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Bola Owoade

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Senior Learning and Development Advisor

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Book Review – Coaching People – Pocket Mentor


Coaching People - Pocket MentorIntroduction

Coaching People, part of the Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor series is a mini-book that goes straight to the point distilling no nonsense information. Aimed at managers, team leaders and supervisors it focuses on equipping them with quick skills to support the development of the people they manage through coaching. The book has 69 pages and contains coaching principles, quick case studies and some really useful tools. For those who may be involved in internal training and want to develop their first-line and middle managers in coaching, this book is a good starting point for developing a bite-sized training session. Even just getting copies of the book for managers will help. While it will not make anybody an expert coach, the information inside the book is enough to get managers practicing and developing some coaching skills. The book can be read in just a couple of minutes, I read it in just over an hour. To get a better feel for the book I have reviewed the various sections in it briefly. The book does not use chapters.

What is Coaching? - This section concentrates on explaining what coaching is and what it isn't. It has a sub-section titled, Coaching with purpose which explains that coaching is appropriate when there is a belief that working together will lead to improved performance. The benefits of coaching and when coaching should take place is also discussed.

How to know when to coach - This part is about knowing when to coach a person. It discusses observation as necessary for getting information about the potential coachee. The observation process is also discussed.

How To develop Coaching Skills - Skills necessary to become effective at coaching are discussed in this chapter. The skills discussed are:

  • Listening actively
  • Asking the right questions
  • Advocating your opinions
  • Giving feedback as coach
  • Receiving feedback as coach
  • Building agreement

There is also an active listening assessment that can help you to check how actively you listen.

How To Manage a Coaching Session - This chapter looks at four aspects of coaching that are really important. Prepare for the coaching session deals with creating a coaching plan for the session. Conducting the coaching session is centered on what should actually happen during a coaching session. Develop an action plan is about helping the person being coached to develop an action plan, while Coach beyond the session looks at support that the coachee will need outside coaching sessions.

How To Customize Your Coaching - This is the last part of the book and it discusses what type of coaching style to use in any given situation. It looks at two main coaching styles which are the Directive Coaching style and the Supportive Coaching style and explains what they are and when to use them.

Although this is a small book there is much to be liked about it. To start with it is easy to understand and the skills taught in the book can be mastered quite quickly. I think the information in the book would be ideal for a training course on performance coaching aimed at first-line managers and team leaders. Also the book has a collection of tools which are quite simple and easy to use for coaching. So if you are looking for a primer on coaching for yourself or anybody else, this might just be the book for you.

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Bola Owoade

Senior Learning and Development Advisor

Read more from Bola Owoade

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