Part of your job as a manager and leader is to provide coaching to your direct reports. All employees deserve this, and they all need it to succeed and stay engaged with their work. But remember that there is a big difference between meeting with people on a regular basis, and coaching them.
Coaching is not giving advice, pointing out mistakes, or showing people how to complete a new task. Giving them “face time” also doesn’t qualify. So what is coaching?
Coaching is a process of mentorship that you use to bring out a person’s potential, help them overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Your role as a coach is to provide employees with a process of discovery that uses their goals and recent experiences to uncover their path to success. This takes time and patience to reveal to them what they might not see on their own.
You may be able to immediately see their issues but you must patiently allow your employees to discover them on their own by asking the right questions. You must also be careful to leave out personal bias. You do this to help the employee develop the thought patterns necessary to go it alone when similar circumstances arise. Don’t give them the answers or they will miss out on discovering key lessons before the learning process is completed.
Here are five key questions that indicate whether you are really coaching your employees:
- Do you finish most of your coaching sessions by answering their questions with questions?
- Do you give them your undivided attention for at least half an hour, twice per month, to talk about whatever they want?
- Do they talk more than you during their coaching sessions?
- Who develops their solutions and answers when you meet one on one?
- When you finish a coaching session, do you ask the question, “what did you take away from today and what will you do with it?”
If you are truly coaching your employees, your answers to the preceding questions will favor the employee—they should be the focus, they should do most of the talking, and they should develop the solutions while you guide them with great questions.
Coaching takes time, but its benefits are huge.
Howard Shore is a leadership development coach who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about leadership development coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at (305) 722-7213 or email him.