April 25th – 26th, 2016
By Doug Upchurch
Proper coaching of your team of employees is critical to good leadership—and also leads to great results. Doug Upchurch, learning innovation strategist for Insights Learning and Development, has tips for coaching to full effect.
Of the many ways leaders get results, coaching their employees can often be overlooked as the most efficient way to get from Point A to Point B.
In fact, the American Management Association (AMA) reported in a global study of successful coaching practices that only one-half of today’s companies in North America use coaching.
The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Given the long-term scope and time investment necessary for effective coaching, it’s easy to see how leaders may avoid developing these skills or may even opt to use external coaches when available.
There are a couple of problems that arise from this avoidance, though. First, it’s coaching conversations, not management conversations, that provide the richness of development opportunities for employees. Second, when leaders aren’t prioritizing coaching conversations in their roles, they are basically leaving upside results on the table.
HR Monthly magazine summarized the efficacy of coaching by reporting that “recent studies show business coaching and executive coaching to be the most effective means for achieving sustainable growth, change, and development in the individual, group, and organization.”
Given the success that derives from successful coaching, it stands to reason that organizations should help leaders reframe coaching as not just another management burden but rather as a way to unlock results.
Whether you’re an experienced or emerging leader, here’s what we recommend to keep in mind when developing coaching skills.
Build Your Self-Awareness, and Acknowledge How You Can Be Perceived by Others
Like many aspects of being an effective leader, skilled coaching requires a strong foundation in self-awareness. Through this awareness, a leader who knows that he or she is not a natural “people motivator,” for example, will make more of an effort to adapt his or her approach to take this into account. Likewise, a leader who knows he or she is poor with time management can make an extra effort to manage his or her calendar carefully.
In contrast, leaders who are blissfully unaware of their shortcomings are likely to frustrate colleagues and negate their own credibility as a coach. There are a number of ways leaders can raise their level of self-awareness and do work on understanding themselves.
Personality assessments, like Insights Discovery, are one way to do this—but regardless of how it is developed, skilled coaching requires leaders to know how their style can be perceived by others.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, Upchurch presents two more recommendations for developing coaching skills.
Part II: More Tips to Coach Your Team to Success
In yesterday’s Advisor, Doug Upchurch, learning innovation strategist for Insights Learning and Development, discussed how good leaders can get results by honing their coaching skills. Today, Upchurch presents two final recommendations to keep in mind when developing these skills.
Practice Recognizing and Reading Your Coaching Recipient’s Style
It is incumbent on the coach to assess the person in front of them and to make adjustments in order to create the best coaching experience possible. This involves watching carefully to assess who you’re working with and recognizing his or her preferred interpersonal style. Being able to read people in this way will help managers save time by not using unsuccessful coaching approaches.
Skilled coaches should be asking themselves questions like, “Is the coaching recipient introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between?” “Does the person speak to think, or is he or she more comfortable with solo thinking time?” “Does the person take his or her time to bond over personal chat, or does the person want to get straight to the point?” The answers to these questions will help coaches know who they are working with and will enable them to tailor their approach accordingly.
Adapt Your Personal Style to Connect During Coaching Conversations
Whatever it is that you observe of your coaching recipient’s style, establishing a good working relationship means adapting your own style in order to better connect with theirs.
For example, you might:
- Set aside an extra 5 minutes to talk about your weekend with a coaching recipient who values the personal as well as the professional—even if you’d prefer to get straight to business;
- Send some thoughtful questions in advance to a coaching recipient who hates to be put on the spot—even though you might be more comfortable talking things out in the moment;
- Give your coaching recipient responsibility for arranging your sessions if he or she needs help with organizational skills or time management, despite your assumption that you should be in control; and
- Set—and stick to—an agenda for your coaching session if your coaching recipient loves order, even if you’d be happy to freestyle it.
It is not a far journey for a good leader to become a great coach, but it is a journey that requires intention and dedication. Although the investment in others can seem overwhelming, especially with all of the other looming pressures and responsibilities that are required of leaders, it’s important to remember that coaching can have an immediate impact and can enable endless results. All it takes is an understanding of self, an understanding of others, and the ability to adapt your style to meet the needs of those you are coaching.