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Coaching: A Manager’s Best Tool

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Your job, as a manager, is to coordinate people and resources to get work done. Important parts of that are:

  • getting the most from your people
  • getting things done ever-more effectively and efficiently
  • developing your team’s capacity and capabilities
  • motivating people to work at their best

and so on…

One management skill has emerged as the solution to all of this. It does not stand alone, but over the last twenty years, we have learned its power to enhance individual and organisational performance. That skill is coaching.

Coaching is not new

The best managers, leaders, and teachers have been doing coaching for years – hundreds and thousands of years. What is new, is that the process and techniques have been studied, systematised and turned into a thousand books, articles and training courses. This means that coaching is no longer the preserve of the few who figure it out for themselves and have a natural talent: anyone can learn it, practice it and master the skills.

At its best, coaching is a valuable conversation that lets one person figure out what they need to do to get the results they need.

The Principles of Coaching

The core principle of coaching is respect for the person you are coaching. As a coach, you need to assume that the other person can find the solution to the challenge they are working on, whether it is a workplace problem, improving under-performance, or preparing themselves for a promotion.

To support this, the fundamental skills are

Questioning – asking good questions that increase the other person’s awareness of their situation and help them perceive things in a new way

Listening – so that you can ask questions founded on exactly what they say

Patience – giving time for the other person to work out solutions for themselves

Trust – recognising that they will make mistakes, but that is a valuable part of learning

As a manager, you need to balance opportunities to learn (sometimes by making mistakes) with the need to manage risk. But the thing that surprises most new coaches is how often the coaching process finds a good solution first time – and often a better solution than the coach themself would have thought of.

The Process of Coaching

There are a lot of methodologies for coaching – many of them proprietary. Most of them offer an acronym to help remember the areas for questioning and exploration. These are:

Coaching Process

One acronym is, in some ways, the obvious one: COACH

The COACH Coaching Process

Further Reading 

Coaching is one of the most discussed topics on the Pocketblog. You may also like the following Pocketblogs:

An Infinite Number of Coaching Acronyms
So you can see how different models follow the process above – and find the acronym you like best.

Keep it SIMPLE
A look at the Solution Focus approach to coaching.

Who is getting in your way?
The ideas of Timothy Gallwey who many regard as the originator of modern coaching as used in the business and management world.

Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 2: Turnaround
An example of how coaching fits into the pragmatic world of management.

The Awesome Power of Mentoring
Mentoring is often discussed in the same sentence as coaching. Find out what it is and how it can work for you, as a new manager.

Questions, Questions, Questions
…is about the art of – questions!

and

Listening
is about listening

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An Infinite Number of Coaching Acronyms

Coaching seems to be one of those disciplines that everyone likes to invent their own process.

I’m not sure if it’s because I like systems, or I like to collect, or I’m just a coaching ‘geek’, but I have been collecting coaching process acronyms ever since I did my first coaching training with Sir John Whitmore in the late 1990s.  So here’s a survey of some of my favourites:

One of the first, one of the simplest and one of the best: GROW

Developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and John Whitmore, GROW is fully described in ‘Coaching for Performance’ by Sir John Whitmore.

Goal
Reality
Objectives
Will – Way forward

CoachingSession

ACHIEVE

Dr Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge developed the ACHIEVE Model to make the details of the steps more explicit.  It is one of many, many variants on GROW.

Assess the current situation
Creative Brainstorming of alternatives
Honing goals
Initiating Options
Evaluating Options
Valid action plan design
Encouraging momentum

OSKAR – a Solution Focus Approach

In their book, ‘The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE’, Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow introduce the OSKAR Model, which introduces the importance of getting a perspective on the scale of the problem to GROW and its many variants:

Outcome
Scaling
Know How
Application
Review

Don’t confuse this with Worth Consulting’s OSCAR model

Outcome
Situation
Choices and Consequences
Actions
Review

Many, Many More

Here are some more I have inventoried – you may like to look some up on your favourite search engine: WHAM, OUTCOMES, PIDREF, STEPPA, FLOWS, CLEAR, ACHIEVE, ARROW, ACE.  I don’t have the space to spell them all out for you, but if you get really stuck, do feel free to ask in the comments.

Two more – called COACH

Coincidentally, our very own Pocketbooks have two more models to offer you, that are both called COACH.

The Coaching Pocketbook, in the Management Pocketbooks series offers:

9781903776193C – competency – assessing current level of performance
O – outcomes – setting outcomes for learning
A – action – agreeing tactics and initiate action
Ch – checking – giving feedback and making sense of what’s been learnt

.

And my own current favourite (if it isn’t a little disloyal to the Pocketblog) comes from the Teachers’ Pocketbook series, and The Coaching & Reflecting Pocketbook:

9781903776711 Clarify the Issue

Open up Resources

Agree the preferred future

Create the Journey

Head for success

.

Add your own …

If you have a favourite coaching model or process, please do add it, using the comments section below.

So here’s the deal

No one process is better than the others, so you pays your money (or you get the basics free, online) and you makes your choice.

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