We have recently contributed to the Cumbria Growth Hub business to business exhibition and networking events. In Carlisle, we shared some useful insights for managers and business leaders on coaching skills in management. We believe that adopting a coaching style can make a real difference to your business and it’s not just us that think so.

For example a US study by Bersin & Associates showed that organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent as compared to those who never coach. Other studies have shown a direct correlation between effectiveness of manager as a coach and level of employee engagement and employee commitment (Zenger and Folkman)

So, what is so different about a coaching approach?

Effective coaches will have a clear, unambiguous communication style, they encourage dialogue, listen deeply and focus on future outcomes rather than present problems. They work to understand what drives people and show interest in the coachee’s learning and development.

  • Listen → deeply
  • Dialogue → not monologue
  • Ask → not tell
  • Focus on moving forward → positively
  • Check understanding
  • Provide in the moment feedback
  • Build a development Alliance → being interested in others’ learning and drivers

Developing these skills and behaviours can be a really useful way to influence employees to change their behaviour or adopt a new method of working as it can make space for them to problem solve, become more engaged, take responsibility for their actions and become more accountable and develop the skills they need to perform at their best.

Effective questioning techniques are a staple tool of the coach.  Great questions are those that are open-ended, focused on useful outcomes, non-judgmental (avoid asking “why?”), and reflect back on what the speaker has said. A few useful examples are as follows:

  • What is the status on “x”?
  • How can I help you?
  • How can next week’s meeting be more positive?
  • Can you tell me about that error/situation?
  • How do you think that landed with the client?
  • Walk me through your thought process?
  • What other approaches might you take next time?
  • What can you do to influence xx?
  • What impact did it have on you?
  • I hear your frustration, what caused this?
  • I can see you are upset by that, what can you do to avoid this in the future?
  • What do we need to fix to do it differently?

Try to avoid the following which will have the effect of closing down the conversation and is more likely to build a more negative relationship:

  • Why did you do/say that?
  • Are you finished yet?
  • Do you have a problem?
  • Did you make that mistake?
  • Will this really solve the problem?
  • What made you think that was a good idea?
  • That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
  • Didn’t I go over this already?
  • Why didn’t you do “x”?
  • Why don’t we all do this more often?

Applying coaching type skills seems common sense so why don’t we all do it as standard? In the heat of the working day, other priorities, deadlines, time constraints and problems take over.  Also, taking a coaching approach can sometimes feel uncomfortable if it’s not your natural style.

But if you want to develop shared responsibility commitment and accountability, and a much stronger sense of engagement from staff, it is definitely worth the effort and can be a great win : win for all.

For more information about coaching or management techniques, then please get in touch.