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Making Time to Coach

Whenever we run our Coaching Culture programmes we ask the leader-coaches what might get in the way of them applying their coaching skills with their team members.

The most common issue that comes up for them is a lack of time to do the coaching.

While they conceptually ‘get’ the benefits of coaching they have difficulty translating these into reality as a consequence of not having (making) time in their schedules to spend time with their people and do the coaching.  There is always an urgent piece of work that needs their attention, or they think that ‘it will be quicker on this occasion to deal with it myself’ or they cancel a scheduled coaching session because another meeting request comes in, etc.  As a result the coaching doesn’t happen and there is a real danger that they lose the new skills they have learned through the programme as a result of lack of application.

Given this I thought it might be helpful to relay some of the feedback we have received from leaders who have managed to find a way to adopt more of a coaching style.  The benefits can be many and wide-ranging and, in their view, more than justify the time it takes to apply these with their people.  I’m hoping that a reminder may help to persuade some of you to dust off those old coaching notes and books and take time to apply what you have learned in the past.  If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Some of the main benefits that leaders report when they adopt more of a coaching approach are:

  • Less interruptions from their people who become more self-sufficient and confident in their ability to deal with issues.  Through a coaching approach, people are encouraged to think for themselves and explore different options and possible solutions.  As a result they are more likely to either identify solutions and apply them without needing approval from the leader, or to identify a number of options and a recommended way forward.  As a result, the leader actually gains time to focus on important areas through people taking more initiative and feeling more empowered and capable, and therefore less likely to constantly be looking for answers and direction.
  • Better solutions are often generated by those people who are closer to the issue and understand more of the detail than the leader.  By encouraging people to come up with solutions and to think for themselves about the consequences of these, you are more likely to arrive at an outcome that is fit for purpose.
  • Leaders learn more about the capability of their people through encouraging them to think for themselves and as a result, succession planning and identification of development needs is made easier.
  • By adopting a coaching style, leaders build a capability to self-coach and as a result to be able to deal more effectively with the issues they face day to day through thinking through the issues as if they were being coached.  As a result more and better solutions can be generated.
  • Leaders also increase their level of self-awareness through tuning in to the thinking and feelings of their people in coaching sessions.  Through developing better questioning and listening skills they are also better able to support and challenge their people.  This helps to build improved relationships and trust.  People are then more likely to ‘go the extra mile’ when things get tough.

These are just some of the benefits reported by leaders who make time for coaching.  Think back to those people you have most valued in your life and career.  Chances are they were people who encouraged you to think for yourself and supported you in trying new things and valued your input.  I suspect they were not people who always told you the answer.  Given this, why would you think that your people will be any different?

Time you spend in coaching your people will be more than repaid through increased confidence, capability and less interruptions.  I encourage you to find some time this week to start the process.  You know it makes sense!


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