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As we've discussed, delegation is an incredible opportunity to help your employees grow and develop. But that growth can only occur if they get to engage in their own learning process. Coaching is a skill that you can use to maximize their learning. Coaching is different from managing. Instead of directing, you help the person tap into their own knowledge and wisdom. By asking the right questions, you help the employee reflect on their experiences, and this leads to important ah-ha moments. When you coach, an in-person meeting is usually best so that you can have a discussion.
During this meeting, ask key questions that help the delegate access their own learning. It's best to start by having the employee reflect on their successes. This is intentional. Thinking of success actually shifts the brain to a higher functioning state, allowing critical and creative thinking skills to be at their prime. This is part of a process known as appreciative inquiry. You can follow along with the sample coaching script in your support phase handout. These are actually my go-to questions when I support my employees.
Tell me how things are going so far, what's working well? What aspects of this project are you happy about or proud of? What are the challenges you've identified? Let the delegate list all the issues before moving on to the next question. You may need to prompt with "What else?" until the delegate feels that the list is complete. Now the next question I would ask would be something like, let's take each issue one at a time. What are some steps you can take to bring things back on track? Again, do this with each item until the delegate feels complete.
If you feel the delegate has a good grasp of the situation and appropriate ideas for solutions, move on to helping them create an action plan of what steps they'll take and when. End the meeting with an agreement about any new support they need, changes to the progress reports, or delegation brief. However, if you feel the delegate is missing some key understandings or potential solutions, provide some more coaching. Rather than just telling them what you see, pose questions that will elicit the answer. This is coaching at its best. The employee will learn far more if they can reach their own ah-ha moment.
Try not to be frustrated. If you have to pose a question two to three ways, your skill at coaching will improve as you do this. Some possible questions to ask are: If you were to step back and look at the bigger picture of how this project or task fits into the work we do here, what new insights might you see? Are there any other less obvious issues that might be affecting this situation, like department politics, communication, trust, or budget? You would customize this list based on your organization. Based on what you've witnessed of my management in the past, how do you imagine I would handle this situation? What steps would I take and why? Again, by engaging in this form of coaching, you are actually building the delegate's competency for not only this task, but those in the future as well.
If the delegate requests your advice or assistance, you can certainly provide it, but wait until it is requested. There's lots of ways to coach, but focus on helping the delegate use their own critical thinking and creative skills, rather than sharing yours. When I do this with my delegates, I'm often surprised by how many things I learn from them. Their fresh perspective is always very valuable. Through coaching, you'll also gain new insight about your staff's knowledge of the company and problem-solving skills. This will allow you to identify topics for future training sessions.
In summary, it's really important to honor the level of autonomy that was arranged in the handover phase. Not doing so leads to the dreaded concept called micromanaging. If you check in, hover, or interfere too much, you won't be showing trust in your employee. In the next video, we'll cover common causes of micromanagement and how to avoid them.
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