Contact one of our experts

Why every manager needs to coach [Blog]

A Manager CoachIf you are looking to develop a high-performing team that is engaged and motivated, coaching will be critical to your success and must become a regular practice in your interactions with your team members.

Working with managers, I often hear statements such as: ‘I just don’t have the time’ or ‘coaching takes too long’ or ‘I wish my team would rely on me less and solve some of their own problems’. However, getting the most out of your employees means spending the time. The right time that is.

You see, the more you engage in coaching conversations, the more your team members will become skilled at finding their own solutions thereby giving you back some of that precious time.

What is coaching?

Some managers confuse coaching with mentoring and other forms of support, so let’s go back to basics for a moment and understand what coaching actually means.

Ed Batista, Instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, sums it up pretty well when he says:

Coaching is about connecting with people, inspiring them to do their best, and helping them to grow. It’s also about challenging people to come up with the answers they require on their own.

A good coach enables individuals to find the solution and own it!

Coaching conversations

Ask, Don’t Tell

So how do you incorporate coaching conversations in your interactions with your employee?

Let’s take a look at Monique Valcour’s ‘ask, don’t tell’ approach. Monique explains that as a manager, you have a high level of expertise that you’re used to sharing, often in a directive manner. She says that this is fine when you’re clarifying action steps for a project you’re leading or when people come to you asking for direction. But in a coaching conversation, it’s essential to restrain your impulse to provide the answers.

Instead, you should ask open-ended questions that help your team members reflect on the situation, articulate their goals and challenges and helps them find their own answers.

Some examples include:

“What do you think happened there?”
“Did you see that playing out differently?”
“What would you like to focus on today?”
“Is there anything else that you need to consider before starting?”
“How do you think you could improve that relationship?”

Be careful not to come off as judgemental – approach the questions with genuine curiosity and empathy.

GROW Model

Secondly, find a coaching conversation model that resonates with you and practice it. There are many models out there, and one of my favourites is the GROW model. It is easy to use and is practical – even if you’ve never coached before. The GROW model simplifies the process for helping you guide your employee to come up with a solution and learn from it along the way.

The GROW model incorporates four steps to follow when you are coaching your team member:

  • Goal Setting – this is where you explore the specific situation that has arisen with the individual and help them set a goal to work towards
  • Reality – at this step you explore with the individual their reality, issues, and challenges
  • Options – once you have coached the person through the first two steps it is time to look at options and solutions. This is where the individual comes up with all the possible solutions without considering whether they are good or bad solutions, simply anything that comes to mind. This is one of the most challenging steps for the coach, as it is tempting to offer solutions. Be careful, it’s a trap. Once you start offering the solutions, the individual no longer owns them and is less likely to commit to the solution.
  • Way forward – This step is where the individual selects the solution they find the most suitable and discusses how they will put it in place.

The video below is a wonderful demonstration of how to apply the GROW model. I would recommend viewing it several times and practicing as much as possible.

Weintraub and Hunt summarised it well when they said a manager’s responsibility to help people perform to their potential and help get them where they need to be. So ask yourself, how can you bring out the best in your people and create a high performing team.

Investing the time in coaching now, will produce the results for you in the future and you won’t have to wait long to see a difference.

About the author

TMS Consulting