5 Coaching Skills Every Manager Needs

Whether you’re a manager trying to develop your people or trying 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.

coach hatMany people are unsure about 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?

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

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 (avoid asking “why?”)

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

Open-ended/Inviting Questions

Close-ended/Evaluative Questions

  • What is the status on “x”?
  • How can I help you?
  • Can you tell me about that error?
  • Walk me through your thought process?
  • What other approaches might you take next time?
  • How are your emotions influencing your perception of the situation?
  • Are you finished yet?
  • Do you have a problem?
  • Did you make that mistake?
  • Will this really solve the problem?
  • What made you think that was a good idea?
  • 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 truly builds new skills and enables them to learn from experiences.

BONUS FEATURE: Your career will blossom if you are known to be a good developer of people – a critical skill for long-term success!

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Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults.  Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@www.people-results.com.

Martha Duesterhoft