August 27, 2018

Below is a lesson from Harvard Business Review on effective coaching, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Managers Think They’re Good at Coaching. They’re Not.

By Julia Milner and Trenton Milner

AUGUST 14, 2018

Are you successful at coaching your employees? In our years studying and working with companies on this topic, we’ve observed that when many executives say “yes,” they’re incorrectly answering the question. Why? For one, managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do — and this behavior is often reinforced by their peers. This is hardly an effective way to motivate people and help them grow, and it can result in wasted time, money, and energy.

According to Sir John Whitmore, a leading figure in executive coaching, the definition of coaching is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” When done right, coaching can also help with employee engagement; it is often more motivating to bring your expertise to a situation than to be told what to do.

Recently, my colleagues and I conducted a study that shows that most managers don’t understand what coaching really is — and that also sheds light on how to fix the problem. This research project is still in progress, but we wanted to offer a glimpse into our methodology and initial findings.

Continue reading here.


Key Learnings:

  • The definition of coaching is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.
  • When initially asked to coach, many managers instead demonstrated a form of consulting. Essentially, they simply provided the other person with advice or a solution.
  • Nine Leadership Coaching Skills:
    • listening
    • questioning
    • giving feedback
    • assisting with goal setting
    • showing empathy
    • letting the coachee arrive at their own solution
    • recognizing and pointing out strengths
    • providing structure
    • encouraging a solution-focused approach
  • Any approach to coaching should begin by clearly defining what it is and how it differs from other types of manager behavior. This shift in mindset lays a foundation for training and gives managers a clear set of expectations.
  • Let managers practice coaching in a safe environment before letting them work with their teams. Though you don’t have to invest in months worth of training, some form of training is necessary.
  • Make sure time for participants to reflect on their coaching abilities is included in training. If managers have more knowledge and training, they are able to provide a better self-assessment of their skills.
  • Support receiving feedback from coaching experts in order to improve. Coaching experts could give feedback on how well the coaching skills were applied and if any coaching opportunities have been missed.

Coaching is a skill that needs to be learned and honed over time. Not only does a lack of training leave managers unprepared to undertake coaching, but also it may effectively result in a policy of managers’ reinforcing poor coaching practices among themselves.


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