Johan: Great to meet you Andi! We just had some training for managers and directors in order to learn coaching skills for managers. What does that mean specifically?
Andi: For me it’s about asking managers and leaders to take a coach approach to working with people. Rather than giving them answers and solutions it’s really about getting their people to work things out for themselves.
Johan: Alright. And generally in leadership training courses, you include coaching as a basic element?
Andi: Yes. For me a fundamental part of leading is getting people to raise their performance, to reach expectations and therefore coaching is a key tool for that.
Johan: What’s the most important aspect of the training on coaching skills? Is it practice, to learn a model, or to think differently in interacting with employees?
Andi: I think a couple of things. One is about understanding the flow. The structure to coaching and secondly it’s about practicing. The only way you get better at practice is to improve at practice and getting feedback. So structure, practice and feedback.
Johan: Okay, great. We are going to be looking at feedback this afternoon. What’s your favorite feedback model?
Andi: For me probably the AID model. What’s the action a person did? What’s the impact of that action and then what’s the desired change or desired behavior you want. And again, you can tell people in the feedback or you can ask them. People really know what they are doing, so you can ask and you can tell. In short, the AID model. Action, Impact, Desired behavior.
Johan: I also think there’s a great advantage of working on coaching skills and having a better ability to give feedback on a continuous basis and do so with some structure. With a little bit of a coaching skill they [managers] could, offload a load of their heavy stuff [workload burden] in their work and trust their teams more and leverage on their knowledge and capacity.
Andi: Yeah, fundamentally. The whole thing is around this is trust. Getting people to be competent and to be trustworthy. You trust people. You understand their perspective and their viewpoint and the way they work. If you typically see organizations, a lot of the time people delegate things out and then they’ll take it back because they don’t trust it will be done properly.
A lot of the time people delegate things out and then they’ll take it back because they don’t trust it will be done properly.
Whereas if they work through a good delegation plan and they have good coaching process to support the delegation, typically the results happen and then they can start to offload. But you first need to have the belief first that people are capable and then help them get there.
Johan: And what are of some of those key impacts that can come from the way a manager deals with his team? How he confronts problems in the day-to-day business?
Andi: I think there are a couple of things. First thing is for me, managers install confidence in their people. At the end of the day you are asking them to figure out things for themselves and that gives people confidence in you as the leader. You are making the effort to ask. It gives them confidence that their ideas are valid. Secondly there’s always follow-up with coaching. As a leader who coach, you do probably more follow-up and feedback than a leader who is detached. And because of the type of coaching conversations you have, you are driving performance for the business and you are also providing personal and professional growth. Those are the fundamental pieces. Spending time to coach people gives people confidence makes them perform better. Also engages them more with the business and that creates the increase in productivity.
Johan: Regarding performance. Sometimes there is trouble with low performance. Would you say that intrinsically, everyone wants to perform well?
Andi: I think so.
Johan: Within certain [the right] conditions.
Andi: Yes. If people are given the right tools, the right space, the right culture. I think people want to do great things. Any organization employs someone because they bring amazing abilities and they all turn up motivated and ready to rock on the first day. What stops them? Possibly the culture, the processes, the system and the leadership style. However, everyone turns up that first day amazingly motivated. Probably with most of the skills they need and then it’s a matter of their leaders, their managers to make sure that we keep them and engage them.
You typically hear this whole thing about how people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. That is partly true. Why did they leave? Disconnection, lack of feedback, lack of development, lack of growth and that comes from the leader that they work for. Even if that leader is constrained in terms of training budgets and opportunities, you can still help people grow in whatever role.
People who are motivated typically get motivated when they have capacity and capability to learn and grow and develop themselves. Coaching allows people to learn and grow and develop themselves. If you look at things like Daniel Pink’s Drive or any of the classic motivation theories. It’s all about self-responsibility, self-growth and social connection.
Coaching provides all of that. And I think that’s why coaching has become particularly powerful in business over the last 10-20 years. And will continue to be more powerful and a more used tool. So, rather than being a thing you do once in a while, you take a coach approach to being a leader. You consider: “I would rather ask questions and develop my people than tell them what to do.” You go from command and control to figuring it out together.
Johan: So, for the manager who just learnt some coaching skills, what’s your recommendation to get started?
Andi: Two things. First. Practice and practice. Secondly, the person you are coaching doesn’t know you are coaching or doesn’t know that you are doing well or bad. So, just do it. It’s practice, practice, and practice and just do it! Don’t be afraid to have a go. They will never know. They will be amazed and impressed that you are helping them.
I would rather ask questions and develop my people than tell them what to do.