We can't do everything on our own. Sometimes we need someone else to take the lead. But sometimes we simply need someone to point the way. That's where coaching comes in.
So what is coaching, exactly? And how does it differ from mentoring? Well, we have a video on exactly this topic – but, put simply, coaching is the art of getting people to help themselves. Where a mentor might tell you what to do, a coach will listen, reflect, and ask questions. In this way, they elicit ideas from the coachee – who ultimately finds their own answers.
"Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them."Timothy Gallwey, author and coach.
Coaching is a formal pursuit – but, increasingly, coaching skills are being used by managers and leaders to help them develop and look after their people. And an informal, everyday approach to coaching is gaining currency, too.
At Mind Tools, we've noticed that. And in our brand-new batch of videos, we focus on coaching skills – to show you the ropes, and to make coaching part of your everyday approach to management.
What Is Coaching?
The first of our six coaching videos, How to Be a Workplace Coach, introduces the concept of coaching and offers seven rules to get you started. From confidentiality to the types of questions you should ask, this video is a perfect first step into the world of coaching.
There are many potential pitfalls with coaching. Our video Coaching Conversations: Dos and Don'ts helps you to avoid the common traps and have great conversations. Maybe you think it makes sense to have a set checklist of questions. No: that's a don't! It's crucial that a coaching conversation flows naturally: a checklist will create a more stilted, formal atmosphere. Broad or specific, the dos and don'ts in this video apply to any and every coaching conversation.
When to Coach
Coaching doesn't need to be a scheduled, orchestrated, formal event. In fact, coaching often works best "in-the-moment," when people are experiencing work-related challenges. Our video Informal Coaching shows how you can coach over a cup of coffee or in the hallway between meetings. In this video there's also an example scenario, so you can see what informal coaching looks like in action!
Coaching is also a great way to lead people through organizational changes. If you're a leader, it's your responsibility to guide people through change to reach the new status quo. Change can be tough. But, with coaching, you can make the process smoother and, ultimately, more successful. Our new video Coaching Through Change shows you how it's done. And that one features a scenario, too! You can see the principles put into practice in a difficult management situation.
As a manager, you have plenty of opportunities to employ coaching methods and tools as part of nurturing your team.
The POSITIVE Model of Coaching is a great way to set and monitor team goals. It uses an eight-step framework that encourages coachees to adopt energizing, exciting goals – and shows how you, the coach, can do your bit to encourage them.
People you coach will be at different levels of ability and determination. Someone with low skill and high enthusiasm will need a different approach from that of someone who's highly skilled but lacks direction. The Skill/Will Matrix Video helps you to decide how to pitch your input with your coachee depending on their skill and will. It's a brilliant and simple tool for fine-tuning your approach to coaching.