Whenever I lead Zoomly’s ‘How to coach your people’ workshop, there are a few things we need to clear up early on. For starters, what coaching is – and isn’t (for example, mentoring, counselling, consulting to name a few). After that, a perfectly reasonable question always comes up:
When on earth am I supposed to find the time to do that? Is this some kind of night job?
The aim of the workshop is to encourage managers to use a coaching approach with more of their people, more of the time. To do more asking and less telling. The aim isn’t to burden people who are already very busy with an extra (or night) job. Instead, when managers get the hang of using coaching as just one handy tool in their kit, they are much better able to manage their workload.
When can you take a coaching approach? There are heaps of everyday opportunities, for example:
Delegating a task. Instead of telling someone what to do – and how to do it – set clear expectations of results and then use coaching questions to get your team member thinking.
“When have you done something like this before?”
“What have you found works well?”
“How will you go about it?”
“What questions do you have?”
“When will you do it?”
This isn’t an interrogation; as your ‘coachee’ responds to the questions, you need to give them fair hearing and listen very carefully. Their answers will indicate levels of confidence and commitment to get the job done. The dialogue may develop to cover the support they need or where they need to look for the right information. As they respond in their own words they’ll become clearer about what they need to do.
Giving feedback. Rather than just telling someone how well/badly they did that presentation, you can coach them so they’ll learn from the experience.
“How do you think it went?”
“What worked well / not so well?”
“What have you learned about presenting?”
“What will you do more / less of next time?”
“When will you put this into practice?”
As the dialogue develops you might share a few observations of your coachee’s behaviour in the presentation, for example they spoke clearly, made good eye contact – or read off their slides and mumbled. But if they’ve figuring this out for themselves, they’ll take much more ownership of their performance next time.
So no, coaching isn’t a night job. It’s a highly effective tool for your day job.
You may find this blog post useful: Ask or tell? Which works best?
Image credit: @Dmitry_Guzhanin / Deposit Photos