Working as a manager or leader in any workplace leaves a lot of room to influence other people. And shouldn’t that include then some specific coaching and discussion to help others improve their role and work results? I certainly think so and I also think that every person in a leadership or supervising role should be expected to learn about coaching in the workplace. If coaching were better understood and used on a regular basis, the results of whole teams and companies could be drastically improved given some time.
Coaching in the workplace is something I’ve practiced for a number of years through managing others and it is now one of the most effective ways I have to develop people for higher level roles, better performance and to address weaknesses getting in their way from being as effective as they could be. I originally learned the model I use now for coaching from Manager Tools at one of their effective manager conferences. I can’t stress the value enough of their many free podcasts and training for managers. These models and tools create a foundation for coaching that works reliably and you then only need to tweak it to fit your style, your methods for your workplace and to adjust each session of course to the person you are coaching, the most important part of course.
Uncovering Goals through Questioning
Questioning is a tool, unfortunately overlooked and under studied which can help you tremendously in coaching others. Learning to use probing questions and digging deeper with the 5 common W questions, you can get to the root of motivations or problems to uncover the real goals the other person might have. Its often easier to determine some simple goal or short term item that you can coach a person for, but if it has an underlying motivation and meaning that has more impact and value to the other person, it is worth using questions to uncover that. I have 3 previous articles on questions, all can really help in coaching:
- Better Communication: Using Questions Regularly
- Using the 5 W Questions to Improve Your Training
- Open Ended Questions Make Better Conversations
The Coaching Model
The model that Manager Tools is best described in their podcasts mentioned above. It is essentially a series of 4 steps toward achieving the coaching goal. They are:
- Set a Goal
- Brainstorm the Resources
- Create an Action Plan
- Act towards the Goal
Tailor Coaching To the Individual
Coaching only works if it is specific to an individual and the same coaching plan will never work for everyone. The brainstorming and even the goal could be the same, but each person will have their own action plan and steps to achieve their goal. This is because you need to let the action plan be something that works specifically for the individual you are coaching. For example, just because I know I can easily learn content from reading a book by some subject matter expert, I know this doesn’t work for everyone and reading a book in a coaching plan might be more discouraging to some individuals than it is helpful. Some people will need to learn by trial and error, some by courses or training, some self taught, some through experimentation, research or by hearing stories and reacting emotionally to some method. Everyone will have their own style and its your job as the coach to tailor the coaching to find the methods that work best for the individual and then incorporate that method for them to practice and learn most effectively.
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