Managers Can Be Effective Coaches
An interesting article by Jeff Matthews suggests that much of the training provided for manager-as-coaches has not dealt with the particular challenges that managers face in the corporate environment, in particular the power imbalance.
We agree that there are challenges which make it difficult for managers to take coaching skills back to the workplace. But it’s not impossible. Focusing on the ‘when’ of coaching is an important start. That is, involving people in identifying coachable ‘moments.’ We have identified 13 of these which are common to many organisations and there are more. We find that when coaching is used overtly in a range of situations, people are more likely to see the benefits of it. This then makes it more likely that managers will use coaching skills for performance-related situations. In addition, quality relationships do exist and even flourish within organisations which do not necessarily support a coaching framework. They flourish because the manager sets the tone for them to flourish. If managers have built up a substantial base of Relationship Equity, then coaching is naturally happening. They may not call it coaching of course.
So as manager-as-coach, we suggest that you, with your employees set aside regular time to do seven things. As a result, coaching will be happening without it feeling forced.
‘Being present’ is truly a present. Eckhart Tolle in his book ‘The Power of Now,’ defines presence as the moments between Perception and Thought. Presence is used interchangeably with ‘equanimity.’ Equanimity is a state of mental or emotional stability or composure arising from a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment. ‘Being present’ is increasingly a rare state of mind, unless we really work at it. Distractions abound. If you feel as though you’re not getting traction, practising presence may be just the ticket. Proponents such as Jon Kabat-Zinn and Eckhart Tolle write of the virtues of presence and its link to effectiveness, efficiency and life enjoyment. Presence is strongly linked to self-efficacy, because it is based on a sense that we really can make an impact. Presence is also linked to elegance and ease of execution, sometimes referred to as ‘the sweet spot.‘ Presence is strongly linked to leadership, as well as to enduring relationships. As a state of mind, presence becomes easier when we truly accept the situation we find ourselves in. Regular mindfulness practice helps with the every day presence. It doesn’t sound a lot, but just 10 minutes a day, twice a day, can make a massive positive difference to the quality of our day. Less struggle, more appreciation for what is going right, are some of the things we’ll notice.
Mindfulness seems to have been one of the favourite flavours of the past year. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a key proponent of mindfulness. Through his efforts and others, it is moving towards becoming a respected approach for business people to experience increased head space, in an ever-demanding world of 24/7 availability.
There’s mindfulness in walking, picture drawing, washing yourself, juggling …. and the list goes on. Mindfulness to me is doing whatever you’re doing with awareness and appreciation, however difficult and unpleasant doing that thing is. Through it, we endeavour to gain access directly to the experience itself, whether that is a breath, a thought, a perception, a judgment….and all without judgment, which then gives us true wisdom and perspective. But mindfulness is not a panacea. Like any tool and philosophy, its use needs to be thoughtfully applied. I recommend the very readable book, ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
‘Living’ the ROI of Training
Completing a comprehensive ROI analysis on a training programme involves many hours of assessment and review. In these lean times, a more practical and worthwhile approach is what we call ‘living’ an ROI. By this we mean putting in place the scaffolding to support and embed participants’ learning. Living the ROI of training means spotting, as well as creating, the opportunities to embed new behaviours across the critical three to six month period following the training event. In our BLOG we offer some practical tips for both before and after the training programme.
We believe that if you don’t go through the thinking of ‘how to apply this training’ before the training, you’re wasting time and money both as a participant and as an organisation.
‘Living’ an ROI (rather than doing a formal ROI exercise) is less expensive and good for both the organisation and the programme participant.
Training in coaching skills is common whilst its measurement is not. Measurement does not need to be onerous but it does need to be consistent. One of the places to start is with coachee readiness training. Coachees are encouraged to give descriptive feedback on the demonstration of manager coaching behaviours. They openly rate and discuss the fundamental coaching behaviours within the context of whether coachees observed them in their manager as coach. You’ll soon see from the coachee ratings, common biases such as the ‘halo effect’ or the ‘middling’ effect, raise their heads. Such a session helps too with encouraging coachees to become objective and helpful observers of their managers’ behaviour in general, as well as becoming proactive in stating what they need from their manager in their business relationship.
By measuring coaching skills the organisation is much more likely to get the impact-on-business they expect.