It is funny that when I ask managers why they prefer to tell and direct rather than to coach, their answer would normally sound like, "It's faster and I don't have the time to coach them on matters such as these." Have you ever wondered why so many employees run to their managers for directions and decisions when you think that they could have thought of these simple solutions themselves?
There are three reasons that I can think of. One is that they do not want to take up the responsibility in event the situation goes wrong. They can safely hide behind their managers and claim that it was decided by the manager.
Secondly, the manager wanted it that way. It may make him feel important that he is consulted upon and that he has a chance to express his opinion on the matter. He gets angry and blames the subordinate each time something goes wrong that he was not consulted upon and this makes the subordinate avoid such unpleasant situation.
Thirdly, the manager might be unconsciously encouraging his subordinates to run up to him each time they faces a problem because he so readily offer solution to them. This makes him feel good about his usefulness and it also frees up the subordinates from taking up the responsibility. Such managers would love to have their subordinates make more decisions themselves and often laments the fact that they don't do it often enough..
So how does coaching frees up the managers time? Just imagine each time a subordinate comes up to you and say that he has a problem and would like to discuss with you. In a normal approach, you'd listen, ask a couple of questions and then blurt out a solution or a direction to him. In the coaching approach, you'd listen, ask more questions, listen more and ask more questions and then ask him what he might do on this situation. There can be only two responses. One; he says that he doesn't have the faintest idea as to what to do or two; he has a proposal..
Under situation one, you would ask him to go back and think about the possible options to take and end the conversation. When a manager does this often enough, he puts out the message that he is not a solution provider and he expects his subordinates to come with options for discussion..
Under situation two, the manager would proceed to stage two of coaching ie to as the subordinates what the implications would be to carry out those options. Again, this forces the subordinates to think like a manager..
I know many managers will say that in most cases they are urgent issues and they do not have the luxury of time to do those things above. I often challenge them to reflect upon all the so called urgent situations that they had encountered and relate how many were life threatening situations that they had to make the decisions on the spot and not a minute to waste. The answer I got is of course less than 1 percent of the time. Then they will say that they hate letting issues linger and float and they'd prefer to get it resolved on the spot. Then again, I'd challenge them to recall how many of such cases that they managed to resolve in one sitting. Their answer is often, not many. I'm not suggesting that the subordinate's options are better that that of the manager (sometimes they are). Most of the time, by virtue that the manager has ahd mer experience than that of their subordinates, he would have seen (I'm assuming here) or encountered similar situations in the past that allows him to make a better decision. It is because of this situation that their options are better than that of the subordinates that has looped many managers into the vicious cycle.
So, what would happen if you consistently ask for their opinions and suggestions and allow them to try them out? You get confident, motivated and empowered employees. What happens if you don't? You get saddled with the monkey on your back.
Coaching motivates. The very essence of coaching is about helping the other person learn. This in itself is very uplifting to the other person. It helps to enhance your image as caring and supportive manager and this will indirectly lift performance in the individual and team.
However I must also draw caution here. Some manager provides the lips service that they are all for the coaching process but this is somehow not felt by the subordinates. When such is the situation, it doesn't motivate. These managers have one-on-ones with the subordinates under the pretext of coaching and use the session to tell, drill and direct the subordinate on their own agenda. This gives coaching a bad name and the subordinates will lose faith on the coaching process. Thus it is so important for managers to understand what coaching really is and how it can be done correctly.
No one supports an idea stronger than his own! Coaching helps the person arrive at his own decisions about what needs to be done to improve on the situation. There are three possible situations here:
- Coachee who is very experienced at his work.
Coaching this category of people is easier. As a coach, all you need is to draw them to look at possibilities and get them to make decisions after exploring the advantages and disadvantages from their perspective. You may add value here by sharing your own perspective of the situation.
- Coachee who is quite experienced but require some new perspective
This category of subordinates is also quite easy to coach. They have the necessary experiences and they are able to grasp new possibilities fairly easily for them to decide on what is best. Your role as a coach here is to open up their perspective on the issue.
- Coachee who is new and have little experience
A subordinate who falls in this category may need a little bit more help on your side by you sharing possibilities with them and seeking their opinion of what they think may or may not work based on their limited experiences. By merely inviting them to share their opinion on the subject matter, you are already motivating them. When this process of empowerment is adopted as your way of life, you as a manager-coach will help them develop their self confidence in making decisions.
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POWERFUL PERFORMANCE COACHING TIPS
Author: Wai K Leong
Empowering Asian Mindsets Through Coaching
Publisher: Pelanduk Publishing Company
Book Size: 5.4 MB or 228 pages
Book Launch Gallery
Hosted by Pn. Sri Tessie Lim @ The Royal Lake Club on 29 August 2008Read More
I am always impressed with Wai's ability to be with the client and coach them from where they are. He brings clarity and authenticity to his coaching. He is able to reach the heart of the matter with grace and skill.
M.Ed, PCC, LPC, NCC New Perspective Coaching
Wai has a very professional Coaching Presence. He consistently listens on a deep level-he has a true talent here. He moves his client skillfully to Designing Actions, based on the client's focus. He is very honoring of his clients and asks good follow-up questions.
MCC, CL Inspired Mastery