A lot of times, you hear people use the words "manage" and "coach" interchangeably. Although coaching is a part of managing, they are different styles of leading. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as:
Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
When you manage, you tell and direct employees on what to do to reach a specific outcome. When you coach, you partner with your employees to achieve a desired result. Your goal is to help them explore what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Using this type of approach is how you create a coaching culture.
When it comes to business, there are two types of coaches that you can work with – internal and external.
The framework that follows provides a simple process that you can use to build a coaching culture:
Let’s look at each of these steps in detail.
Open & Connect
It is important to establish rapport at the beginning of a coaching session. To open, you can ask the employee how he/she is doing, how things are going, or other questions to build a connection. The key is to be sincere, authentic, and listen.
After you establish rapport, the next step is to ask the employee their goal or agenda for the meeting.
Since this is a manager/employee coaching relationship instead of a typical client/coach session, you might also want to state your purpose for the meeting.
After you open and connect, the next step is to start the conversation. Ask the employee to share their thoughts. Your job as the coach is to listen – deeply, deliberately, and mindfully.
Ask open-ended, empowering questions to help the employee dig deeper and explore areas that he/she may not have considered. The goal of asking questions is to help the employee gain new and different insights and to challenge any status quo thinking in a way that is curious instead of provocative and confrontational.
Set Action Steps
Help the employee set action steps to reach their desired goal. A simple question to ask is, "What is at least one thing that you can do today to get started?” Exploring the answer to this question provides a way for the employee to personally buy-in and commit to an outcome. Often, setting one action step leads to another and another.
Having a comprehensive plan is ideal, and yet there are situations when it is challenging even to develop one action step because there is insufficient information, or the employee is in an exploratory stage. In these situations, allow the employee to set an action, research it, and experiment a bit before a complete plan is submitted. Be sure to set a deadline and check-in to keep the process moving.
A part of coaching includes a follow-up process. Following up includes more than just making sure the employee completed the task. It includes:
A developmental coaching environment promotes personal improvement and gives employees opportunities to learn and grow. When properly used, developmental coaching encourages employees to:
Coaching is an empowering, motivational, and inspirational process. Even though empowerment and inspiration come from within, as a manager, you can create an environment where employees feel confident and supported. The more confident employees feel about what they do and how they do it, the better their decision making becomes.
Until next time...
Latarsha Horne is an ICF Credentialed Coach who helps new and emerging leaders feel more confident, decisive and empowered to take charge and do their jobs. Her coaching style is energy-action based, open-minded, and straight-forward. If you want to be challenged and grow, she's the coach for you.