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Are you an effective Coach?

22nd November 2018

Coaching enhances the performance and learning ability of others. It involves providing feedback, and using other techniques such as motivation, effective questioning and consciously matching your own communication style to the learner’s confidence and competence to undertake a task. Coaching can also help with issues and challenges before they become major problems.

Coaching is about:

  • Imparting knowledge
  • Developing skills
  • Changing attitudes
  • Providing opportunities for people to learn
  • Helping people learn for themselves
  • Building a high-performance team, day in, day out

‘I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities’ – Bob Nardelli

Whilst there are many different models of coaching, here we are not considering the ‘coach as expert’ but, instead, the coach as a facilitator of learning.

Good coaching is based on helping people to help themselves – it doesn’t rely on a one-way flow of instruction

Our top tips for becoming an effective coach include:

  1. Time & place

Effective coaching requires focus and attention, so choose an appropriate time and place. Aim to find somewhere that’s conducive to coaching, away from distractions and interruptions.

  1. Goals and Targets

Start by identifying the goals. It’s important to clarify what you and the learner expect to get out of the coaching. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for you?

Ask them what they need, how do they want to develop and look for any areas where coaching may help. Define the goals in terms of what the learner will be able to do.

In addition, set targets to reach these goals. Break things down into a logical sequence of manageable stages, so that the learner’s understanding, skills and confidence can build up slowly, step by step. Explain how you will work together to overcome any difficulties.

  1. Tone

Pick the right tone and manner. Think about how you’ll come across to the learner. Don’t be patronising. Treat others in the way that you’d like to be treated yourself.

Why not allow yourself to be coached to understand the process?

‘A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be’ – Tom Landry

  1. Promote discovery

If you’re coaching someone to complete a specific task, always show them how to do it first – so they can see what good looks like. Go through it together and then let them try to do it on their own whilst you observe.

  1. Equal partners

Treat them as equals. There is an advantage to admitting that you have made mistakes in the past. This will show that you’ve learnt from things that you’ve got wrong before and will encourage them to do the same.

  1. Praise & criticism

Use praise and constructive criticism. Praise is a dish that’s best served hot, so do it immediately, don’t save it up for later.

Good praise is specific – focus on what was particularly good. What are they getting right?

Always be constructive if the coachee made/makes a mistake. Encourage them to discover for themselves what went wrong and why.

  1. Ask not tell

Resist the urge to tell the learner what to do. In the long run, spoon feeding people teaches them nothing but the shape of a spoon!
Ask questions – get them to think about how they can improve.

Hold back on your judgement of their solutions. Try to build on their ideas. Encourage them to come up with ideas based on their own knowledge and experience.

  1. Follow-up

Follow up afterwards. It’s unlikely that your coaching sessions will have covered every eventuality. After each coaching session, always check on the learner’s progress.

Provide any necessary resources and put everything in place to allow them to do their job properly. Make sure they know where to get help if they need it.

‘Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them’ – Tim Gallwey

Coaching. Just one of our management and leadership topics. View the full range of modules available for help and support in your role.