Is coaching a useful management skill?

coaching peopleWelcome to our latest post. You may be thinking it’s been a bit quiet. You’re right! I have taken some time off in August, which was wonderful. In this blog I focus on coaching as a management skill and a true leadership skill. What is it exactly, how do you do it and what are the benefits?

What about if you don’t manage people, is coaching relevant?

Yes, because as a skill set you still have yourself to manage and your peers.

Definition of Coaching

Before we can check out how useful coaching skills are to the line manager we need to define what it is. I like the way Myles Downey, in his book Effective Coaching, describes coaching as… “Potential minus interference is equal to performance”. What he means by this is that performance can be maximised and potential released if the stuff in the way can be removed or minimised. So someone can perform better in their job, i.e. you or a team member, if attention is focused on the right things and doing them right. Another way to consider coaching is that it’s about the future; it’s about achieving results and supporting someone through that process.

How to coach your people

If you manage people, coaching is a very powerful skill to have at your disposal. Imagine a manager and direct report having a conversation. It’s all about agreeing what has to be done namely setting some targets for the future. Having this role clarity can be a revelation in itself. Then by working backwards to the current day you can define what gap is there to fill to meet the targets. Having identified this gap, the line manager asks his/ her team member for all the possible options to meet that gap. What are all the ideas and possibilities that help achieve that target? This is the creative bit where the line manager mostly listens and when once the team member has exhausted his or her ideas only then can the line manager chip in theirs. This way you can tap into the resourcefulness of your coachee. After all, the manager as coach does not have to have all the answers! The last part of the process is agreeing a way forward. Out of all the ideas generated which does the coachee feel are the best and easiest? What timescales are realistic? Who can help or provide resources? What could go wrong and how can this be worked around? This is very similar to project management in getting the best ideas into action plans.

What about if you don’t manage people; how is coaching relevant?

If you don’t manage any people then this is still relevant in that you do manage yourself and self coaching is a very useful discipline, as is coaching peers. Colleagues can benefit enormously from support and listening but probably the most helpful bit is asking questions about their assumptions and giving them to think aloud in an uninterrupted way. In her excellent book Time to Think, Nancy Kline talks about the increase in ideas and energy from really questioning and listening with peers.

So what are the benefits of coaching to the organisation, the manager and the staff member? Why bother with this coaching stuff?

The answers to these questions will have to wait for another post, but if you want to get in touch in the meantime, please email, tweet, or leave a comment below!


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