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

A time for innovative thinking

Posted: Oct. 11, 2018, 3:52 p.m.

Innovation and creative thinking. People development programmes often include modules on these topics. But even if your organisation proactively encourages people to generate new ideas, what sort of hearing do those ideas get? And how can we, as innovative thinkers, make sure our proposals are properly considered?


Getting the best from people who know more than you

Posted: Aug. 10, 2018, 4:58 p.m.

Experts are people with a special, superior skill or knowledge in a particular field. We need them. In all areas of life, and business, experts have a vital role to play. But when it comes to managing someone in your team who knows more than you do, it can be daunting. Whether he or she is a subject matter expert, or simply has much more relevant experience or know-how, managing ‘an expert’ can feel awkward. This short article explores how to get the best from people with greater knowledge or expertise.


Change for good

Posted: July 11, 2018, 12:46 p.m.

‘We’re going through a lot of change at the moment’, is a common refrain. We hear it all the time. The pace of change might be faster nowadays, but organisational change has always been with us. In this short article we explore the problem of change paralysis, the energising potential of change and the importance of understanding how change is perceived.


You won't say anything, will you?

Posted: April 2, 2018, 9:34 a.m.

Ever been asked to cover for a cheating colleague or dubious workplace activity? If the television cameras hadn’t picked up the ball tampering in Steve Smith’s Australian cricket team last month maybe we wouldn’t know about it. But others in the team apparently did. Imagine being in a close-knit team, working together towards an agreed goal, and then being asked by one of your teammates to cheat for them, for the ‘good’ of the team. How would you react?


Do people interrupt you when you're in the middle of something?

Posted: Feb. 1, 2018, 9:12 a.m.

We all need to be productive. We need to get things done efficiently. And often that means wanting to be left alone to focus on the task in hand. The last thing you need is repeated interruptions. The irrepressible colleague who wants to chat to you presents a tricky problem: how to stop the interruptions without causing offence?