Want to be a coaching manager?  Here’s the magic ingredient…

By Karen Amos

I’m feel fortunate that there are lots of managers who are tuning into in how coaching can help them and their teams.

It’s probably no surprise that I firmly believe coaching can completely transform the behaviour, mindset and performance of teams in the workplace.  In fact, I more than believe it, I’ve seen the results for myself.

The thing is in our ever-busy working lives, time is at a premium, so many people are looking for a magic ingredient that will turn them into a coach.  The magic ingredient that means they can start to reap the benefits.

As a result, I thought I’d bring in a quick reality check around expectations and what you CAN do, to be a great coaching manager.

Let’s start off with a few of the ‘myths’ I encounter…

Myth 1 – Reading a coaching book will turn me into a great coach

Myth 2 – Getting a coaching qualification will turn me into a great coach

Myth 3 – Going on a coaching course will turn me into a great coach

Actually, all of the above will help.   The bad news however, is that reading a book, getting a qualification, or going on a course will never turn you into an amazing coaching manager overnight.

In order to coach, you need to learn the skills and techniques to ask great coaching questions, along with other tools.  But here’s the challenge…

If you don’t actually DO anything differently – if you never practice these techniques and skills, nothing will change.

I had an acquaintance who bought every self-help book known to human-kind – or so it seemed!  The problem is none of it changed her life in the slightest.  Does this mean the books didn’t work?  Not at all.  The fact is, not only did she rarely get past the first chapter, she never put any of her learning into practice – and if she did, not consistently.

So unfortunately you won’t be able to become a better coach through a process of osmosis, where learning will radiate off your bookshelf, or training course and magically transform you into the coach you’d like to be.

If these don’t work – what does?

This means getting out of your comfort zone.  Walking the walk as a manager.  Trying at least one approach, or question very consciously even once a day.

If you’re about to think, ‘Yeah, but it’s not that simple…’, then I would ask you to look inwards.  I’m guessing you want to start coaching to help people change, to improve their performance.  If that’s the case then we need to walk the walk as managers and leaders.  Ask yourself, ‘should I be expecting people to change, do things differently and get out of their comfort zone, if I’m not prepared to do so myself?’

Another thing to consider is to build coaching conversations into your daily interactions.  Any conversation with another person has the potential to be a coaching conversation.  It involves listening and understanding the other person’s point of view, with a healthy dose of curiosity to explore what’s really going on and help them find their own solution to any problems.

Remember that coaching isn’t about feeling clever whilst you fire lots of ‘challenging’ questions at someone.  At it’s heart, it’s about great communication – taking the time to listen, understand and helping the other person work out a solution.

So go on, give it a go!

Coaching Question:

What one step could you put in place today to help you improve your coaching and communication skills?

If you’d like to know more about how our fully-interactive coaching skills courses can help you implement a coaching approach in your workplace, check out our coaching skills for managers mini-programmes.  There’s NO HOMEWORK and NO ROLEPLAY!  Just lots of practical tools, approaches, discussion and practice, so you can put your learning into place straight away.

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Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.