If coaching is so effective why don’t managers do more of it?
When I run coaching programmes for managers they often arrive “bought in” to the idea of coaching. These days they don’t need convincing of the benefits, they are increasingly likely to have experienced being coached themselves, having read about it, or having received some training.
However, when it comes to the part in the programme where we consider what is going to get in the way of fully transferring and implementing their coaching skills these are some of the barriers that frequently arise:
- Lack of time
- Fear of seeming contrived e.g. “Oh I can tell you’ve just been on a course”
- Lack of confidence in skills
- Lack of organisational support i.e. organisation rewards results over time spent developing staff
- Feeling expertise/status under threat. Due to asking questions rather than giving answers
- Fear that team members won’t accept coaching
- Lack of opportunity to coach, especially in geographically dispersed teams
Many of the barriers, e.g. lack of time, lack of opportunity, lack of confidence, stem from a belief that coaching is only really coaching when it is formal, structured, diarised and lasts an hour. That just isn’t the case. Every interaction is a coaching opportunity and a chance to develop your skills and confidence.
This approach also deals with the fears about people rejecting the coaching approach or feeling it is “being done to them” as a result of your attendance on a course. You can choose to take a quiet, incremental approach to implementing coaching. For example, setting yourself a target to practice active listening in situations you know you find difficult for one week. You might follow this by focusing on asking effective questions where you would normally issue instructions, for a week. These small action steps taken consciously and consistently would effectively develop and sustain your skills and be unlikely to lead to objections from your team members. Who would object to being listened to well and asked for their thoughts, ideas and suggestions?
So, while other blocks to implementation may be more complex, if you consciously choose to look at each conversation as an opportunity for coaching, keep it front of mind, and recognise that 3 minutes of quality listening can be far more effective than a longer period of on/off listening you will overcome these barriers, and develop and sustain the coaching approach that you already know is such an effective part of your management toolkit.
I would love to hear more about what might be getting in the way of coaching your staff and what strategies you have found that work well for you.