Coaching is a style of leadership that is characterised by working together and in partnership rather than dictating. It is thought to induce a higher level of creativity and improves motivation amongst employees.
If coaching is a management style that you are interested in learning more about, this article will highlight my coaching experiences and give you a couple of tips to help you start the coaching conversations with your team.
So what is coaching all about?
It is based on the premise of asking an employee questions which will help them realise the answers for themselves rather than telling an employee directly how to fix something.
People that have figured things out for themselves are likely to feel more fulfilled, motivated and happy in the long run. It helps them to grow and learn as an individual and maybe even strive to be something bigger than they are.
My first coaching conversation, I was sceptical about the process. But through following simple steps, the coach was able to help me solve a problem I had without making any suggestions or giving direction. It was a strange but satisfying process.
Following this, the manager I had absolutely coached me, not in the process driven way that my first time had been, but in a more organic way that didn’t even feel like coaching, just like someone taking an interest in what I had to say, which in itself is hugely rewarding.
The work I did during this time is something I am really proud of; it was self-driven and that makes the accomplishment all the more valuable. It has given me a great amount of self-confidence and is something that has steered my work life in the past year.
The odd occasion I would absolutely know that I was being coached and I could call them out, but it didn’t matter because at that point, I knew that their intention was to help me grow and achieve something. That meant a lot.
How do you start a coaching conversation?
The beginning of a coaching conversation is through simple questioning. Asking employees to share their thoughts.
As they share, they will begin to find connections in their mind and may even find potential solutions. You could have an arsenal of constructive coaching questions in your mind to help you facilitate a coaching conversation, such as;
- What have you tried already?
- What are you good at? How could you use this to find a solution?
- What could be gaps in your abilities that you think might help?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Who might be able to help you?
- How can I help you further?
- How clear are you on what you need to do next?
- What would help you gain clarity?
None of your questions should focus on the problem’s specific details, just around directing the person’s own thinking. You should avoid, at all costs, suggesting what employees should think or do. This can be very difficult as a senior manager because to you, the answer could be staring them in the face but they just can’t see it. Just remember how great they will feel when they eventually do.
If you would like to give coaching a try with your employees but you're not sure how to begin, get in touch and unlock your teams potential.