In our view, one of the most important things a manager can do now is coach. It’s a style that lends itself to building empowerment and ownership – helping people clarify personal goals, boost decision making and tackle relationship challenges.
Of course, there are many other styles available – directing, mentoring and hands-off – but the coaching style seems particularly relevant for inclusion in our lives right now. This is because it encourages adaptability and autonomy; traits suitable for a rapidly changing workplace beset with uncertainty.
According to Bersin by Deloitte, ‘Organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently, improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.’
Here are four things you can do to get people coaching now
1. Create the expectation that you want people to start using coaching.
Introduce coaching training as a fundamental part of your management training. Training not only provides skills but gets managers to think about how they can introduce it to their management routines. We often hear managers say they feel it is unnatural when they start to implement coaching techniques. So help them transition by sharing good examples from across the organisation. Identify any leaders who are already using coaching skills to develop their teams. This will help you sell the benefits to the teams now and in the future.
2. Demystify the concept and practice of coaching.
Coaching is something that all managers can introduce. The method works best when used in the moment rather than a week or two down the line. The best way to demystify the concept is to learn more about it. A good starting point is Coaching as a manager training as this develops questioning and listening skills and how they are applied. Leaders start by asking: “So what’s been done about this already?“ (when an issue is presented to them), listen to the response and follow with “What else do you think we could do?”.
3. Embody trust in order to understand your team’s coaching needs
Encourage your managers to think about their own start point and where they are on a scale of already using coaching skills. The further away they are, the higher the likelihood of them needing coaching themselves to look at how they introduce it within their working lives. The important point here for learning and development professionals is to encourage individuals to be realistic about their start point. Line reports may feel unnerved and exposed to open up to you. Ensure you foster feelings of trust and sensitivity when speaking to individuals.
4. Introduce the concept of situational deployment
One of the challenges facing leaders, especially newer ones, is knowing when to provide answers versus encouraging people to find solutions themselves. Encourage managers to think of the situations they can use different coaching skills – situational deployment. Provide guidance on when it is appropriate to use different styles. For example, a more directive approach is required when an employee is junior or less experienced or involved in a life-threatening, financial or reputational risk situation.
Building a coaching culture
A coaching culture involves a strategic and systematic deployment of coaching that fits in line with a company’s overall talent management strategy. It results in equipping everyone internally – from senior leaders to new recruits – to learn coaching techniques (and when to use them appropriately). It empowers people to learn more about themselves and to think through their own solutions.
Identify good practice in your organisation. Identify gaps between where you are and where you would like your organisation to be. The reality is your organisation will be somewhere on a scale.
If you’re at an early stage, then your priority may be to ensure your managers and leaders are benefiting from coaching. For this part, you will most likely need external coaches to help at the beginning. Alternatively, you might decide to pilot coaching workshops and coaching tools to a broader audience.
Adapting a manager as coach mindset has the opportunity to strengthen your organisation’s learning and development at a time when it’s most needed.
If you’d like to hear more about the tools and techniques – we can train at all levels within your business – please get in touch.