thought she
was stupid and clueless.’’
Unreliable:
‘Over the past three weeks I have given you six different
assignments to complete by a specific time. You missed the
deadline on three of them and you failed to provide all the
information I requested on two of the projects, forcing me
to send you back with more instructions to complete the task
fully.’
Negative Attitude:
‘In the staff meeting this morning I noticed that you reacted
to the new documentation requirements by sighing and roll-
ing your eyes. Then you looked at the person next to you
with an expression on your face that seemed to be saying,
‘Can you believe what management came up with this time?’
On the way out of the meeting, I overheard you complaining
to your coworkers that this was ‘another example of manage-
ment creating needless paperwork.’
Not a Team Player:
‘On several occasions recently I have called for volunteers
to work on different projects. You never once raised your
hand to take on the extra work that has to get done. In addi-
tion, several people have told me that whenever they ask you
for extra help, you sigh and look irritated. You help out but

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