Are you aware that coaching is one of the most effective ways to develop employees? And when done effectively it leads to improved employee performance, which leads to increased productivity, which leads to bottom-line results. Despite knowing this, many managers are reluctant to coach.
Today, most managers have had some training in coaching people for high performance. And according to BlessingWhite, a global leadership-development firm, many organizations desire to build a culture where leaders rely on coaching to improve the performance of their direct reports.
In their 2016 report “The Coaching Conundrum”, BlessingWhite found that organizations and leaders worldwide are having a difficult time reaping the rewards that coaching promises. How can that be, you ask? Coaching isn’t easy to operationalize. It means not only training managers but, persuading them to work individually with each staff member to have coaching conversations that align skills and build commitment.
Research shows that coaching skills have a huge impact, and can significantly affect people and profits within organizations that are committed to training managers to use coaching to guide performance and develop employees. Managers who effectively harness coaching skills, How to Obtain Leadership Skills, reap multiple benefits. Their employees are more committed, willing to put in greater effort, and are less likely to leave.
So Why Don’t More Managers Coach?
Lack of time has been cited as the main reason managers give for failing to coach employees. But the real reasons may be different, note John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett in The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow (McGraw-Hill Education, 2010).
Three common barriers stand in the way:
- Misconceptions about what coaching is
- A desire to avoid difficult conversations
- No clear game plan for initiating and framing coaching conversations
Many managers lack a clear understanding of what is meant by coaching, and even when it might be needed. But coaching brings opportunity – to engage in dialog with direct reports, create trusted relationships, collaborate and facilitate in growth.
What too often happens is, managers return to the office after training in coaching skills and pretty quickly revert to old habits. Rather than taking time to ask questions to help the individual to figure out their own solution, many find it easier to do what managers are trained to do – explain and provide instructions. And that is not a bad thing, but it means a missed opportunity to partner with an employee to bring out their best self.
I’ve seen this happen all too often in the organizations where I’ve coached leaders and managers. Despite the training they receive in coaching skills, many don’t really use the skills in the way that they are designed to be used. For example, having a “task updates” meeting with an employee can’t really be considered a coaching conversation, even though many one-on-one conversations may focus on project status updates.
Think about it. If you define a coaching conversation as one that expands an employee’s awareness, his thinking, and his capability, then task updates that don’t do that aren’t coaching conversations.
Let me ask you this: as a manager, how often are you focusing on expanding awareness, thinking and capability when you have conversations with your people? What about your conversations with your own boss? Are you having good coaching conversations?