Coaching for Mastery

I do – You observe

We do

You do – I observe

You do

Scenario: One of your team members attends a training class at corporate. They return to your office and you put them to work hoping that what they just learned will turn into effective results. Are you seeing these results? No? Is training to blame? Do you want to blame your team member for not applying what they learned? What’s wrong if after training your team member does not produce the results you expected?

Go look into the mirror. I’m not suggesting you, the manager, are to blame. But I am suggesting that you play a critical role in the development of your staff – perhaps more than you know. But this is not about blaming you or anyone. Regardless whether you’ve had good role models in your past, you can begin today to effectively and specifically develop your staff.

Pick a skill/process/technology that you wish a particular staff member knew more about and could truly use it to achieve more and improve results. Got one in mind? Ok, walk with me through the following simple steps for coaching mastery. It will be important that you tell your staff member what process you are going to walk through with them. Give them the direction you are heading so they understand what you are doing and what you expect out of them.


Even if your team member just finished a corporate training session, they need context to put what they just learned into practice. YOU can provide this context every day.

Let’s say your team member, John (we’ll call him), just returned from an intro to lending class. Rather than put him behind a desk and say, “now get busy and do loans”, try this instead. When you have a customer in your office to do a loan, go get John and have him observe you in action. Make sure John is taking notes while he is observing you. Introduce him to the customer and inform them that John is there to observe the process. The member will be ok with this.

Now just do your thing. John will hear your interactive questions. He will see how you handle objections and potential obstacles. He will see how you structure a loan to maximize the benefit for the member to meet and exceed their needs. He will hear common questions that a customer might ask. Observing you in action will put context to John’s recent training. This is incredibly valuable! Your experience, your skill, your competence added to his training will boost John’s future effectiveness.

Don’t just do this once. Do it as often as you can. Have John observe other loan reps. Make sure you communicate to the rest of your staff that what John is doing is work and very important. John just isn’t killing time. He is extending his learning.

Make sure you debrief after each observation. Ask John what questions he has and answer them. Ask John questions about the process to make sure he understands what to do. Ask John if he would do anything differently than what you did. Engage John in a good conversation so you begin to understand what he is retaining and understanding. Make sure you are documenting these debriefing sessions. Don’t rely on your memory. This is about John’s development and your failed memory won’t help him.

How long should this first step towards mastery take? I don’t know. You’ll know as you debrief John after each observation. You’ll get the sense on how he is understanding the process/skill/technology you are focusing on.


There will come a time when you and John will together do the skill/process. Going back to the lending example, when a customer is in to do a loan, bring John along with you in the office with the member. Explain to the customer that both of you will be working with them today. It’s ok to say that John is in training and this experience will be a big help. Thank the member for helping with this.

Have John kick off the lending conversation with the customer. Have John ask those all important probing questions to get to the core issue and loan need. Have John put the application on the system. As this process moves along, find an appropriate time for you to take over. Maybe it’s after the initial conversation about discovering the loan need. Maybe it’s after the conversation about structuring the right loan. Just make sure that John has a chance to get experience with you observing him.

If John stumbles on something, don’t get dramatic. If needed, you can interject something like “what John meant to say” if he said something that was incorrect. Just smile and let John know you’ll go over that point later.

Again, debriefing after each observation is critical . Ask the same questions as you did in step 1.

How long should this step last? You’ll know when John is ready for step 3. Again, document these debriefing sessions.


Now John is ready to do the whole process – with you observing the entire thing. A customer comes in to do a loan. They may approach you directly. After you greet them and seat them in your office, inform them that John will be helping them today but that you will be present as well. Then go get John.

John comes in and introduces himself to the customer and the loan process begins. John is in the driver’s seat. You are sitting to the side – listening, taking notes, observing, giving encouraging looks if necessary. John should be pretty confident by now. You most likely will not have to “correct” anything.

Again, there will be a debriefing session after each of these observations. Encourage John’s progress. You are the coach. Make sure that he has all the right “moves” in place. You are building his confidence and skills. Take the time to do this. Do not skip this critical step.


It’s solo time for John! Even if a customer comes in and wants to talk with you about a loan, inform them that you will be having them meet with John. If all other platform desks are busy, let John use your office. Get them situated then leave. Go out and spend time with your other staff. Observe them doing their jobs. Interact with the customers. Make the most of this time. John is in the process of growing and developing. You are playing an important role in what you are doing by this step.

Once again, debrief after John’s first solo loan appointment. Encourage him. Answer questions. Clarify what needs clarification. Review his loan documents. Be there for him.

Leadership is Multiplying

One of the great joys of leading others is helping them grow and develop and then turning them loose to become effective and productive members of your team. You are multiplying who you are in others.

Some managers like to be the star and try to do it all and get all the glory. Other managers recognize that their true role is to build an effective team who can meet the needs of the membership no matter what comes up. The individuals succeed. The team succeeds. The company succeeds. The customers succeeds. We all win.


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