Learning About Coaching While Learning to be a Dad

Learning about coaching while learning to be a Dad
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Right as the hard lockdown started here in South Africa, I became the father of a beautiful baby boy. Due to the intense restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the access to our local hospital and medical personnel, the need for hospital beds for COVID patients and the potential backlog of mothers-to-be waiting for that big moment, it was decided to bring him into the world 9 days before his actual due date.

While this may or may not have been the main cause, he struggled in the first few months with his digestion. His screaming and crying told us he was traumatized by the idea of drinking his milk. After many sleepless nights and feeling almost hopeless, we finally found a formula that agreed with him. Moving him onto solids sooner has been a success as has doing all his daytime feeds in his high chair. 

The high chair has been the biggest game-changer. It has instilled a sense of routine and discipline. When he is placed in his “big boy chair” he knows to wait patiently for his meal. Getting this right early will pave the way for future good behavior through positive reinforcement of lessons learned.

As a new father I know I have a lot to learn on how to provide guidance and help my son develop critical life skills and coping skills without criticizing, judging, or lecturing him. He will need coaching through new experiences, through the games of school and work and relationships, through life’s challenges and troubles. 

Sharpen Management (and Parental) Skills

The same applies to individuals in a business. Just like a child’s life, employees face many decision points in their careers, challenging their judgment, self-control, and problem-solving abilities. 

It’s easy for either to fall short in any of these skill areas. A proven approach is to focus on coaching and coping skills to better prepare them for the many challenges ahead.

Rather than wait for problems to occur, a manager (or parent) can adopt a more proactive and preventive approach to helping employees thrive (children to mature). The coach in each instance can discuss with the ‘coachee’ the skills that are necessary to successfully cope with problem situations. 

Many companies hire a Talent Development specialist as an internal coach to focus efforts on making managers better leaders. This can be seen as part of a larger effort to rebuild training and development for supervisors and enhance their role in the organization. 

Coaching Your Employees/Children Makes You a Better Leader/Parent

Coaching places a parent in a new role when their child fails to cope with a difficult situation. 

Much like a Talent Developer or company coach keeps an eye on each employee’s performance to signal the need for a training session or team-building exercise, a parent holds a similar perspective. From this vantage point, the employee’s (or child’s) efforts to cope with the acceptable performance standards (or expected demands of life) signal where “coaching” is needed.

For parents, a coaching role emphasizes the importance of a safe and nonjudgmental dialogue between parent and child. In order for coaching to proceed, the child must feel accepted and understood, not criticized, and lectured. 

But getting team leaders in companies steeped in tradition-rich cultures to move from judging employees to coaching them in their day-to-day work can be a challenge.

One way that Talent Development professionals do this is by investing in training on topics such as:

  • How to establish employees’ priorities and goals
  • How to provide feedback about contributions
  • How to align employees’ career aspirations with business needs and learning and development plans. 

An inevitable part of any leader’s role is to give constructive feedback to a teammate when something isn’t going the way it should be. These can go poorly if done without mindfulness; if done well, they can be a huge source of growth and gratitude.

Building employees’ capabilities and relationships with supervisors helps to increase engagement and therefore help the company innovate and move faster.

As a parent, my objective is to develop and refine my child’s coping skills. A good parent and a good coach keep skills such as cooperation, judgment, perspective-taking, resilience, tolerance, perseverance, and many more in mind when talking with their child or employee about a particular situation. 

Inevitably both children and individuals in business will typically succeed in some areas while falling short in others. I know I have to figure out how to be flexible. How to adjust. How to be what the scenario, what my kid on that day, in that moment, requires. 

That’s what a great coach does. That’s what being a dad is.

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