Sending line managers on courses to learn how to coach doesn’t have a strong track record of working. One of the reasons is that “it takes two to tango” – effective coaching is something you do with other people, not to them.
You can engage your team with the coaching process by:
- Exploring with them how and why having coaching culture in the team would be beneficial for both them as individuals and for the team as a whole
- Explaining that your role as line manager is not necessarily to do coaching (although it may sometimes involve that), but to create the climate, where coaching happens.
- Explaining, too, that in teams, which are good at managing learning, everyone has responsibility for both their own learning and colleagues’ learning. This also means that anyone in the team might be coached by a colleague – including you!
- Outlining the basic skills of coaching – listening, questioning, giving feedback and so on. Ask for their help in improving these skills for everyone, including you.
- Initiating a discussion about what a coach and coachee should legitimately expect of each other. For example:
- Respect and self-respect
- Being as non-judgemental as possible
- Preparing for coaching sessions
- Reflecting after coaching sessions
- Giving and taking constructive challenge
- Taking an item from the normal team agenda and using it to practice coaching as a group. This works best when one team member is struggling to work through a complex issue and the line manager-coach can facilitate the team in asking them questions, which will help their thinking. You will find initially that you have to intervene, when people start to offer advice, but over a few sessions, most people develop the skills to be non-directive. Such simple practice sessions build people’s capacity to both be coached and coach each other.
- Exploring with the team how a coaching approach could help tackle other problems the team faces. For example, could a difficult customer be brought round by using coaching questions to understand their concerns?
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