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Management Training: Tips for Coaching

06 September 2013

"Coaching employees" will feature prominently in the job description of most managers but what exactly is coaching and how am I supposed to do it alongside everything else on my ‘to do list’?

Coaching is, in simple terms, the process of encouraging employees to take the initiative and try to come up with their own ideas for resolving problems. This is achieved through a structured questioning process which we will come onto shortly. Mentoring, on the other hand, is a process whereby a manager will tell their employees what they believe the correct solution to a problem is and how they should go about resolving it.

Both approaches have their merits and most successful managers are those who can use both at appropriate times. On the face of it though, mentoring appears to be the most time effective and direct way of managing people.

Not necessarily. For example, if you were asked to jot the number of each person in your phone without turning it on, I would wager that you would probably struggle. A few years ago however the chances are you could remember more numbers off by heart than you can currently. It is not that you have lost the ability to remember a number; there is simply no point as all you have to do is look at your phone.

If we use this analogy in terms of managing employees, how many of your staff use you as they might a mobile phone? They are perfectly capable of thinking for themselves but don’t need to because the answer will be provided for them by their manager. In the long term, you will spend more time going over something for the umpteenth time and risk losing the spark and creativity that you probably sought out when you initially recruited.

Some tips on how to structure a coaching conversation include:

  • Begin by asking your employee what they would like to achieve as opposed to simply talking about the problem. They may need to go away, give this some thought and come back to you.

  • Once you have identified what they would like to happen, ask them to consider how realistic they believe this outcome is and what they are basing this on.

  • We now reach the crossroads between coaching and mentoring. As tempting as it is to give them the answer (and it will normally be very obvious to you!) ask the employee to consider options which may be available to them, considering both the pros and cons of each option.

  • Once an option has been decided upon, ask the employee to consider what exactly they will do, when they intend to do it and what they believe may make it difficult for them to achieve success.

For more tips, or to learn more about our coaching training, please call us on 01295 675506 for a free consultation.

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