Are you a coachable team player?
In football, as the clock ticks down to two minutes the referee blows the whistle and the quarterback trots to the sideline to confer with his coach, while the defensive team captain does the same. In a few minutes the game resumes, with both sides having received important input from their coaches at a critical moment of the game. The same coaching can happen in a veterinary practice. And learning to be coachable offers many benefits: better patient care, more career satisfaction, a greater potential for raises and advancement and a more pleasant workplace.
Now imagine what would happen if the quarterback and defensive captain ran to the sideline to talk with their coaches and argued instead of listening. This an example of an uncoachable player. As powerful and effective as coaching can be, it won’t make any real difference in the performance of a team that isn’t open to being coached. Let’s explore coaching and how committed team players can become coachable. (Then send your manager here to read about how to be a great coach.)
What is coaching?
Coaching is a special relationship created and maintained through a unique form of communication. A coach and the team speak and listen to each other in a way that they are unlikely to speak and listen to anyone else. Their relationship exists in the conversations they have with each other.
An important part of this coach/player relationship is the mutually shared commitment. In sports, that commitment is to win as many games as possible. In a veterinary practice, it might be to help the practice continue to grow financially while providing the highest quality care available. It’s the coach’s job to positively impact the performance of the player. And it’s the player’s job to listen for the advice the coach provides and to then take the coaching. Remember that you’re on the same team, committed to producing the same result: high-quality care.
How to be coachable
Start by recognizing that, as human beings, we’re not automatically open to coaching. Actually, it’s worse than that. We aren’t open to coaching and we walk around thinking that we are until someone says something that we don’t agree with or that doesn’t match our personal beliefs. Then our open minds shut faster and with more force than a bear trap.
It’s human nature to hear contributions from others as criticism. How much of a difference a coach can have on a player’s performance depends on whether the player is willing to listen. Being coachable occurs in your listening.
Here are two powerful ways to listen that can help you develop into a coachable player:
1. The try-it-on-and- see way of listening. Rather than being concerned about whether you agree or disagree with what the other person is saying, be willing to consider what they’re saying. Try it on, looking from their point of view, to see what opens up for you.
2. Listen for the contribution in what the other person says. It’s amazing the difference someone can make in your life when you start listening for good advice.
Of course, part of your training is to stay open to coaching. At first, you may hear your employer’s comments as criticism. Adjust in those moments to a try-it-on-and-see way of listening. As you develop yourself as a coachable player, you start listening to many others in this way. Suddenly, everyone has something to contribute to you.
Listening will also help you become a powerful team player; someone who’s both open to being coached and who applies it to his or her job performance. Don’t be surprised if other people start asking you for coaching. Coachable players often become some of the best coaches.