Do your team trust you to coach them?
Performance improves with Trust
As a leader and manager, it’s highly likely you are expected to coach your team. You may have been coached yourself, you might have had some training on how to coach others. So you coach your team. Great! Is it effective? How do you know? Coaching can take quite a lot of time. It will not be effective unless your team trust your approach. Successful team coaching is built on trust.
There are different types of coaching you might use as a manager. How you coach will depend on the training you have had – if any at all – and your own experience of being coached. When you have a positive experience of coaching, you are more likely to use a coaching approach yourself. However, what you think of your coaching and what your team thinks, may be quite different.
Not all coaching is the same. Performance coaching is very job focused. You may have had this type of coaching yourself, from your line manager. This style often starts with a specific problem, to help you address that issue quickly, so you can move forward. You may be encouraged to learn from the situation and apply that learning to similar challenges. Performance coaching may take 10 minutes or an hour, happen once a day or once every three months. It’s highly variable.
You may have experienced executive coaching, team coaching or life coaching, which are usually done with external coaches. These types of coaching are quite different to performance coaching. The relationship is very different too.
When is coaching a good approach?
The impact of the coaching you do with people in your team, is affected by the relationship you have with each individual. It is also quite dependant on your own personal management style.
Coaching is not a good approach if...
Coaching works well if...
If you think a coaching approach will work for you and your team, what else do you need to pay attention to? There are five “must haves” for coaching2:
Environment. Can you provide a private space to talk, without interruptions, to encourage an open conversation? Can you give that person time to think and respond?
Trust. Does this person trust you? Do they believe you are fair, honest and approachable? Have you built a relationship of trust over a period of time? Have you checked with that person if they trust you to treat them fairly?
Intent. What is your intent for this coaching? Do you want behaviour and performance to change? Do you want to fire this person? Do you want to tell them how badly they have done? Do you want them to identify ways to improve their work or performance? What is your intent?
Action. What actions will be taken as a result of this coaching? What are their actions and yours? Are you supporting them in their actions if needed? Do they have the ability to make the changes you have agreed?
Accountability. Who is accountable to whom? Will you hold yourself accountable as well as the individual? When and where will you check on progress? How will you support the person as they make the changes you have discussed?
Why coach at all?
Coaching takes time, energy and some skill. It can be difficult to find time or space to do it, it can be challenging for both the manager and the individual. You may not see results immediately. So why on earth should you coach your team members? Is it because HR said it is what managers need to do? Is it because you have been told that is part of the performance management approach? Or are there other reasons?
When you coach your team, you are telling them that they matter as individuals, that their performance matters to you and the team and that their contribution is important. That’s a powerful message to give anyone. As a manager and a leader, showing each person that their work is of value to you, is a strong way to develop engagement, motivation and loyalty and of course, develop performance.
What can coaching do?
Taking some time regularly, to coach your team members, can have a measurable, visible impact on performance across the whole team. Is it worth doing? Yes, if you do it well. Your approach, your style as a manager, affects the way your team receive your coaching and what they do with it. With the right style, your team will develop a positive mindset to your management style.
As a line manager you are responsible for delivering KPIs. You do this through your team. Your team is part of the work flow and their performance affects others in that work flow. Work needs to be on time – not too soon, not too late – to the right standards, in the right way, so that everything is delivered appropriately. The way your team works is critical to that work flow. You, the manager, are responsible for that.
Your coaching has a bottom line financial impact. If you do it well and your team benefit from it, then your coaching helps the team work more efficiently. People who receive good quality performance coaching, develop a range of skills and behaviours which make them valuable as team members. Coaching can give someone the skills and confidence to solve problems instead of escalating it to you. It can help individuals in the team understand each other more and work better, together. It gives you, the manager, the opportunity to praise good performance and help someone develop their skills, embed learning or see things differently.
One of the most positive benefits of high quality team coaching is that it helps the team to feel engaged and valued. That reduces staff turnover or churn, means a team can become mature in their development and approach and become highly effective at innovation and problem solving. When you build this type of team, the manager can step back and focus on the work that only the manager can do.
Checklist & Next Steps
If you, the manager, are going to use a coaching approach with individuals in your team, or with peers or your own manager, this is a quick checklist for you to use:
Build mutual trust – without this coaching will be ineffective.
Gain agreement on the performance issue that needs to be addressed.
Explore solutions and particularly encourage the person to suggest solutions, rather than you telling them.
Agree commitment and actions, plus any support needed to put those actions into effect.
Handle any excuses, agree time scales and set a date to check in on progress.
We regularly include coaching and mentoring skills in our development programmes for first line and middle managers. We know how great an impact good coaching can have on teams. If you would like to discuss how to take your organizational coaching approach to the next level, do get in touch for a discussion.
“How to ensure your coaching program pays off” Tim Toterhi and Ronald Recaro. Global Business and Organisational Excellence November/December 2016 Pages 25-40
“When a manager shouldn’t coach” Patricia Overland. Chief Learning Officer June 2017 Pages 50-53
“Ferguson’s Formula” Anita Elberse and Sir Alex Ferguson. Harvard Business Review October 2013 Pages 116-125
Multiple faces of coaching: Manager as coach, executive coaching, and formal mentoring” Baek-Kyoo Joo, Jerilyn Sushko and Gary McLean Organisation Development Journal Vol 30 No 1 Spring 2012 Pages 19-38