If you want to explore different ways to develop your people’s skills and improve their performance at work, you may consider coaching them. Whereas coaching is seen by some as a corrective tool for when things are “going wrong,” with careful planning, it can be a positive technique that will help your coachees to focus on the steps they need to take to achieve their goals.
If you haven’t received training for the role, you may feel nervous about being a coach. In which case, I’d recommend that you take a look at our coaching resources. They contain useful information that will allay any fears you may have about coaching and will help you to apply this technique as effectively as possible.
If you still feel nervous, it might help you to think back to an occasion when a friend or colleague divulged feelings of discontent. If you listened to him or her, and encouraged him to figure out what steps he could take to improve his situation, then congratulations, you have already taken on the role of a coach! You don’t need to be officially trained in coaching to be a coach. As long as you stay within the scope of your skill set, you can coach effectively and help your people to develop.
Before I wrote this blog, I assumed that I knew what coaching was… I’ve often helped new starters get up to speed in their jobs. I thought I was coaching them. However, I now know that when I helped them, I wasn’t being a coach. Instead, I had merged the roles of mentor and trainer. I was careful to show or tell them what they needed to learn and I took an active role in helping to resolve any issues they were experiencing, but that’s not what coaching is about.
True coaching is about encouraging your coachee to come up with her own best solutions. You ask effective questions that will allow her to arrive at her own conclusions. With practice and experience, you’ll begin to understand what the “right” questions are.
Use active listening to help you focus on what your coachee is telling you, and ask open questions that will allow him to explore his subject. You can then move on to more specific and probing questions once he raises an issue or concern. Read our article on questioning techniques to find out how you can use open and closed questions to get the responses you need to help him.
Before you begin your coaching process, take some time to build a good rapport with your coachee, so that she can feel comfortable enough to be open with you. For the process to be effective, it’s essential that she feels she can trust you with her concerns and feedback. Imagining yourself in her position might help you to see how nerve-wracking it can be for her to open up about work issues and how important it is that there is trust between you. A good level of trust will also promote the kind of risk taking that will encourage her to try something new or different.
Coaching sessions needn’t be formal. They should typically take the form of conversations between the two of you. This will build that all-important rapport by keeping things as relaxed as possible, and will enable your coachee to open up to you. And when he does, make sure that you’re tactful in your responses. You can do this by choosing your words carefully, paying attention to your body language, and avoiding purely emotional reactions to what he says.
Remember that building rapport is not a one-way street. Sharing some personal information with your coachee about your life or your goals and aspirations will help her to feel more comfortable around you.
Frequent coaching can be beneficial for everyone involved. When you coach your team members effectively, you get to know them better, you help them reach their potential, and you develop your own coaching skills.
Use this quiz to help you find out how good your coaching skills are, identify the areas where you excel, and discover where you could improve. By doing this, you can work better with your coachees, and develop your team members effectively.
What has been your experience of coaching? Was it done well? And what could have been improved to make it more effective? Join in the discussion below!