- As a manager, I have found that coaching is one of my primary tools for helping employees be at their best. However, there is a lot of confusion about what employee coaching is and how it works. That's because there's actually different styles of coaching and different types of coaching conversations that you can use in a professional setting. So let's clear that up. Coaching has evolved from two important but very different fields, and this essentially creates two primary styles of coaching. The first is skill coaching, where the coach's expertise is in the skill and they teach that skill to another person.
This mode evolved from athletic coaching where the coach is someone who has extensive experience with the skill, say baseball or swimming, and then coaches another on how to improve that skill. It's a model based on teaching, observation, and offering advice tips and strategies. It's intentionally directive, and it's what we naturally default to as managers. The benefits of skill coaching is that it's often faster and easier to direct people and it offers the manager a lot of control about how work is completed.
The second style is clarity coaching. The coach's expertise is in the clarity process and they facilitate the other person in accessing their own answers. This mode evolved from the field of life coaching where the coach is trained in formal coaching skills. The coach facilitates the other person in becoming clearer about an issue and uses powerful questions to help them tap into their own knowledge and expertise. The coach then supports the person's progress with action plans and accountability. This style is intentionally non-directive, and the coach must be well-versed in the techniques of clarity coaching.
There are three primary benefits of clarity coaching: 1. It's a process that's proven to motivate and engage employees. 2. Behavior change is more likely to stick when they arrive at it on their own because they become more invested and accountable. 3. Over time, you build employee confidence because they're more likely to initiate solving their own problems in the future. Obviously, these two styles can be at odds with each other, yet both are very powerful tools for employee coaching. It becomes a question of which to use when.
Generally, you want to use skill coaching with new employees who need a lot of guidance or employees who are new to a complex task. But as your employees grow and develop, you'll want to shift more and more often to clarity coaching. Be sure to watch the wonderful course by Lisa Gates called "Coaching and Developing Your Employees." She focuses on teaching the clarity coaching model and also covers a range of tools you can use. Now, let's look at the four types of coaching conversations people can have in a professional setting. I've included a handout in the exercise files that shows you how you'd use skill and clarity coaching for each of these conversations.
The first is problem solving. This is when the employees have hit a roadblock, with a project or situation, and they need help thinking through the issue and possible solutions. Second is performance, this is used when the employees need to improve or develop a professional skill to do their current job well. Third is development. This is used with a high performing employee and is about preparing them for the next level of skill or responsibility. Finally, there is career planning. This used to help an employee identify their long-term career goals and plan for achieving them.
As a manager, you should be having all four types of conversations with your employees. In all of these conversations, skill coaching might take less time, but if you want to build the competence and motivation of your employees, you need to be using clarity coaching more and more of the time. Like any skill, clarity coaching will get easier if you keep practicing it. I'm a big fan of creating a coaching culture in an organization. Many studies have been done on the benefits, with return on investment paying off in increased productivity, employee engagement, and the effectiveness of leaders.
You'll find that employees are most happy with and loyal to managers who use clarity coaching because they feel valued, heard, and empowered. So develop your skills today and start reaping the many benefits that coaching your employees will bring.
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- Choosing a management style
- Hiring employees
- Coaching employees
- Managing team performance
- Establishing trust
- Motivating and engaging others
- Delegating responsibilities
- Avoiding micromanagement
- Managing remote employees
- Knowing HR regulations<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.