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How to Optimize the Effectiveness of Manager Coaching


Coaching is primarily built on trust. This means that I trust my coach to have my best interest at heart and that their main intention toward me is enhancing my success. Because of this underlying benevolent philosophy, building leaders’ coaching skills should help build trust within the organization. The benefits of that trust, at the team and organizational levels, are well-documented.

However, it’s not just this gain in trust that can yield benefits from coaching. Coaching can also increase the return on the investment companies make in other forms of leadership development. This includes self-directed or online learning programs, facilitator-led programs, and special developmental assignments.

On the latter, DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) research supports the notion that leaders want developmental assignments. This development method was tied for the third most-desired learning approach in the 2023 GLF. However, internal coaching—from a manager or someone else involved in the project—is critical to the success of this development method. Why?

Coaching induces moments of self-reflection where the learner can process situations they’ve encountered and determine the effectiveness of their thoughts and actions. This, in turn, leads to focused goal setting and thus greater intentionality of actions and efforts, all of which are instrumental in helping convert learnings into actions on the job.

Additionally, assuming the objectives of development activities are well aligned with the business strategy, coaching can help facilitate desired behaviors required to achieve the business strategy.


The Impacts of Effective Coaching
When the coaching is good, the impacts are great, and people want more of it! According to our GLF research, leaders who get quality coaching from their managers are:

  • 4.3x more likely to feel they have a clear development path as a leader.
  • 2.7x more likely to feel accountable for being an effective leader.
  • 1.5x less likely to feel they must change companies to advance.

So, what is quality coaching? And if effective coaching yields such great benefits, why isn’t every leader great at it?


Five Elements of Quality Workplace Coaching
I started this reflection on coaching by highlighting the important element of trust. Here are some examples of how this trust is achieved and what quality coaching might look like:

  1. Success is the primary focus: The coachee believes that their success drives their leader’s coaching behaviors toward them.
  2. Superior listening skills: The coach is fully immersed in the moment and always attentive to what they are perceiving and hearing from the coachee.
  3. Courage and empathy: The coach has the emotional intelligence needed to recognize when candid feedback is required to trigger action or motivation from the coachee and the courage to deliver it clearly and empathetically.
  4. Humility: The coach can tame their ego in the pursuit of betterment rather than providing answers and solutions. (The coachee must also practice humility for the coaching to be effective.)
  5. Curiosity: The coach asks great questions, remains neutral, and allocates enough time to uncover the levers to a coachee’s success.

So, how do your leaders stack up against the above criteria? When looking at the list, does it surprise you that many leaders do not consider their managers effective coaches?

Learn where leaders go wrong as coaches and five ideas to optimize the effectiveness of your managers as coaches in DDI’s blog.

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