Coaching – the essential management skill

Think about any job you’ve ever had. It’s a fair assumption that it came with a learning curve. The question is, where did you climb that curve? Did you get the information and new skills you needed from a training course, a seminar, a manual…? All valuable sources of information and useful opportunities to practice what you need to acquire but… I’d be willing to be bet that most of that getting ‘your head around a new role’ process took place on the job, with help and guidance from colleagues and managers. In other words, you were coached.

Arguably, for line managers looking to support their teams to do the best job they can, coaching is possibly the essential skill. And now, with the ongoing, developing impact of COVID-19, it’s more so than ever as your teams are dispersed, working remotely, isolated, and much of the contact an employee has with their organisation is via one-to-one communication exchanges.

Profile of a coaching line manager

A line manager who takes a coaching approach to their reports,

  • Agrees goals and objectives rather than imposing them
  • Asks questions
  • Listens more than they tell
  • Takes time to understand
  • Encourages innovation and personal responsibility
  • Uses feedback to improve performance
  • Discusses goals and methods rather than giving instructions
  • Sees the task of improving a team member’s skills or knowledge as a collaboration

The key skills a line managers uses to coach include:

  • Open and targeted questioning – using questions to explore and understand the coachee’s situation, strengths, development needs, etc. And to prompt greater understanding on the part of the coachee.
  • Active listening – using techniques such as paraphrasing and reflecting to broaden and deepen conversations.
  • Rapport building – knowing how to step out of ‘boss mode’ and create a genuinely collaborative partnership.
  • Feedback – the ability to give positives and constructively-phrased negatives in such a way that the coachee can accept and use them to improve performance.

A model approach

What makes the whole coaching role easier to take on is using a model to give the process some clear structure. One such is the OSCAR acronym, standing for Outcome, Situation, Choices & Consequences, Action, Review. Another popular and easy to use option is GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward) first published by John Whitmore in his 1992 book “Coaching Performance”.

Such models give the manager and coachee a basic route map, simple and consistent to use, from goal-setting together through identifying specific activities that will develop the desired skills and knowledge (achieve the goal).

The coaching approach is not only an effective management option for developing team members, in an increasingly virtual world of work, it’s likely to become essential, encouraging as it does individual ownership and greater responsibility.


If you’re interested in improving your coaching as a manager, or in introducing more widespread coaching in your team or organisation give us a call on 01582 463461, we’re happy to help.

Categories: Coaching

Recomended Posts