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Are your managers coachers or instructors?

Coaching is good for you. According to the Institute of Coaching (who, fair enough, may be biased) managers who adopt a coaching approach bring the following benefits to their teams:

  • A goal-oriented attitude
  • Increased self-reliance
  • Improved job and life satisfaction
  • More effective contributions to the team
  • Greater responsibility and accountability
  • More productive working with others
  • Enhanced communication

However, despite the benefits of coaching, relatively few managers actually do it. They may think they’re doing it, but that’s different…

Managers often think coaching is …

When a team member is faced with a problem, most managers are only too happy to step in and help solve it. But while the manager may view this one-to-one exchange as ‘coaching’, they actually end up just offering solutions or instructions – telling the employee the answer.

This is undoubtedly very time-efficient, the problem being ironed out as quickly as possible. But the person whose problem it was is often left no better equipped to address the same problem the next time it occurs.

Coaching is really …

A two-way mode of communicating, using dialogue and clearly-defined goals to help the other person find and decide on their own solutions. When coaching, a manager does not solve the problem at hand, even if they know the best solution. Instead, they talk through the issues with the person actually responsible, asking the right questions to help think through the situation and consider various options and their merits.

Coaching includes trust, open communication, specific goals, the right questions, good listening, feedback, creative strategising, and a review process whereby the coachee’s progress is monitored and supported further, as needed.

To encourage managers to see themselves as coaches, make it a key responsibility, written into their job description. Then, like any other core management activity, you measure and reward it.

Do you have a coaching culture?

Managers are also more likely to see coaching as part of their role if there’s a culture of coaching in the company. How can you tell if your organisation has a coaching culture?

  • Coaching is taking place (a bit obvious maybe, but it’s easy to overlook).
  • Coaching takes place at a senior level, encouraging the use of coaching from the top down.
  • People not only do their jobs but also actively look for ways to improve them.
  • Employees take personal responsibility for their own learning and development.
  • There is a willingness to have ‘difficult’ conversations (on the grounds that when people are encouraged to participate in problem-solving, they begin to see problems as things they should solve; and not simply report upwards).
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