Why Should Managers Do More Coaching?

Career Advice, on the job

Why Should Managers Do More Coaching?



GROW (goals, reality, options, will) - life coaching motivation acronym, chalk handwriting and sticky notes on blackboardWhether you’re a manager trying to develop your people or trying to develop yourself and build a career, you need to know that one of the key ways you can have a positive impact on the business is by operating more as a Coach than a Manager.

A study conducted by Bersin & Associates, showed that organizations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach. Many people are unsure what is different about a coaching approach, so let me outline some key descriptors:

Coaches take an Ask vs. Tell approach.  Don’t tell the employee what to do, instead ask powerful questions.  This allows the employee to create their own solutions.  When they go through the thought process to get to resolution, they are much more bought-in…it’s their idea!

Coaches focus on the employee vs. the task —it’s about their development.

Coaching is not about “fixing” anyone. Again, it’s about their development and facilitating the learning process.  Coaches set up a clear accountability structure for action & outcomes. It helps keep the employee focused on achieving the desired goals.  Coaching is something that can/should happen as needed and in-the-moment, which is the best way for learning to occur. It’s a great way to reinforce what may have been learned in the classroom by capitalizing on those on-the-job learning experiences.

So how can a Manager behave more like a Coach?

  • Ask good questions to enable the process.
  • Meet the employee where they are.
  • Guide (through questions, not directives) the conversation to a mutual agreement of the priorities of development.
  • Ensure that the feedback information is heard and understood by the employee. Again, asking clarifying questions is the best way to do this.
  • Do your part to support the employee through a shared commitment to their goals, responsibilities and action steps.

The Heart of Coaching = Effective Conversations

What makes a conversation “effective”? It’s about a dialogue (asking), not a monologue (telling). The best coaching questions are:

  • Open-ended
  • Focused on useful outcomes
  • Non-judgmental (don’t ask “why?”)

Here are some examples of good open-ended questions compared to the close-ended version:

Open-ended/Inviting Questions:

  • Where are you on “x” job?
  • How can I help you?
  • Can you tell me about this error?
  • What criteria are you using?
  • What other approaches might you take next time?
  • How are your emotions influencing your perception of the situation?

Close-ended/Irritating Questions

  • Are you finished with “x” job yet?
  • What’s your problem?
  • Are you responsible for this error?
  • Will this really solve the problem?
  • What in the world made you do it?
  • That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
  • Didn’t I go over this already?
  • Why didn’t you do “x”?               

So are you up for the challenge? Your employees, the business and your career will all benefit if you begin to operate in Manager as Coach mindset. Your employees will be developed and challenged in way that they truly build new skills and learn from experiences and your career will blossom if you are known to be a good developer of people – a critical skill for long-term success!





2 thoughts on “Why Should Managers Do More Coaching?

  1. I love your point that it all comes down to effective conversations. And both lists questions are useful and a great reminder.

  2. The benefits of coaching are numerous Martha – thanks for reminding us that each of us, as Managers, can incorporate these key things into our every day conversations with employees!

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