Why Your Managers Need 10 Minute Coaching to Achieve Real Results

Please download your complimentary report by clicking here: 5 Strategies to get every Manager Coaching

Organisations have realised that coaching can increase the performance and engagement of individuals and teams... and hence the bottom line.

Managers these days are often overwhelmed: many struggle to stay on top of their everyday workload, consumed by the ‘busywork’ and the weight of their responsibilities. Last year a McKinsey survey showed that 13% of front line managers are not finding time to coach at all, and for most of them, the total time they have to coach is around 20 minutes per day. This results in teams that aren’t clear on what they’re focusing on and under-achieve.

Why managers struggle to coach

Line managers, many of whom have faced constant change and an increased work load through the recession, often find coaching an additional burden due to:

  1. Lack of coaching skills (no shortage of theory)
    • While organisations might send managers out on coach training courses in the hope they will return and begin working some coaching magic, many managers find it difficult to translate the skills and models learned in the classroom to the day-to-day working environment.
  2. Too busy to coach (i.e. too busy to focus on what matters)
    • Managers — and these days nearly everyone is a manager — see themselves as just too busy to coach. This kind of reaction is often symptomatic of a deeper malaise where managers and their teams are so busy trying to get through the work, that coming up for air (and perspective) just doesn’t seem possible most of the time.
  3. The debilitating fear... of being a ‘bad’ coach
    • When it comes to it, the biggest ‘internal’ obstacle that comes up for many managers is the debilitating fear they feel about not being able to do coaching ‘properly’. A belief that they have to master subtle skills of human dynamics, have a PhD in psychology and (ideally) have also reached a state of Zen enlightenment means that for many managers, it’s easier and safer to continue doing what they’ve always done… which isn’t coaching.

How do these perceptions come about? The way coaching is introduced in organisations is frequently the main culprit.

The danger of introducing ‘a coaching culture’

"We’re going to create a coaching culture" is a commonly proclaimed goal, often by some leader filled with visions of coaching reinventing life and work in that organisation.

But coaching alone is not always able to miraculously drive change, improve performance, increase happiness, make money and lift the level of engagement in an organisation. Coaching is a powerful tactic that is best used to support and achieve a specific business objective.

The focus on a ’coaching culture’ runs the danger of confusing the means with the end, and it is a lack of context (“why exactly do I need to use coaching?”) that can undermine any attempts to get managers coaching.

Coach training can often end up adding to this challenge. Typical coach training programmes take place over a day or two, introduce a model, train core skills such as asking good questions and active listening, and do some practice. What’s lacking is often any context for the coaching that relates to managers’ daily reality of improving effectiveness, reaching objectives and feeling well rewarded for it.

How to get every manager coaching?

Here are three proven strategies that will help with your current (or planned) coaching drive so that managers understand how coaching can be part of their regular working life, rather than have it become yet another burdensome add-on to their already long list of responsibilities…

  1. Coach in 10 minutes or less
    • For coaching to have any chance of sticking, it must fit to the reality of a managers' working life. And that means that, unless the process is straightforward, flexible and part of the rhythm of everyday work, managers simply don't have the capacity for coaching. Knowing that they can (and should) coach in bursts of 10 minutes or less is very freeing for managers.
    • So change the expectation that coaching has to be done at pre-appointed times, in a pre-appointed location. For coaching to flourish in an organisation, and for managers’ to see it as a normal way of interacting with their colleagues, coaching needs to be a daily activity, able to fit into a ten minute interaction... not (just) an occasional, special or longer conversation..
  2. Aim for adequate over excellent
    • For many in HR, learning and talent development departments, it will seem counter-intuitive to abandon the quest to create excellent internal coaches. The truth is, for most people’s challenges most of the time, being an adequate coach is more than enough.
    • Adequate means both appropriate to the moment and efficient. Over-coaching wastes time and money, and setting a standard of ’adequate’ helps normalise coaching. The power of this insight is that it removes the paralysing fear many managers feel about not being able to coach to a high enough standard.
  3. Address managers’ resistance in training
    • Most fears managers will have about coaching are unspoken and may relate to a sense of not having all the answers to the questions that may come up — and worse, that if they give the wrong answer or suggestion that they will cause irreparable damage to their colleague! Any training on coaching skills needs to pay attention to the points of resistance.
    • Underline the fact that it is important to be yourself rather than trying to come across as an expert or some kind of pseudo-therapist.
    • Remind managers that the key is to be interested and curious in the other person, and that coaching requires them to have some powerful questions, NOT to know all the answers.

In summary, position coaching as an additional leadership tool rather than a replacement for the current management style.

Coaching often gets introduced in a mire of heaviness, seriousness and self-importance — leaving many managers feeling resistant before they even know what it’s about. In fact, coaching doesn’t have to be called coaching at all. You can call it anything you like or not call it anything at all.

In many ways it is just the latest way of describing what it means to have an engaging or focused conversation with a colleague.