Coaching isn’t a new leadership term. Chances are that you’ve already come across it in some form or another. In fact, research done in 2006 by leadership development firm BlessingWhite found that 73 percent of managers had some form of coaching training, but only 23 percent of people being coached (fewer than one in four!) thought that the coaching had a positive effect on their job.
It doesn’t always have to be a struggle — there are easy ways for managers to become more coach-like. So if you’re already committed to being helping your managers coach but the actual practice of coaching hasn’t stuck, try these surprising tips for getting there.
Don’t Create a Coaching Culture
Coaching is not a miraculous fix-all that, when implemented into the organizational culture, immediately drives change and improves the workplace in all sorts of ways. It’s a tool that is best put to work to support a specific objective.
The problem is that when we focus on a coaching culture, it’s easy to confuse the means for the end. This is where you need context. Coaching works best when it’s used for a specific purpose within the business—increasing customer retention, for example. Otherwise coaching seems nebulous, theoretical, and divorced from the reality of the busy workplace.
The second context that matters is a personal connection. Managers need to see why coaching matters and what’s in it for them. They need a direct line of sight between coaching and how it will reduce their workload and encourage more autonomous, accountable teams. This context enables managers to see coaching as a support and solution, rather than as another thing being added to their plate.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Coaching doesn’t need to (and, in fact, shouldn’t be) a big formal event. Managers are overwhelmed and overcommitted, and they feel like they don’t have time to take on the task of coaching. For coaching to stick, it needs to fit into a manager’s daily life—and it can’t take up too much time.
Be brief. Unless your managers can coach in 10 minutes or less, they can’t coach. The last thing they need is long head-nodding conversations. Instead, they need to have casual, everyday “in the hallway” coaching conversations that get to the heart of the matter quickly.
Be Adequate, Not Excellent
The truth is that being an adequate coach is more than enough in most cases. Over-coaching wastes time and money. What’s more, it sets an unnecessarily high standard when it comes to coaching in general. Adequate coaching both works in the moment and is efficient. This helps normalize coaching and encourages managers to try it. Managers just need to up their conversation game a little bit to make a big difference.
No doubt, we’re hardwired to give advice. But promoting a little more curiosity rather than expertise creates perfectly adequate coaches.
Challenging the broad ideas of what coaching means by following these counterintuitive truths can help a company invest in practical, adaptable coaching skills that will change the way managers lead for the better.