Many of today’s travel industry independent contractors do not consider themselves leaders or coaches. But all small business owners can take their business and their team to the next level by learning how to become a great coach. 

It’s important to realize that you automatically became a leader and coach as soon as your business added your first sub-agent/employee/assistant/partner. If you’ve never seen yourself in this light before, you may need to bolster your coaching/mentoring skills. The best way to do that is through education. 

The timing for this is perfect because, for the remainder of July, The Travel Institute is offering our 10th Annual Promote Your Professionalism campaign with a limited number of 50% scholarships for all of our certification programs, including our two leadership programs—Certified Travel Counselor (CTC®) and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE®). Apply for a scholarship today

Your agency depends on targeting the most appropriate clients, so it’s important that you and your team receive the proper education. For practical tips and suggestions for proactively and effectively finding the clients you want, register for The Clients You Want…They Don’t Hire Amateurs!, presented July 24 at 3:00 pm (EST) by Kim Specht, CTIE, Manager for Travel Career Advancement at The Travel Institute.

This week, we challenge you to look at yourself not just as a frontline travel consultant but also as a team leader. To understand how to help your team members to become better today at their jobs than they were yesterday, you first must know there is no one-size-fits-all method to coaching people. You must adjust your coaching style to fit each team member and his or her stage of growth.

Four Growth Stages of Team Members

Rookies—We all had to start somewhere. Think about the last time a person started working for you or you started working for someone. Rookies are those people who join your company without having all the necessary skill sets or knowledge to do the job…yet. They are new to your organization and even may be new to the travel industry. They need hands-on attention and direction.

To coach rookies, you must explain and be prepared to explain again. You must provide information on what to do, how to do it, and what tools are available to do the job. Be patient and answer all of the Rookies’ questions—multiple times—until they are able to perform tasks satisfactorily. That also is the time to recognize their efforts. Look for opportunities to give praise because Rookies need to feel supported and appreciated. Make sure they know whom to call with questions. And never give Rookies too much information too quickly. Monitor their pace and don’t overwhelm them. 

Contributors—These people are starting to gain some confidence and are doing productive work. You want people at this stage to continue to develop skills; thus, you must reinforce the things they’re learning to do. Give Contributors plenty of direction and explain why they’re doing what they’re doing. Give them more responsibilities to further enhance their skills. Challenge them to move forward.

Give high praise to keep Contributors motivated and progressing. Let them feel some empowerment and a sense of independence. However, be careful not to abandon Contributors because they may get lost and feel like Rookies again. With the appropriate amount of praise and direction, Contributors will begin to see where they fit in the organization.

Key Players—When Contributors start to understand their jobs and become successful to the point they don’t need you to tell them what to do, they become Key Players. They are comfortably doing their job, but they still need encouragement to build confidence in what they’re doing. Although you will do less teaching, you still must keep praising, encouraging, and empowering them. This reinforces good work and motivates them to keep reaching higher.

You can start to delegate work to Key Players. You should challenge them to move their skills forward and help them stretch their abilities, so they continue to grow and improve. Be careful not to have too much contact. On the other hand, you should not abandon or ignore your Key Players either. And resist the temptation to overload them with work, especially the work you don’t like to do. They should feel appreciated, not taken for granted. 

Captains—These people work independently and are masters at their jobs. They know what they can do and are high performers. Receiving excessive praise and interaction is not essential to their jobs. You should let Captains know they have your support, but you should leave them alone to do their jobs. Delegate work to them, but don’t pile your workload onto them. Continue to be a resource for your Captains. Don’t abandon or ignore them. In fact, you should seek their input and opinions. They often are peer leaders and, thus, can be very helpful in cementing the entire team. Keep them empowered. 

One of our certified graduates said it best:

I absolutely loved the CTIE program! It made me rethink my leadership role and helped me understand the different types of personalities each team member possesses and how I can help them grow in their specialty!Niki Rakowitz, CTIE, Care Travel.

Remember that all team members are important to you—no matter what stage of growth they’re in. Their success translates to your company’s success. 

We have merely scratched the surface on mastering managerial techniques. To learn more about developing your leadership style, coaching your team members and acquiring other necessary skills, apply TODAY for a certification scholarship for the CTC or CTIE program. 

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