Life moves at such a pace that it’s easy to get stuck in a rut in all sorts of ways; including how we coach and support our people.
When was the last time you considered the quality of your coaching? If your people were asked to rate the quality of the coaching you deliver out of ten, how would you score? Chances are, if you average any lower than a seven, you could do with brushing up on your technique.
Coaching, in the context of a professional workplace is about supporting, encouraging and unlocking. What it is not is doing, telling or counselling. Successful coaching should provide development as a result of guided conversation and questioning that helps the person being coached (i.e. the coachee), to find their own solutions.
10 Tips for Better Coaching
- Be human Always keep it real. Don’t apply a process or shoehorn the coachee into your preferred coaching structure. Use structure to keep the conversation guided and on-track whilst having a natural conversation.
- You’re a passenger Just like a driving instructor, the coachee is in the driving seat and you are next to them, perhaps using the dual controls at certain points to guide and steer, but ultimately it is them that is in control. If any coaching is to be successful, the coachee must take ownership; only they can make the change and you can only be there to support that change.
- Questions are the answer Coaching should feel like a bit of an exploration for the coach, and like any true explorer, you don’t always know where you will end up when you set off. As the coach, you don’t have to know the answers to all of your questions – gone are the days when the coach was expected to know it all. Set off on the exploration together and use good quality questions to get to the destination together.
- Listen up Our top 10 list would be incomplete if the next tip following great questions wasn’t about great listening. Forget about what’s going to come out of your mouth next, what happened in the last meeting or what you’re going to have for lunch: just listen. Which questions are easy for the coachee to answer and which ones put them on the spot? Listen to what they are saying and what they’re not sayingand use your intuition to guide you.
- Do your homework Spend some time preparing for the coaching conversation. What do you know already? Where were they last time you talked? What have they been doing recently? Where do you think they want or need to be? Don’t over think this stage and make sure that you can still ‘be human’ and flexible in the conversation.
- Think ‘mindset’ Naturally, coaching must address knowledge and skill however don’t underestimate the power of attitude and mindset. When all is said and done, we must want to develop or change our approach. Remember: no will, no way!
- Look who’s talking Most of us know that the coachee should be doing most of the talking, although that’s easier said than done. Sometimes, when we get going we do just love the sound of our own voices. It’s natural enough for us to want to takeover, after all we are trying to help the coachee and give them the benefit of our wealth of knowledge, aren’t we? Always aim for that golden rule of 70 / 30, with them doing 70% of the talking and use your great questioning and listening skills to get there.
- What can they do The conversation should be all about positive action that they can take, rather than what they can’t do or what is the responsibility of someone else. Consider the responses to asking this question in different ways: What can they do? What can they do? What can they do? What can they do?
- Lay your cards out If you are having a natural and open conversation, it should be easy for you both to lay your cards on the table when you come to a brick wall or a stumbling point. Sometimes, if you’re not getting anywhere it just takes you to say so and ask what’s going on for the coachee. Where are they right now? What aren’t they telling you?
- To be continued And finally of course, you can both have a great coaching conversation, but it still needs you as the coach to follow up on what was agreed to keep things moving. Agree with them what this follow-up looks like (remember: they decide), and always keep your side of the follow-up bargain.
Put some time aside to consider how your approach to coaching needs to develop; what are you already doing brilliantly that you can leverage even more, and where are the areas you want to develop?