8th January 2018

Are you a good coach?

How well does your manager coach you?  And how good a coach are you?

Very few people use coaching skills intuitively. It’s much easier to tell or instruct others to do things, or to point out when they are doing something wrong. And it’s easy to think we are ‘coaching’ when in fact, we are not.  It’s important to be mindful of the impact of our communications and to consciously choose when to coach.

Coaching isn’t mysterious or necessarily difficult - but it does have to be conscious and intentional. For it to be effective, we all need to think about when and how we coach. Focusing on key practical insights rather than getting bogged down in the theory can help make coaching more accessible and relevant to everyday work situations.  For example, when discussing a project with a member of your team and planning how to get your colleague to explore all the issues, or seizing ad hoc opportunities to ask a coaching question when someone comes to you for help.

Intention lies at the heart of effective coaching.  Do you want the other person to be able to think through a problem or task? Do you want to encourage them to explore options and decide for themselves which is the best way to proceed? Or are you more interested in getting your own solution implemented? There’s nothing wrong with the latter and sometimes instructing others to do it ‘your way’ is what the situation demands.  But when you intend to coach, you need to take a different approach.  And you need to do it consciously.

Coaching questions

Coaching questions are your most powerful tool for making a difference to the way your people think. Using questions to encourage someone else to think for themselves simply means choosing to the right kind of questions.

Divergent questions

The next time someone comes to you with a problem they want solved or a challenge they need to overcome, try asking them divergent questions to open up their line of thinking instead of giving them your views. It’s very tempting to want to share your opinion and experience. But if your intention is to coach the other person, try to resist this urge!

Start with questions to help them clarify the problem or situation. Questions like, ‘Describe the problem to me?’ or, ‘What exactly do you want to achieve?’ are good examples.

If the problem or task is a complex one, it can be useful to break it down into manageable chunks to promote clear thinking. Questions like, ‘What would you say are the important issues here?’ or, ‘How can this be broken down into individual steps?’ help the other person to think logically.

Divergent questions can then be used to multiply the range of possible options or solutions for consideration. ‘What other solutions might there be?’, ‘What haven’t you considered yet?’, ‘If that wasn’t possible, what else could you do?’

 are examples of divergent questions which help the person you are coaching consider a wider range of possibilities.

Convergent questions

To evaluate the generated options, you need to ask more convergent questions to encourage the other person to narrow down the best course of action. ‘How long will that take?’, ‘Do you have the necessary resources?’, for example.  And finally, you need to ensure you include a question about timelines and deadlines, ‘When will you do it by?’, or ‘When would you like to review progress?’. This keeps everything on track.

Everyone needs reminding of the benefits of coaching.  Writing this article has reminded me of how I sometimes overlook opportunities and how tempting it is to ‘instruct’ rather than ‘coach’.  Watching a short video is a convenient and useful way to boost your skills.

What is Coaching?’ is a short video and one of three ‘WATCH & GO’ programmes covering the important management skill of coaching. 

See the video here. Call 01638 723590 or email video@scottbradbury.co.uk to find out more.

About WATCH & GO® videos

WATCH & GO® videos show people how to perform better at work by illustrating practical phrases and key behaviours in just a few minutes. There are around 60 titles, each dealing with a different management topic or ‘tricky’ situation. Learners simply ‘watch’ and ‘go’ to manage everyday situations at work.

www.watchandgovideos.co.uk @WatchGoVideos video@scottbradbury.co.uk

Are you a good coach?

Video Views is the name of our WATCH & GO® video blog

See the country’s leading video producer in action and discover practical tips for engaging learners with video. Access our latest research and feedback from customers too.

Other Recent Posts

What to say when your boss doesn't notice your work

Posted: Dec. 1, 2017, 1:22 p.m.

Do you ever feel that all your hard work isn’t really appreciated? That your boss doesn’t even notice the effort you put into your job? This article takes a fun, festive view of how the elves must be feeling at Christmas time - and more seriously, offers us a video to show what to do if we feel our efforts are being ignored.


What to Say When You Experience Sexual Harassment at Work

Posted: Nov. 1, 2017, 6 a.m.

From Harvey Weinstein’s downfall to political storms at Westminster, sexual harassment is all over the social media and news channels right now, but when it comes to your own work environment, are your people clear about what’s acceptable, and what’s not? Every one of your employees should see this short video.


Does unconscious bias affect the way you treat older and younger workers?

Posted: Oct. 17, 2017, 10:48 a.m.

Making assumptions about what someone can’t - or can - do because of their age is not only wrong but detrimental to the working of the team.


A Question of Evidence video star does Strictly!

Posted: Sept. 12, 2017, 3:48 p.m.

Strictly’s line-up of celebrity dancers this autumn includes Chizzy Akudolu, who also stars in the Scott Bradbury video about behaviour-based interviewing skills. Scott Bradbury put Chizzy through her paces when she played the part of Safia in ‘A Question of Evidence’ - and she didn’t put a foot wrong! How will she fare on Saturday nights in the nation’s most popular dance contest?


Reducing absence

Posted: Sept. 1, 2017, 9:27 a.m.

‘Have all your staff arrived for work today?’ asks the email which pops into my in-box most Monday mornings. But an absence from work shouldn’t be an opportunity for companies touting temporary personnel. It should be your cue to swing into action with your absence management procedure.