5 tips for having great coaching conversations

A very good article on the value of coaching appears in the legendary Harvard Business Review.  Titled “You Can’t Be a Great Manager If You’re Not a Good Coach”, it builds upon research at Google which concluded that coaching is the single most important managerial competency that separates highly effective managers from average ones.

The article argues that you can be significantly more effective as a manager — and enjoy your job more — by engaging in regular coaching conversations with your team members. And it suggests 5 key tips for leaders and managers aspiring to get the best performance out of their team.

  1. Listen deeply. Don’t let your brain be distracted. Focus entirely on the person you are coaching.
  2. Ask, don’t tell. As Gareth Chick suggests, we have to be aware of and manage the Beast (our worst management habit under pressure), pause and ask great questions.
  3. Create and sustain a developmental alliance. Give your employee the time and resources to follow through on the plan that emerges and support them in doing so.  Follow-up is critical to build trust and to make your coaching more effective. It’s a virtuous circle.  More follow through means more effectiveness which leads to more results which generates more trust and more engagement.
  4. Focus on moving forward positively. Often the person you’re coaching will get caught up in detailing their frustrations. Take a moment to acknowledge them – it’s important for them to be shared, but then move the thinking on to how to move past them.
  5. Build accountability. Many people see coaching as a ‘touchy-feely’ distraction from beign a proper leader. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Good coaching results in an individual accountable for delivering plans that they themselves have put forward.

As usual, the above is just my summary in my words.  If you wish to read the full Harvard Business Review piece, click here.

Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.

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