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John Rice

Bowland Solutions

Sales & Marketing Director

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Coaching for Line Managers (Part 2) or 5 beliefs for Line Managers to help improve coaching conversations


There was an unexpectedly good response to our last post about Coaching for Line Managers, which suggests to us just how important a topic this is for organisations.

Consequently, we wanted to follow this up with some thoughts about what beliefs can help a Line Manager improve their coaching conversations with their team members.

The power of beliefs

Firstly, we should consider just how powerful the beliefs we hold are; whether they are 'right', 'partially right' or 'wrong', they drive how we think, how we behave, and consequently the results we enjoy or endure.

Much is said about 'Confirmation Bias' which is the tendency of people to favour information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses; sometimes we even seek it out, purposefully looking for supporting 'evidence' to ensure our beliefs stand up to our own scrutiny and disregarding other perspectives which may challenge these beliefs.

An advertisement for 'The Guardian' newspaper from nearly 30 years ago, was to my mind, a powerful example of how beliefs dictated thoughts; the image of a 'Skinhead' running towards a city commuter conjured up thoughts which suggested the man was about to get mugged; but he isn't - my beliefs or assumptions didn't allow me to consider alternative outcomes.

Limiting beliefs in coaching

Now take this into the realms of coaching; if I am a Line Manager who holds certain beliefs about my team members, it will affect the outcome of the conversation. If for example, I believe that 'Tom' is work-shy, has a poor attitude to work and doesn't give of his best; how might these beliefs manifest themselves in the coaching conversation?

One might imagine thoughts such as 'Oh, here we go again, another excuse' or 'I don't think he is up to the job here' or 'He is never going to understand this, I will just tell him how to do it, it will be easier', popping into my head.

Suddenly, the opportunity to have a productive coaching conversation is diminished; I am failing to coach properly and I am robbing the other person of the opportunity to develop and improve.

Liberating beliefs in coaching

What then if we could 'try on' some new beliefs; liberating beliefs which held open the possibility of change, improvement and development?

Our philosophy when training Line Managers is to focus as much on what mindset will be most productive, as to what is a useful model or technique to follow; holding a positive set of beliefs will spark off far bigger improvements than any polished process.

5 liberating beliefs for Line Managers

We offer these five liberating beliefs as a starting point for any Line Manager who wishes to improve the quality of their coaching conversations:

1. People want to do a good job

Yes, they may be some people who are 'swinging the lead'; but they are in a very, very large minority - People do want to do well in their roles, they do wish to contribute and make a difference.

Hold them in positive regard and help them make that difference.

2. Everyone has their own frame of reference

We all operate with our own world view, with ourselves very often at the centre; it's subjective, it's different to everyone else, but it's valid.

Appreciate their view of the world, validate it and seek to understand it.

3. People have choice and make decisions based on the options they see

This follows from the points above; given their valid world view, experience and desire to do a good job, people are taking decisions which they believe are right for them and for the organisation.

Understand what options they see, how they make their decisions and help them broaden the options they see next time.

4. People are resourceful, are capable of change and have the their own solutions

This is absolutely fundamental; we have to believe in the capacity of an individual to find their own way, that they have experience and knowledge which can be drawn upon and applied to whatever new situation they find themselves in.

Step back, don't rush to solution, simply ask the questions they might not yet have asked of themselves.

5. Performance = Potential - Interference (and Potential is always 100%!)

As offered by one of the key influencers within this field, Timothy Gallwey, this formula is a glue for the other beliefs; individuals have the potential to perform to the best of their ability, you as a Line Manager just have to minimise interference.

Identify the sources of interference, help them remove the barriers, be they internal or external.

These liberating beliefs will help underpin successful coaching conversations for Line Managers; this isn't to say that they will be exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, a shift towards incorporating these beliefs and being mindful in the moment when having coaching conversations that they are being observed, will yield enormous dividends for both parties.

If you would like to comment on this or contribute your own thoughts during our free live webinar on 'Coaching for Line Managers' at the end of this month, then we would welcome your insight.


Author Profile Picture
John Rice

Sales & Marketing Director

Read more from John Rice

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