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This is a guest article from Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center .

When should a manager or leader MANAGE and when should they COACH? What’s the difference? 

Managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and prioritizing the work so that their teams can accomplish a task or goal. It's necessary to manage or direct tasks when things get off track or difficult decisions need to be made. Coaching is focused on personal and professional development and bringing out the best in others by building up skills, confidence, competence, and commitment. Depending upon the situation and the person, managers might coach a new team member by showing them how things are done or by encouraging a seasoned team member to discover a solution on their own by asking great coaching questions. 

What are the benefits of coaching? Challenges? 

Coaching builds strategic thinking skills and confidence. It encourages team members to make decisions on their own and solve problems. Coaching sends a message that "you are valued" to the employee and can increase commitment and engagement significantly. The challenge of coaching for some managers is finding the time to coach effectively. If a company truly supports coaching and development, it must commit to helping managers create the time and space for coaching. This may mean additional resources, more reasonable onboarding of new employees and new clients, and communicating the expectation that developing others is their number one priority. For onboarding new employees and giving the first presentations, a company should work on visual representation, such as using professional images to provide a clear message.

Is there an optimal level of coaching frequency? 

Coaching frequency depends upon the needs of the employee. When employees are new to the role or job, they may need more frequent coaching than more experienced employees. The best opportunity to coach might be in a weekly one-on-one meeting with the employee if the opportunity presents itself. But the most important thing for managers to do is to keep a pulse on their employees and look for opportunities where coaching is the right approach. 

How can an organization better support coaching (rather than the managing) of teams? 

Organizations can best support coaching by building a culture of development, by giving time and space for managers and employees to engage in a coaching relationship, and by setting the expectation that coaching is a priority. 

What kinds of tools and skills do organizations need to offer? 

Training managers on a coaching approach is very helpful. There are many simple and effective coaching methods include the GROW conversational model. Helping employees to define: 

  • what the Goal is for the situation; 
  • what the current Reality is of the situation; 
  • what Options they have to change the situation or move forward; and 
  • then what Will they commit to doing. 

This model can be simple and effective in many coaching situations. 

Other tools that are helpful are relationship-building tools such as the Everything DISC for Managers assessment. This helps managers understand how to direct, delegate, motivate and develop team members with different style preferences. By considering style, managers can quickly adapt their coaching approach to meet the needs of their employees. This can create a much more impactful and effective coaching conversation. 

How do (or does?) hybrid workplace arrangements contribute to the need for/ challenges of coaching? 

Hybrid workplaces require more intentionality and asking better questions in one-on-one meetings to identify the opportunity for coaching. Having employees provide updates weekly on their wins, challenges, and what support they need to thrive, can uncover coaching moments. Team coaching can also be helpful in a hybrid environment where someone brings a challenging situation to the team meeting and you use the GROW conversation model to get the group to walk through their options. This allows everyone to learn from one another and helps to build a coaching culture even in a hybrid environment.

Last updated: 23 Mar 2022

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