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Now that you're familiar with the difference between directing and coaching, let's see how those two approaches look. Natalie is a sales manager and is working with her direct report Michael. The company sells a green product that helps capture and recycle lost heat from buildings. Michael has done well in the past and recently received delegations of new territories, college campuses. Natalie has given Michael a high level of autonomy. He takes action and only communicates if the action is not successful. In other words, he can come to Natalie if he's having trouble making the sale.
Natalie has already given Michael her contacts, sales notes, and other promised materials, and he's been supported with ample sales training. So Natalie's role is really to provide guidance if Michael's having challenges, which he currently is. He's having trouble making the sale. In order to demonstrate the difference between directing and coaching, let's first see what it looks like when Natalie directs Michael. (Michael: I'm having trouble with the campus administrators. The biggest concern is that they're worried that our installation will damage their roof, causing costly leaks.) (Natalie: Did you already tell them about our workmanship guarantee?) (Michael: Yes, but that didn't seem to convince them.) (Natalie: Have you given them the data from our customer survey?) (Michael: No, I wasn't sure how that would be more persuasive than our guarantee.) (Natalie: Well, contact them again, tell them about how high our customer satisfaction is, share the survey results, be sure to email it before you call.
Then tell them about our insurance coverage. That will do the trick.) (Michael: Okay.) So, as you can see, Natalie has just directed Michael. She gave him her opinions and ideas for what to do differently. While Michael may have left with clear directives, neither he nor Natalie gained new information from his past experiences. As a coach Natalie would be focused on bringing out Michael's own insights. Now let's look at an example of coaching. (Michael: I'm having trouble with the campus administrators.
The biggest concern is that they're worried that our installation will damage their roof, causing costly leaks.) (Natalie: Well, what successes can you think of? Tell me about a sale that closed really easily?) (Michael: Well, Samoca was very easy. I told them about the product, and they were very interested. They mentioned that their campus had green initiative goals and that this would help meet them.) (Natalie: That's good, any other successes?) (Michael: Yes, Roux Academy bought five units. They said they were re-roofing five buildings and could add our product as part of that project.
That actually created some installation savings.) (Natalie: So it looks like green initiatives and installation savings have figured high into your successful sales. What does that mean to you? Or how do you think that can help you?) (Michael: Well, it seems like other campuses might have green initiative goals, so maybe I ask that first as a possible lead-in, and I could also mention that they could build this into regular maintenance schedules that they have for their buildings over time, which could result in savings.) (Natalie: These are really great ideas. Now let's go back to their concern with leaks.
What if you were in their shoes, and this was your house, how would you feel about that?) (Michael: I would be concerned about leaks. Budgets are tight on campuses, and anything that I'm going to add to it, I don't want it to create more problems. So I could acknowledge that as a problem and then segue into our guarantee and why we assume all responsibility and then I could back that up with our customer survey as a way to prove our great track record.) What do you notice about these different approaches? Which one took the most time? Which approach gave Michael the most strategies to use for solving future problems? In the coaching example, Natalie coached Michael to bring out all the things he had learned so far, and together that information yielded several strategies and approaches.
In addition, Michael probably has more confidence in his abilities to reflect on the problem and create solutions. In contrast, when a manager directs an employee, they inadvertently create dependence rather than independence. When Michael gets stuck in the future, his only option is to go back to Natalie for more answers, which he may do again and again. From Natalie's perspective, in which example is Michael taking work off her plate? Yes, it's the coaching example, because the delegate is learning to solve his own problems, which he can recreate in the future for himself. This scenario illustrates the value of coaching.
You invest time and the interaction, but it yields a lot of results, both in solutions and skill building. Consider how you might use coaching to support your delegates in their success.
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