The Importance of Being a good coach
Eighty to nighty percent of the consulting workforce have mentoring and coaching objectives that they need to carry throughout the year. Whether it’s as a Managing Partner, VP, Director, Project Manager, Team Lead, Colleague – sometimes as a consultant to your client. What does “coaching and mentoring” mean? What is Coaching exactly?
Before I begin, let’s be clear about one of the misconceptions’ of coaching: coaching has nothing to do with managing. Managing is about controlling, whereas Coaching is about freeing and enabling. The key component of coaching is around commitment. Putting in the time and effort is the key differentiator in taking that role. Coaching takes some time (when looking on the short-term ROI), but it will pay off. If well done, it’s a guaranteed successful result for all parties involved. Coaching colleagues & peers (on topics you master and also on project experiences, behaviors, consulting expectations…) enables the team to build the capability to take on double capacity as a team, and with increased Eliteness (and exponentially when the learner ends up coaching others in return). How you ask? There are 3 aspects that are key to develop in order to develop better coaching skills.
- Having a strong development bias: Continuously wondering how you can help the individuals getting better, moving their career forward and addressing their weaknesses. It needs to be all about the employee’s development.
- Develop the relationship: Extensive personal contact might be easier when talking eyeball to eyeball but not restricted to it. It’s all about listening & remembering who likes what, what’s important to one’s life, what phases are people going through, what gets them motivated & thrilled. Same as one would do while developing a relationship (friend, partner, kids…)
- Care: Caring about one’s development is half of the 2 ends. Show how much you care about one’s growth & development to get them onboard and get a better 2-way feedback.
Why is it important to take that time to coach? There seems to be a belief that when the bar is raised, more planning is required. To me this is another misconception between “Doing things right” vs. “Doing the right things,” when the pressure is on or when it gets heated. This short time spent on someone else has tremendous return on investment, and not only from a professional perspective, it develops the individual as a whole. Back to the earlier mention about Coaching principles being confused with Managing: An old reflex is to get structured when there’s pressure (plans, procedures, trying to conform, or even passively waiting to be given instructions) – which is wrong. Managing does not focus on building an efficient and committed workforce the same way coaching does. When there’s a proper coaching environment, “Doing the right things” would get a higher level of commitment; meaning it should be about setting a game plan and feeding information to the people, enabling them to prioritize and use the methodology they believe is right. This also gets the team members into understanding that their judgment is trusted, and that you’ll be there if they need help (not hiding behind procedures and plans). How do you make this all happen? One of the coaching models I adopted consists of three important components that need to be repeated consistently: Harvesting performance (results & commitment) by constantly seeding & feeding Clarity, Competence and Recognition…
- Clarity would be around ensuring they can picture it! (the challenge in front of them, the big picture, their own career development, their role in the scheme of things and so on);
- Competence is building around what they know best (developing their strength, training in weaker/other areas…);
- Recognition is around giving people the ability to influence and take ownership (not to confuse with reward, Recognition is around reinforcement – on the spot – that results in building confidence and self-esteem)
Bottom line – Consult & Ask, Teach/Mentor & Give ongoing Feedback, Confront constructively. Every leader should have a good approach to help peers and other employees in building stronger arguments about their own approach and ideas. And give permission to make mistakes! As a coach, your time should also be structured to enable it for your team…
- 70% of your time should be spent on “Instructional” approaches (what about that, have you considered such or such points…);
- 20% on the requests to hustle (pacing things down as time pressure is the key point that kills the coaching environment);
- 10% on skills development;
- 5% on praise & recognition, ensuring the good shots are publically recognized and the tone is always about positivism;
- 5% as contingency, to be available, have a drink & take the time to build relationships and listen.
Yes, you calculated correctly. You need to give it more than 100% to become a great coach. It’s all about building confidence in the individuals, understanding that there’s a learning curve, that it’s an ongoing process and that it takes time. This kind of commitment and care for their development will greatly benefit their career. Jonathan Gervais, /N SPRO Note: I’ve read quite a bit in the last couple of years on the matter and two books that I’d recommend would be: Leadership & the new science (The Moneyball of Leadership) and All-In.