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Coaching tips for managers


ChecklistWhen an organisation has invested in developing managers to coach, how do you help them to stay on top of the game post-training? Phil Deer has developed this simple coaching checklist for managers.

What is coaching? My favourite author on the subject, Sir John Whitmore, defines it as “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance – helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

Coaching goes beyond training or teaching in that it allows your colleagues to find their own solutions to their problems – and people are far more likely to accept an idea if they’ve come up with it themselves.

Here are my tips for effective coaching:

1. Choose your moment:
The next time someone comes to you for the answer to a problem, ask yourself “Do they know the answer already?” If they might, then this might be a chance to coach them. If you are busy and the issue is not immediately urgent, offer a time later in the day to discuss the situation.

2. Tasks and behaviours:
Coaching can be a powerful tool for both activity-based issues and behavioural change. With greater emphasis now on HOW we work as well as WHAT we do, this can help us all to work more effectively together.

3. Be naieve:
Very often, you will know the answer to their question. Put this to one side, and instead ask questions to get them to come up with their own ideas. An effective coach asks lots of ‘open-ended’ questions to get their colleague to explore the issue and potential solutions. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions.

4. Set clear goals:
Make sure you and your colleague both know what they are looking to get out of the conversation. “I want to be more organised” is not a clear goal – “I want to be able to submit my weekly report by 10am on a Tuesday” is.

5. Hand over the pen:
Managers are often tempted to take ownership of their teams’ problems. This can be quite tiring though, when you have eight team members all with their own issues. It’s their issue, so get them to take responsibility for solving it wherever possible.

6. Recognise the impact on you:
You might be the sort of person who feels good about solving people’s problems and so feel reluctant to let go of offering solutions. Recognising this is the first step to changing your coaching style.

7. Follow up
Checking back with your colleague is vital to ensuring that they have made the changes they are proposing. Set a date and time to discuss their experiences with the situation – and make sure that you stick to it.

8. Get feedback:
Ask your colleague how it was for them. What did they like? What could you have done differently? This will make you an even better coach next time.

9. Get support:
Brush up on the materials from any coaching skills courses that you may have attended in the past. Speak to your line manager, coach or mentor to run through how you might deal with a challenging situation (this will be a chance for them to coach you.)

10. Coaching is contagious:
Once you have a success in getting people to come up with their own solutions to problems, you will want to do it again. And again. Other people will see you doing it and will want to do the same. Your team will notice that you are giving them more freedom and responsibility. Your department will become more successful. Your organisation will become a better place to work. Need I say more?


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