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. 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.
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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 being 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, simply click the link below.

Written by Bob Bradley, founder of MD2MD.