Ever since last week's webcast on HR.Com we've been talking regularly about the payoff to everyone involved when managers coach.
Coaching is really a style of management. Maybe it's even more helpful to view it as an over-arching approach to life. That doesn't mean it's totally inherent and can't be learned. It can, because it's a choice. At first it may feel uncomfortable but, like anything new (think "shoes"), there will come a time when you won't want to shop for another style or fit.
Here are ten tips to use a coaching style as part--or all-of your management toolkit. Some of you may have more to add and I hope you'll weigh in with a comment for readers. In the meantime, I hope you find these useful.
Develop and adhere to the belief that your employees probably have the answers to many situations within them and that your job is to enable their insights to emerge.
Give all of your conversations a clear purpose and clear outcome: "What's the issue and how will you know that you've made progress?
Forget about being right and having the best, or only, legitimate point of view. Even if you have more experience than the person you are coaching ( you probably will), that person has a set of experiences that can add to or refine the issue.
Quiet your mind and then listen without judgment and without the filter of your own beliefs, values, opinions and ideas. This is difficult; you'll also learn a lot and hear things you never heard before.
Give it your full attention; no distractions and no interruptions. It's a big help if you simply move away from the computer monitor on your desk.
Silence is really good. Listen with all your senses including--especially-- your intuition. Create space and silence for insights to emerge from the time to think.
Ask open-ended questions that expand the though process: what, how, who, when, where, what kind? Some will say "avoid 'why' ?" because it can be "accusatory or threatening. Yep, it can. It can also force a person to examine whether or not the issue has a real purpose.
Play back what is being said using their words, not yours.
Notice body language, tone of voice and what is not being said.
Ensure that there is a clear, timed action with accountability to move things ahead;offer further support if needed.