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Spotting Coachable Moments

One of the things that often comes up with leaders who are looking to adopt more of a coaching style is difficulty identifying situations that could lend themselves to coaching – what we call ‘coachable moments’.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions for situations that may be used for coaching / taking more of a coaching approach:

  • Ask your direct reports to bring a topic to their (hopefully) regular 1-1s that they would like to be coached on.  Set aside 15 minutes to work on this, ideally at or near the beginning of the 1-1 session so it doesn’t get ‘lost’.
  • Include a 15 minute ’peer coaching’ slot on your management team meeting agenda – to allow you to practise using the coaching model on a regular basis.  N.B. Again, make it an early item on the agenda to avoid it getting bumped if you start to run out of time.
  • Be more proactive with your manager in asking for feedback or coaching.  Give them an opportunity to practise and learn. Encourage your direct reports to do the same and seek feedback and coaching from you.
  • Talk about coaching in your team meetings.  Share your successes and any issues. This is likely to bring coaching to the front of your team members’ minds and open up new opportunities to use your coaching approach.
  • Take opportunities when you are with staff outside the office e.g. ‘trapped in the car’ moments to provide feedback or coaching.
  • Take a coaching approach with customers or in problem-solving situations.
  • Use a coaching approach in agreeing and clarifying objectives / development planning conversations.
  • Ask more questions when a potential coachee says they don’t have anything specific to work on e.g.’ What one thing could you do to get even more from your role?’; ‘What stops you being even better at your role and what could you do about that?’; ‘What frustrations do you have about your role?’; How could you use your strengths even more in your role?’ etc.
  • Alternatively, in the above situation, just ask them to talk about what’s going on for them at the moment.  Very often something will come up through this that could be used as the basis for a coaching session.
  • Look out for situations where member of your team says something like ‘How do I do … ?’ or ‘Can you help me with …’ or ‘I have a problem with…’ as these are perfect openings for a coaching conversation.
  • Using a coaching approach in working with colleagues on a project – where you could peer coach each other on how to deal with issues or move things forward.
  • In situations where people are having a bit of a winge, allow them to vent for a bit and then move into a ‘So what could you do about…?’ conversation.

Now, how about taking a moment to identify one or two ideas from the list above that resonate with you and commit to doing something with these.

The more you practise and seek feedback on your coaching, the better you will get.


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