Coaching is everywhere
Look around you – you’ll see people being coached every day. Parents who are building skills and confidence in their kids. Sports coaches, enhancing performance and drive. Wellness and fitness coaches in your local gym or on social media. What do they all have in common? And how can you become a great coach to your team and in your business?
Coaching depends on a growth mindset
When done well, coaching is the process of harnessing the power latent in the individual to achieve beyond what they thought possible. The philosophy behind coaching is based on the growth mindset. This simple belief informs the best thinking behind how to drive engagement, motivation and performance.
Simply put, a growth mindset is the belief that everyone is capable of achieving more than they think, and potential is limited only by expectations put in place by others. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset, which is the belief that people are the finished articles, and are only capable of doing what they have done in the past. How often do you hear managers complain that “she will never change”, “he has always been like that”, “you can’t change the way people are” and the like?
Key steps to effective coaching
1. That’s why our first learning point is that to be an effective coach, you have to believe in the power of coaching first! Get a good coach yourself (ask someone you respect in your field to mentor or coach you or ask for recommendations) and put yourself through the process. Engage with it and respect it. Notice what works and what doesn’t for you and commit to changing your own behaviours first.
2. Coaching isn’t a “magic bullet” (let’s face it, in people management nothing is a magic bullet). We have often listened to managers who have attended coaching training complaining that “I have tried coaching him, but he still doesn’t change”. A good leader will understand when coaching is a useful tool and when other strategies are required. Get to know your people and what motivates them and what they need from you. If they aren’t feeling valued in other ways, their job is impossible, their team mates are making their life a misery, then asking them how they see their career progression is a non starter. Fix those things first.
3. Coaching starts from where the person is now. When you start to coach, use a tool like this matrix to identify how appropriate coaching is. A new employee or someone promoted into a new role may need instruction or guidance. Use your judgement to coach at the right level. Hone your skills at coaching people at different points in their career.
4. Coaching means believing in potential. Everyone has potential, the key question is, “potential for what?” How do you know what people can achieve? By talking to them. Get to know your people. Find out what motivates them and what gives their life meaning. Then you can help them map out a growth path. Don’t assume that your drivers are theirs. The process of coaching is about taking yourself and your own needs out of the conversation.
5. Coaching is a skill. Not everyone finds it easy. And it isn’t easy to do it properly. There is plenty of bad coaching around, coaching that is really “telling” in another guise, or coaching that skirts around true challenge. Work with skilled trainers to build your skill set, just as you would your skill set in your professional field or domain expertise.
6. Proper coaching is challenging for the coachee. He or she should sometimes be pushed outside their comfort zone and be able to safely challenge long held assumptions. Its not uncommon for it to unearth quite deep emotions. But it isn’t therapy and shouldn’t be substituted for it.
7. Coaching isn’t a substitute for poor management. Don’t send your people to be “coached” and expect it to fix poor performance that is really your problem because you haven’t managed them properly. Its not a pill or a medicine! Find out more about good performance management here.
“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” (Simon Sinek).