Did you know that to be truly effective as a manager apart from the skills of managing and leading you also need to master one another valuable skill? This skill is Coaching. By being a Coach you can support your subordinates in their learning, and enable them to develop the skills, knowledge and attitude necessary to successfully deliver to their job responsibilities and goals. Coaching does not mean simply correcting today's problem. It means preventing the problem from resurfacing. As a manager, you can be an effective coach to your subordinates, by following a few simple tips.
Tips for Coaching
- Coach the individual, not the group: Coaching relationship is built one-on-one and not in a group. Treat every team member as an individual and take time to learn their unique needs and unique set of strengths. Be in tune with his/her personal aspirations and interests. Capitaliz on his/her strengths. Use tailor made coaching approaches. For example determine your coaching method based on an individual’s learning style or preference for informal/formal learning methods.
- Practice active listening: Good coaches listen completely. They resist the temptation to give instant advice or answers, even if they know them. They give people time to get to a point fully, and only then attempt to work out a solution. They know how to draw more out of people by offering encouragement while listening to them. They say things like “That’s interesting. Can you tell me more about that?”
- Ask questions to facilitate learning: Ask questions, not to gather facts but to elicit solutions, feelings, ideas and new thoughts and to help people open up. Asking your subordinates questions challenge them to think harder and more broadly about issues, thereby enlarging their perspective and improving their reasoning skills. Questions can generate better solutions. Good questions are neutral rather than judgmental or critical. They help people see new angles on issues and explore new options for dealing with them. This means you should avoid closed questions, that contain the answer or which end discussions prematurely. Some examples of good questions are… What is causing you concern? How would you like to approach the problem? Who else should we include? Is there another way to look at this?
- Provide constructive feedback: Provide clear, constructive and timely feedback in a manner that encourages learning. Catch people doing things right and praise them. Do not shy away from honest feedback about things that need strengthening, but give critical feedback in a non-threatening manner.
- Facilitate developmental plans: Support your team members in identifying development gaps and making development plans. Regularly monitor and review developmental plans. Engage in development and career planning dialogues with team members. Make them aware about the different areas where they can contribute to the organization and at the same time meet their career aspirations.
- Guide by sharing personal insights, learning, and experiences: Take every available opportunity to transfer your knowledge to your team members. Look for teaching moments. It could be a meeting or an email. Narrate your personal experiences or a success story. Model the behaviours you wish to instil in others.
- Stretch team members without causing them to fail: Push them to do better. At the same time don’t break them by pushing too hard. Remove barriers to learning and find creative ways to encourage skill development. Create opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge. For instance on the job learning, job rotation, challenging assignments etc can be excellent opportunities for individuals to reach their potential. Determine clear performance objectives and milestones based on mutual agreement. Leverage strengths of individuals rather than worrying about their weaknesses to accomplish the set objectives.
- Be available when the employee needs advice, information, decisions, or support in problem solving: Having taken on the role of a coach you should make a conscious effort to make time for coaching.
- Use coaching when appropriate: Using coaching when deadlines are tight or a crisis has arisen may not be appropriate. Precious time may be lost. However, if you do not use a coaching approach when a team member has made a mistake, the learning opportunity will be missed and the mistake may be repeated.
- Don’t take the coach’s hat off: Lastly remember coaching should not be an event in your schedule. It should be a continuous process.