When coaching studio owners, one of the most common topics we discuss is people. Specifically, dance studio faculty and staff. There are so many factors to consider when hiring people, onboarding them, integrating them into your studio culture, and holding them accountable for a job well done.
One of those factors that I think sometimes doesn’t get enough attention is the coaching required—the ongoing advice and guidance studio owners must give each individual team member so they can personally learn and grow, and so the business can achieve its goals. As studio owners, we are responsible for establishing this essential communication loop throughout an employee’s tenure with us.
- Vision-casting … and recasting – As the studio owner, your eye is consistently on the big picture. Your team, on the other hand, is consistently in the trenches of day-to-day details. And so communicating to them about what the big picture looks like—what “winning” on the team looks like—is one way to coach them to success. Through casting the vision, you’re doing more than painting that picture; you’re reminding them of their impact on the business’s higher purpose! My recommendation is to find ways to recast this vision at least once a month.
- Productive meetings – Meetings can be fertile ground for coaching if you approach them in just the right way. Plant the seeds of preparedness, follow-through, and followup by planning meetings that have an objective which involves everyone invited. Consider sending out an agenda beforehand to make the objective clear, and ask for specific contributions. Coach your staff to listen actively, share ideas, and when necessary, debate with grace.
- Encouraging teamwork – As the studio owner, it’s important that you publicly compliment your employees’ strengths and encourage peer leadership. Coach them to think of their fellow team members first when they have a question or need help solving a problem. You are teaching them to depend on each other when needed and form bonds along the way, rather than go it alone or always come to you for answers.
- Personal check-ins – Schedule one or two times during the year to personally check in one-on-one with your employees, not just to evaluate their job performance and give feedback, but to get to know their lives and personal goals. As a coach, you want to feel connected to your team members in a way that gives you insight into what motivates them. This way you are equipped throughout the season to educate them, lift them up, and cheer them on.
- Praise and corrections – Coaching your team to success doesn’t have to be all wellplanned and thought-out; it might happen spur of the moment! Be prepared to praise an employee immediately upon witnessing a desired behavior, like an outstanding phone call or closing of a sale. Those “high-fives” build major confidence. When you hear about something that didn’t go right, be sure to offer coaching to the employee quickly to correct the problem but privately to maintain trust.
- Continuing education opportunities – A leadership book club. Dance-related trainings and certifications. Business seminars. All of these things create opportunities for learning outside of the studio bubble. Coach your employees to take an interest in continuing their education—however big or small the opportunity may be. (It’s worth studying your budget to see how much you can invest in them too.) By nudging your team members to seek out and appreciate their own personal growth, you are showing them how valued they are at your organization.
Your responsibility as a studio owner doesn’t start and end with the basics of hiring and firing; your true leadership comes from your ability to see potential in others and capitalize on it so that everyone wins. Coaching takes time, effort, energy, and communication, but the dividends it pays are often far beyond what you put in!
I encourage you to start putting these six tips to use at your studio. Already working on it? I hope you’ll share in the comments below what your most rewarding coaching moment has been so far, and how you hope to grow your coaching skills from here. I wish you much success on this unique journey of leadership!