The Walking Culture – Part 3: Coach

My Grandpa McCracken passed away last week. He was 94 years old, living in a memory care unit about a half-mile from our house.   I often told people, “He lives in the moment.” We always walked together when I would visit him with my young children. Grandpa would slowly take steps with the aid of his walker and my kids would bounce around as we walked throughout the courtyard and the living area. As I would watch grandpa steadily move one step at a time, it brought back memories of my children learning to walk. In both situations, I was the walking coach. To both my children and my grandpa, I found myself saying words like…

  • “Steady now.”
  • “Are you ok?”
  • “Let’s move this way.”
  • “Let me hold your arm.”
  • “Which way would you like to go?”
  • “One more step and we’ll be there.”


The third part of this blog series on “The Walking Culture” is the opportunity to coach. Once you’ve built relationship (part 1) and learned about the person (part 2), you have the chance to provide coaching.


To keep coaching simple, it is about helping someone take the next step. Sometimes that step is the first step. Sometimes that step is the 2,000th step. But, it’s about the next step. Coaching someone that is taking the first step is much different than the 2,000th step, but there are two primary approaches we can take.



The first is guidance. Guidance is providing clear direction, knowledge transfer, and immediate feedback. Sometimes we need to use more guidance (first steps) and sometimes we need to use less guidance (2,000th step).



The second approach is encouragement. Encouragement is listening, praising, and asking questions. The encouragement that one should provide is based on the emotional state of the person you are helping. If the emotional state is “low”, the person will need more encouragement. If the emotional state is “high”, the person will need less encouragement.


The delicate part of coaching is combining the right amount the guidance with the right amount of encouragement. Each person will require different mixtures of the two. As you coach on your walks, look for clues that will tell you the emotional state of the person and how they are progressing. In addition, ask questions like, “How’s your progress coming along?” or “How’s your motivation right now?”


Finally, coaching is not limited to the manager coaching the associate relationship. Peer to peer coaching is very effective. In addition, you might need to coach your manager, as risky as that may sound. However, get someone in a walking environment and you might be surprised at what you are able to communicate.


The last installment in the “Walking Culture” series will focus on creativity.