The Best Managers are Coaches Too

One of the aims of management is to get better performance from your team and achieve your goals with less. Often the resources and equipment are generally out of your control as you have already negotiated the cheapest price for any commodities you use.

The only other variable you have influence over is your manpower. Working with them to increase performance and output is one of a the key levers a manager has. The most effective way of increasing performance is by coaching. Just as a sports coach works with individuals to achieve better results, as a manager, so can you.

The aims of coaching are:

– To help a person become aware of their current levels of performance.
– To help a person identify their own resources for self improvement.
– To help a person commit to a plan of action.
– To hold a person accountable for their commitment to that plan.

There are several models that have been developed to take you though the coaching sequence. The GROW model from John Whitmore is popular, but I prefer the STEPPPA model used by Angus McLeod.

In a quiet area where you will not be disturbed, sit with your staff member and run through the following sequence of actions.

Subject – Discuss a number of performance areas with your staff member and identify one that will be the subject of the session. Have the staff member identify the area that needs to be addressed as their involvement will increase their commitment. If you select the subject, it will be taken as an instruction and you will have less commitment, if any.

Target – Develop a target objective from this subject, again one that the staff member suggests. It needs to be realistic, achievable and one that the person is willing to commit to doing. Too lofty a goal will be too much to achieve, too little and the lack of challenge will be demotivating.

Emotional – There has to be a certain amount of emotional connection between the subject and the person. No emotional content and the person will not be inspired to do anything about the issue.

Perception – ‘Perception is truth’ in most people’s minds. If you perceive something to be true, then it is. The person has to perceive that the task is possible and that it will provide real benefit when achieved. They also need to convinced that any external resources will be made available. Without this, their perception will be that YOU are not committed to the outcome.

Plan – Have the staff member work out a plan of action, steps that move them from where they are now to where they have decided they want to go.

Pace – Having defined the plan, you both need to establish that the target has some realistic chance of being achieved and at a pace that is possible to maintain. Stretch targets are acceptable but remember that there is normally some personal growth and learning in this process, so agree a target and a pace that is not too much of a stretch.

Act – The process so far has taken your staff member to a point where they have defined their own target, plan of action, pace and agreed a level of personal commitment. There is no value in this process unless the person commits to action. Agree the actions steps and the when you will review progress. Agreeing to review progress increases the likelihood that the staff member will take at least some of the actions they have agreed as you will be checking progress.

Although this model provides guidance in how to coach your staff, the ability to coach is not as simple as following this pattern. It requires sensitivity, emotional acuity and flexibility in how you act and speak. It is important to let the staff member provide the questions, the answers and create their own plan of action. As a manager, you will be desperate to solve the problem but remember to resist that temptation.

I recommend Dr McLeod’s book in Performance Coaching for further reading. It is clear and well written and the STEPPPA model he uses is reinforced by several case studies and other supporting techniques such as cognitive therapy and NLP.

Dare to Aspire

1 thought on “The Best Managers are Coaches Too

  • Coaching is definitely one of the differentiators between being a good manager and a great leader. When managers realize that the key to their own success lies in the development of their people, they will prioritize coaching as one of the behaviors that drive organizational effectiveness. Great post!

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