Coaching isn’t easy. In fact, it’s unnatural and can sometimes feel like the opposite of what we should be doing as managers!
As managers, we feel we should be providing direction yet when coaching, we can feel as though we’re doing something far from that and not living up to our role as a manager.
So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay if it feels wrong! But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from it.
Taking a direct approach is appealing, especially when we need something done quickly. And a direct, ‘tell’ kind of approach feels so much more natural. Firstly, it’s probably the kind of management/leadership you have received yourself, secondly, it’s quicker and finally, you feel you are demonstrating good direction. But whilst you can make the time to do this when you’re managing one or two people, it becomes unmanageable when your team grows past that. In the long term, coaching creates employees who are less likely to come back to you and ask (thus reducing the line of people at your desk waiting to ask you things!)
What’s the end goal?
Coaching is all about getting people to take responsibility and commit to a decision that they have thought through. It’s about supporting individuals to make good decisions before they come to you (their manager). Coaching encourages employees to come to you with solutions, having already asked themselves the questions you are likely to be thinking. Achieving this takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment of your time. Investing twenty minutes every so often could save you many hours of continually having to answer your employees’ questions in the future. Many of those questions you have answered before!
The impact of coaching doesn’t hit overnight and therefore it can be difficult to know when we’re doing a good job of it and making progress. One of our course delegates shared a story with us just last week that summed up really nicely how he knew his coaching conversations with his team were having a positive impact… he said: “I knew it was working when one of my team came to ask me a question only to stop in their tracks and say ‘it’s alright, I know what to do’”. What a great story! Whilst we aim to measure everything with data nowadays, these qualitative, snippets of behaviour and interaction are so significant when it comes to people development.
I wanted to reassure you more than anything in this post, that coaching is difficult, often unnatural and easy to dismiss. And it’s okay if you feel like that about it! This doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing it though, it just means you may have to set aside your ‘preferred approach’ from time to time and empower your inner coach to step in! The helpful GROW model provides some good starting points for questioning:
Goals – questions focused around the person’s goal/aim in regards to the subject/project you’re discussing
Realistic – questions around whether the goal is realistically able to be achieved within the timeframe, with the resources available and with the current involvement of stakeholders etc.
Options – questions that get the employee talking about all the options that they have. What obstacles might stand in their way? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the options?
Will – questions around getting the employee to establish the action they will take moving forward and commit to it.
I hope this has given you some reassurance, insight and a possible tool to consult/revisit. If you have any questions about any of the above, I’d be very open to having a chat with you, so please do get in touch.