Coaching Skills Part II

We continue in this article, to take a dive into coaching skills that we feel all managers should cultivate. 

Great coaches and managers tend to have a number of key skills, or tools they utilize, which are

  • Coaches generally have high emotional intelligence: they’re good at understanding and relating to people, and they’re interested in people. You have to genuinely want to help others develop to become a really good coach. It’s no good just paying lip service to the idea.
  • Coaches need to be able to show empathy and be good at building relationships, including building rapport.
  • Good coaches also have strong communication skills.

There will be times in any coaching relationship when you as the coach may feel you need to say something that the person being coached may not want to hear. Whether you say it at that moment—and how you say it—will depend on your relationship with the person you are coaching.
You may consider that if you are led by them, you will not be able to say it. However, if you consider yourself to be led by their needs and goals, this may open up an opportunity to have the conversation in a different way. Always ask before offering feedback! We have another article on how to share feedback if you are interested in learning some best practices.

As with any opportunity to give feedback, it is all about choosing the right moment, and the right words. This is harder to do as managers, because of the relationship you have with the individual, but the best elements to use as a manager are:

  • Practice Acknowledging and Validating the individual. This takes some work to do, so the more practice you have, the better you will be at it.
  • Become great at gathering information and then clarifying it for the person being coached. Build strong listening skills, including active listening.
  • Don’t jump in straight away with the answer but rather make sure that they’ve fully understood the issue by reflecting and clarifying.
  • Take the time to develop strong questioning skills. One should never offer opinions, but instead only ask questions to guide the person being coached through the issue. 
  • Give space and time for people to try things out. Don’t get over-excited or angry about mistakes, instead concentrate on how to recover the situation calmly and with the involvement of the person who made the mistake. Become skilled at providing feedback and using tact and diplomacy.
  • Coaches may also use various tools to clarify things, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, and have training and expertise in various tools and techniques, for example, Energy Leadership Index, Clifton Strengths and Thomas Kilman. Explore the possibility of using some of these with YOUR team, for better communication, focusing them on strengths and understanding their leadership.

A Model of Coaching

Having a structure to your coaching helps move the process along. Even though you are being led by the individual, there are some things you want to make sure you get through in a coaching session so that it is as effective as possible for that person. One useful model of coaching is the model (see diagram) below:

Before starting any coaching session, a good coach should consider each of the three questions around the outsider of the triangle in relation to the person being coached:

  • Who is the person that you are coaching today? Consider their goals, their mood and tailor the session to fit the person on the day. You think it will be one topic and you will end up in a whole other area; be flexible
  • What is your focus for the coaching session? What will your session cover? You cannot cover everything in every session, so what are you going to consider today? Go through your notes from previous sessions, is there anything that should be discussed? 
  • How are you going to address it? You may want them to complete a psychometric test, or they may have a problem you need to consider how best to respond to it. Give this some forethought and be prepared.
  • Unpinning it all is the most important question: Why? Why are they doing this? Why are you coaching this person? What do you and they hope to achieve as a result?

Summary

As mentioned in our first article, any manager can learn and use these coaching skills with their team. They take practice but are worthwhile investing the time to build this muscle. Reach out to us at Transformative Visions if you want to find out more! Stay tuned for more blog articles in this series about coaching as a manager!