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February 28, 2017

Coaching Skills for Managers: Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Yolande Conradie

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Please join us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: Friday, Mar 3 @ 1pm EST (6pm GMT)

Topic: Coaching Skills for Managers

Host: @Mind_Tools

About this Week’s Chat

When I was younger, "running" was very much a four-letter word, as I firmly believed I was just not designed to do it.

I played hockey, and after school enjoyed a variety of sports such as squash and badminton, so running after a ball was fine. But, running for its own sake was strictly off-limits. Until, that is, John entered my life.

I was working as HR manager for a group of health clubs. The chain's biggest club was our head office, and also where I worked and trained. I was disciplined but lacked the knowledge to adjust and develop my training program every few weeks.

One day a close colleague and I decided that we'd like to train with one of the health club's personal trainers. Both of us are strong-willed, detail-oriented and sure of what we want. We had good feedback about John from his existing clients, and despite being quiet, John was extremely knowledgeable and had a strong personality. He seemed like just the right person to be our personal trainer.

In our introductory session, John told us how he worked and asked us about existing injuries and training preferences. Neither of us had any injuries, but I made sure that he knew that I didn't run, wouldn't run, couldn't run, and was genetically not predisposed to running! I should have seen that John's knowing little smile spelled trouble.

Resisting the Coaching

Before the first week was over, we had short runs on the treadmill in each training session. You can probably imagine how I protested the first time that John told us to do it. I moaned and groaned through the whole five-minute running sessions. By the Friday of that week I realized that I'd probably survive the ordeal.

Then came the mother of all shocks! The following Monday John said that we'd still run on the treadmill twice during a session, but for seven minutes at a time. I felt betrayed. How could he? How dare he? But, again, by the Friday I once again realized that I might live to tell the story.

Of course it didn't stop there: soon it was one stretch of 15 minutes, then 20 and eventually 30 minutes. By this time I'd figured out that I was probably alright to run.

Secretly, I started feeling proud that I could manage 30 minutes on the treadmill. Eventually, I went to the health club on a Saturday morning and ran on the treadmill for an hour.

Just when I thought that I'd made it, John challenged me to start running on the road. I resisted for weeks and called him the most horrible names in my head. But, after a few weeks I succumbed and did a road run of five kilometers.

Road running is very different from running on a treadmill and at the finish line I was frankly exhausted. As I crossed the line I burst into tears, but not because I was tired. It was because I could hardly believe that I, who didn't have "running genes" a few months earlier, had just completed a five kilometer road run!

Coaching Strategy

What did John do that made a difference? Right from the start he wasn't our personal trainer, but our fitness coach. Whenever we had to do a new exercise, he showed us exactly how it had to be done, explained its benefits, told us why it had to be done in a certain way. He was also there to help us when we made mistakes.

While we were exercising, John often pushed us a little bit further than we thought we were capable of. He was firm, yet praised us for tiny successes and encouraged us all the time. When we didn't do as well as we could have, he patiently redirected us and reminded us how our effort fed into reaching our goals.

Although John was an accomplished athlete he never pushed his own achievements on us. Instead, he chose to make us shine. The better we performed the brighter he shone as a trainer.

Lastly, John saw potential and possibility in me that I didn't see. He believed in me, challenged me, and held me accountable. He pushed me and coached me until I saw what he saw: that I could run.

Nowadays I regularly run between eight and twelve kilometers at a time. Even though I haven't seen John in a long time, I know that, without his influence in my life, I would probably still have believed that I was simply unfit to run!

Coaching Skills for Managers

In our last Twitter poll we asked people if coaching from their manager made a significant impact on them or their careers. While 33 percent of people said it made a positive impact, almost 40 percent said that their managers don't coach them at all.

Dr Pramod Solanki (@PramodDrSolanki), a regular #MTtalk Twitter chat participant, suggested this week's topic, "Coaching Skills for Managers." We'd like to hear your thoughts, tips and ideas. The following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for the chat:

  • What is coaching in the context of a managerial role?
  • How can managers develop their coaching skills?
  • Are there any areas a manager should avoid when coaching their employees?
  • How does coaching help in building potential leaders?
  • Which skills do you think make a great coach?
  • Why might managers shy away from coaching?
  • What aspects of emotional intelligence are key to a coaching session?


To help you prepare for the chat, we've compiled a list of resources for you to browse.

How Good Are Your Coaching Skills?

High-Performance Coaching

The GROW Model

The OSKAR Coaching Framework

A Bit of Perfume

David Grove's Clean Language

Gibb's Reflective Cycle

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

At Mind Tools we like hearing from people all over the globe. So we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (6pm GMT). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.

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4 comments on “Coaching Skills for Managers: Good, Bad, and the Ugly”

    1. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts Pramod! Have a great rest of week and see you tomorrow eve.

  1. Hi Yolande. A great example of what coaching can do to a person. I am looking forward to the chat.

  2. Hi Pramod

    I'm also looking forward to the chat! I think it's such an important topic and one that deserves a lot of attention in workplaces all over the globe. See you on Friday. 🙂

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