Spotting coaching opportunities at work
You may be thinking that you can only coach at certain times in the workplace, perhaps when there is a problem, or when you delegate a task, or when you work with a new member of staff. Well, that’s not true!
Coaching uses the workplace to provide on-the-job development. I’m not alone in extolling the value of business coaching either. Google CEO Eric Schmidt knows it too. And he’s not the only one. I found a great article on Forbes.com from 2013 about a study in the USA which highlighted that whilst two-thirds of chief executives don’t get any coaching or leadership advice from outside their companies, nearly 100% of those bosses say they wish that they did! Regardless of your seniority, it appears even senior staff appreciate the value of great coaching.
As such, literally EVERY task that needs to be done represents a potential coaching opportunity, a chance to develop someone, provide a challenge to a high performer, or to simply broaden the skill base of your team.
Here are five ways to spot on-the-job coaching opportunities:
Turn on your radar
You have a great opportunity to provide coaching whenever…
1. …one of your employees says, “I don’t know how to do that.”
2. …you are asked for your opinion or when a decision is required: “What should I do?”
3. …you notice when a task could be actioned faster, in a better way, or more cost effectively
4. …mistakes are being made
5. …people are looking for more challenges in their role
A good coach has their ‘radar’ constantly tuned in to these challenges, and is always on the lookout for appropriate coaching opportunities.
Whenever a particular task arises (other than one which you might otherwise complete yourself), as a manger you have two basic options in deciding who will complete the work:
• The experienced person – the person whom you know will do it well and with least difficulty.
• The inexperienced person – the person who needs your coaching support and who may initially NOT do it terribly well, but who would certainly learn a great deal from the opportunity.
A proactive manager/coach will take a balanced view of the pros and cons associated with these options, and choose to take on the coaching opportunity whenever practical. A reactive manager/coach will rarely, if ever, take this route, preferring the easier, short-term gain. Coaching will be put off until tomorrow, which, of course, never comes!
Day to day tasks
If you choose to see them this way, virtually all the day-to-day tasks, routines and activities entrusted to your staff are potential coaching opportunities. As such, they can potentially be used to help extend their skill base and potential. A good coach thinks in terms of results that can be achieved NOT just tasks that need to be done.
If you’re feeling swamped by your workload, then you’ve already unknowingly identified an opportunity to start coaching NOW! Effective coaching will put you in a position to be able to delegate more, as you transfer more responsibility from your own shoulders onto those of your team members. Delegating effectively is one of the toughest challenges for many managers. If something needs to be completed, you may think it will be quicker to just do it yourself. However, sharing your expertise by coaching others will help you to free up more of your own time to motivate your employees. Remember that nothing in life is free. First, you must invest some time if you want to save time. You need to give before you get!
Change in responsibilities or duties
Great coaching opportunities often arise following, or prior to, a promotion or changes in an employee’s responsibilities and duties. Many people are promoted because of their competence and their good performance in their current job role. However, a promotion to a new role will often require people to develop a whole new skill set in order that they might succeed in their new position. For example, a great salesperson doesn’t necessarily make a great sales manager!
Given this, your coaching will help people in these and similar positions, to ‘hit the ground running’ and so become more confident and capable to take on the challenges presented to them by their new job role.
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