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6 Must Have Coaching Skills for the Successful Manager

November 07, 2013, by Stephanie Messier | Performance Management

Some managers may believe they are using an effective coaching approach when managing their team only to later realize that their employees are still asking the same questions and/or are not improving even after having provided them with feedback.  A study conducted by Bersin & Associates showed that organizations with managers who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent as compared to those who never coach. 

Many people, including those who are being coached, don’t understand what coaching involves so here are some key descriptors:

  • Coaches focus on the employee vs. the task – It’s about development.
  • Coaching is not about “fixing” someone – it’s about facilitating the learning process by understanding someone’s thinking.
  • Coaching is about Ask vs. Tell Approach – by asking open-ended and enlightening questions, it allows the employee to create their own solutions.  They are much more engaged if it is their own idea.
  • Coaching is about setting clear accountability for actions and outcomes. 
  • Coaching is something that can happen in-the-moment by capitalizing on those on-the-job learning experiences.
  • Coaching is Leading by Example – Modeling the right behaviours and being credible are key ingredients of successful coaching experiences. 


So how can a Manager behave more like a Coach?

  • Ask questions to enable the coaching process.  This helps you understand their point of view and encourages two-way dialogue.  For example – “How do you feel the project is going?”
  • Ensure your questions are open-ended to allow the employee to think through their own problems without providing a yes or no answer.
  • Guide the conversation with the use of powerful questions  Examples include:
    1. “What does success look like?”
    2. “What have you already tried?”
    3. “How will this decision help you accomplish your goal?”
    4. “What are some barriers you can think of to success?  What are some of your ideas for overcoming those barriers?”
  • Avoid the trap of doing all the talking – spend more time on asking questions and listening.  (You have two ears and one mouth; use them in proportion!)
  • Ensure your employee understands what is expected of them by asking clarifying questions.
  • Invest your time to support the employee by providing continuous feedback.

As you can see, the main premise in coaching is to Ask Questions to engage the employee in creative problem solving, versus telling them what to do.  What questions will you ask your employees today?

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Are You a Doer or a Coach?

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