Would you believe me if I told you that great coaching can take place in under five minutes? This is not to diminish the powerful effect that mentoring and coaching programs have on maximizing high potential development, nor is it to assume that individuals with challenging and complex development needs don’t require a more long-term coaching commitment. But this article is not about that. This article is about how you as a manager can incorporate more coaching into your daily work; into the work you are already doing to support the development of your people and your teams. And to tell you the truth, it does not take much time. What it does take, are some simple communication tools you can use on a daily basis to make you a more effective manager and coach.
In our last article, we discussed why this all matters to you; why you as a people manager should care about coaching. Over the last few years, the Harvard Business Review has published some great content on this topic to highlight the growing need for managers to possess coaching ability (“You Can’t be a Great Manager if You’re Not a Good Coach” and “4 Reasons Managers Should Spend More Time on Coaching”). Take a look below at some of our top communication tips, specifically designed for busy managers who want, but don’t always have a lot of time, to coach their people.
Ask questions that dig deep
The questions you ask can have the power to evoke discovery, insight, commitment, and action in your people if you ask them in a way that promotes reflection. Take your conversations to the next level by challenging others’ assumptions, creating new opportunities for learning, and making others think more deeply or moving them past a set way of thinking. These may sound like lofty conversation goals, but they can all be easily obtained by asking great questions.
Great questions are open-ended, meaning they cannot be answered with a yes or no response. They are simple and direct, meaning they are concise and asked one at a time. They are forward-focused, meaning they are focused on the future rather than on the past (i.e., “What will you do differently next time?” versus “What should you have done differently?”). Great questions fall into four main categories when working with an individual to help them attain their goals.
Ask big-picture questions to understand the issue:
Dig deeper, prompt reflection, and explore options:
Focus on action planning:
Master the art of listening:
Do you slightly cringe when you hear the term “active listening?” We’ve all been told that this is the key to having successful conversations, but the term has become so overused that it’s almost become an anti-buzzword. That being said, the sentiment behind active listening is still one of the most important coaching concepts, and from my experience, if you can listen really well, people almost coach themselves. Here are some of our top tips on how to become a better listener.
Why does listening matter so much? Again, it is about people teaching themselves, rather than learning from you. The less talking you do, the more your people will talk through their own problems and come to solutions themselves.
Including even just one of these communication tips into your everyday work will set you on the path to helping your people help themselves.