Six Steps to Better Coaching

Most managers instinctively know that coaching their direct reports is a good thing to do, however, it’s all too easy not to do it.

So why bother?  And why bother now in particular?

The big picture is that managers act as the gatekeepers to the potential in the organisation.  If managers are not releasing that potential, helping people thrive and bring their best selves to their work then what exactly are they doing?

Research points time and time again to the fact that employees who receive coaching are more likely to be engaged, feel more valued, apply more discretionary effort and are more likely to stick with the organisation.  In fact organisations where coaching is a part of the culture have been shown by Bersin and Associates to have a revenue 21% higher than their competition.

At a time when most employees are at home, many feeling isolated and disconnected we should be embracing anything that can help them feel more involved, more cared for and continuing to develop.

The good news is that it doesn’t take hours of focussed training and experience to get up to speed with the most effective elements of coaching.

Here are our top tips on how to coach as a manager and reap the benefits as quickly as possible:

  1. Intent matters more than expertise, your mindset matters. Coaching needs to come from a position of trust, respect, positive intent, a lack of pre-judgement and a true belief that the individual has the potential to grow. Be open, tell them what you’re trying to do, take them on the journey with you.
  2. The most powerful tools that the coach possesses are questioning and listening. Coachees respond best when the coach is fully present and curious about their world.  Great coaching questions challenge the coachee to think deeply, building their self-awareness and their ability to generate solutions. Allow silence, it gives space for deep thought and the chance to put into words vague ideas or feelings.
  3. Focus on their desired outcome rather than their presenting problem. Help the coachee vividly bring to life what success looks like, what they hope to achieve and why it matters rather than wallowing in all the things that are wrong.
  4. We learn through doing – be creative about how you can empower and enable individuals to try things out, to experiment, to make mistakes and to learn within a safe environment.
  5. Great coaches build their coachees’ confidence and self-belief. Grab every opportunity to demonstrate progress and highlight strengths that can be used to address challenges.
  6. Avoid offering advice or direction as much as possible, let go of the need to demonstrate your wisdom and experience. Our goal should be to guide them to come up with their own solutions and actions. A useful acronym is WAIT, “Why Am I Telling?”

Coaching should form a part of every conversation with team members.  It takes seconds to ask a powerful, thought-provoking question, the deep thinking that follows and the sense of being supportively challenged will push them out of their comfort zones and reap rewards.

In every conversation with a direct report ask yourself, “what can I do or say now to help this person grow and develop?”



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