Busting coaching myths and when to use coaching for enhanced performance
Do you use coaching as part of your leadership practice? If not, you may wish to consider learning how to empower people through coaching. Coaching is a people management tool that supports people in giving their very best regardless of their current performance level. Sometimes all a team needs to shine is a bit of support that is focussed on helping them find solutions themselves, rather than the manager providing direction or advice.
Myth1: “It takes too long; it take less time if I just tell them the answer or what to do.”
You may worry that coaching is too time consuming, but it takes no more time overall than many other management practices. Crucially coaching builds capacity in your team to resolve their own issues or come to you with solutions, rather than questions – saving you time in the medium to long run.
Myth 2: “I am not a professional coach, surely an external person needs to do this work.”
While there is real value in independent executive coaching, anyone can add a coaching approach to their management toolkit.
Doing so is hugely beneficial and easier than you might think. David Rock defines coaching as ‘the art and science of facilitating positive change’.
That is mostly what the management role is – meeting people where they are, then helping them build on their skills, strengths and experiences, addressing shortcomings, finding solutions and identifying strategies to meet agreed targets.
Myth3: “I have the right answers, I should always share them.”
You should if there is only one right answer. But allowing your colleagues to maintain ownership, think issues through and work out their own solutions helps to get the best from your people. Sir John Whitmore argues that coaching encourages acceptance of responsibility, which results in a commitment, in turn optimising employees’ performance.
A coaching approach helps establish boundaries around their responsibility for delivering outcomes and resolving issues. Your role is to work with people not for them – helping them work towards solutions rather than micro-managing. It helps when people own their goals.
Coaching is a high value and relatively low cost leadership activity. It has great return on investment. A significant U.S. study that looked into application after training found that the application of learning from a course was around 22%. The rest of the people simply didn’t put anything into practice. But when training was combined with coaching or some sort of a follow-up, it really helped people put their learning into practise. Suddenly, application went up to 90%. That is a much better return on your investment.
Coaching can also be delivered just in time; you can talk about a project just as it arises. Coaching is targeted, it can be specific to your organisation and the type of work or individual that you are talking to. It can build on their experience, knowledge, and skills while addressing their specific challenges.
When to coach?
PWC’s Global Coaching Study for the International Coach Federation found that coaching creates improvements in areas such as self-confidence, relationships, communication skills, work-life balance, work performance, business management and team effectiveness.
There are few situations when you would not want these benefits, but it is crucial to have as many of these elements as you can possibly lay your hands on when there are high stakes pieces of work, big projects, or issues where you’re carrying an awful lot of responsibility.
By adding a coaching approach to your practice you can look forward to reaping its many personal and organisational benefits.
Coaching is a core leadership skill, which time and again has been shown to increase managerial and organisational effectiveness. Join the webinar and learn the key skills of Coaching for Success: Click Here For Instant Access.
Eszter Molnar Mills is a strength-based leadership and organisation development specialist and founder of Formium Development. She helps organisations and individuals reach enhanced performance by reflecting on what works, and developing skills and strategies for improvement.