I came across an article by the Harvard Business Review titled ‘Beware of the Busy Manager’, written by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal. Although the article was published in 2002, the ‘unproductive business’ and ‘active non-action’ activities carried out by busy executives mentioned in the article still happen today and perhaps even more so.
Managers face time pressures, they have KPIs to meet, they extinguish fire after fire, they sometimes must manage fast expanding span of control, they have to multi-task and they must lead their teams towards high-performance. In addition to these expectations, managers are increasingly expected to coach. An article from Forbes, ‘Why Coaching Matters: How Leaders Can Become Better Coaches and Build Stronger Teams’, highlights the case for coaching. The consensus is that coaching matters.
But, with so much to do, do managers really have the time to coach for performance? And when they do, are they coaching occasionally or coaching situationally?
Many managers I have coached shared that they started the coaching journey with their coachee brimming with good intentions and zest. However, time pressures, increasing workloads, misaligned coaching expectations between the manager and the coachee deteriorated the initial enthusiasm to impatience, micro-management and engagement gradually goes downhill.
Can managers be coaches? How can they be effective and intentional coaches? To address these questions, I’d to suggest the following steps that have helped managers to be intentional and effective coaches.
Steps to Effective and Intentional Coaching
1. Begin with a [Simple yet Critical] Question. The first step is to begin with a simple yet critical question, ‘Do you really believe that coaching matters?’.
In my experience, most leaders agree that coaching matters. Those who are less optimistic about the benefits of coaching are either organizations that have tried it but don’t see the results they want or organizations that are doing well without coaching programmes. The latter group will eventually experience the Law of the Lid in which John Maxwell argues that the greater the impact you want to achieve, the greater your influence and leadership ability need to be. Coaching, as the Forbes article would argue, enhances your leadership ability.
2. Establish what Coaching Is and Is Not. In the former group, there are many reasons why organizations fail to yield results from their coaching programmes. Amongst them, two common reasons I have observed are unrealistic expectations and the lack of good modelling.
Organizations want to see results in the shortest time possible and as a result they are disappointed when coaching programmes do not yield results. Often than not, organizations stumbled on the coaching programme because of unrealistic expectations – they expect coaching to solve almost every people management and performance issue. Multiple workloads and time pressures also contribute to the problem and coaching gets reduced to a non-critical mission status.
Another reason is the lack of good coach-modelling. To be an effective coach, you must experience it yourself. Coaching models and techniques are helpful. In my opinion, the strongest reference point we can have is the experience we had when someone took the time to coach us, whether directly or indirectly. Most of us can think of someone who fit this description at some point in our lives. It could be your teacher, parents, ex-boss, friend, classmate and etc.
So, coaching is not a one-pill for all ills. Effective coaching requires a coaching culture, and a coaching culture requires good coach-modelling.
3. Adopt a Practical and Powerful Framework. Managers are not professional coaches and they have multiple tasks that demand their attention daily. To help managers to be an effective coach, it is important to have a practical and powerful framework that is intuitive and easy to apply.
Situational Coaching® provides an applicable framework for managers to unlock and maximise the potential of their team members. The framework is intuitive and applicable because it predicates on the performance task readiness of the coachee. This fundamentally shift the focus from personality, working or communication styles of the coachee to the Performance Readiness® level that the coachee exhibits in performing a specific task, function or objective.
The immediate benefit of Situational Coaching® framework is that it reduces stress and increase efficiency by effectively aligning coaching behaviors to the coachees’ needs.
And since the focus is on task-specific Performance Readiness® level, both manager and coachee stay aligned and focused on what needs to be done whilst maximizing performance through coaching. Situational Coaching® is different strokes for the same folk (person). It goes against the conventional and commonly practiced different strokes for different folk paradigm.
When an organization recognized the important of coaching, has clarity on what coaching is and what it is not, and adopts a simple and practical framework such as Situational Coaching®, tangible results will follow. Coaching situationally helps organizations avoid the pitfall of coaching occasionally.