Coaching skills for Line Managers
While the business benefits of coaching in the workplace are well-established – better collaboration and teamworking, better employee retention, even better sales and bottom line – the stumbling block for many is the practical issue of making it happen. The destination is desirable but how do we get there?
Well, while dedicated individual coaching for senior executives can be a critical investment, your coaching culture is going to have go a little further than that if you want to see a transformation in your business.
In fact, it’s going to have to go ‘all the way’ and bring the coaching approach to the whole workforce. And that means, at the ‘frontline’ you need line managers with the skills to have coaching conversations with their teams.
How different is coaching to managing?
You’ll always need managers to allocate, track and check tasks, coordinate the work of the team, conduct performance appraisals, recruit and/or onboard new team members, and so on. These responsibilities are the foundation of the manager role. However, you also need your managers to take a less mechanistic systems approach (they are, after all, managing people) and that includes having ‘coaching’ in their skills portfolio.
From a coaching point of view, your managers will be:
- Listening more than telling
- Asking questions
- Listening and understanding
- Encouraging innovation and personal responsibility
- Giving feedback
- Discussing rather than giving instructions
All with the goal of influencing the development of individual team members to enhance their skills, performance, customer service, contributions to business goals and targets, etc.
So what do your managers need to do to be coaches too?
First of all, comes awareness. Your managers need to understand what coaching is, when it is best applied, and the impact of different coaching styles (including their own preferred style).
Then come the skills:
- building genuine rapport – knowing how to ask questions as a coach and not as a ‘boss’.
- asking the right questions – including not leading directly to conclusions but rather enabling the coachee to arrive at them via their own route (though providing directions en route is part of the coach role).
- active listening to the answers – listening in such a way that the conversation opens up and all relevant aspects of the coachee’s problem/goal can be analysed.
- giving feedback – positive or negative, focused on improvement.
- agreeing achievable (and relevant) goals.
A key tool and help for managers can be the use of an accepted and proven coaching model. GROW is a common one (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward), as is OSCAR (Outcome, Situation, Choices & Consequences, Action, Review). Such models offer guidance, simplicity and consistency – all essential when you’re implementing of a business-wide coaching culture.
If you’d like to explore further the idea of line manager coaching skills, or a coaching programme for your business, we offer a two-day Coaching Skills for Line Managers package (check out our website for details). Or just give us a call on 01582 463461, we’re happy to help.