Prem Rao has posted a great piece on a simple coaching model for managers. However, I think that feedback is often a much more effective and efficient way to help people learn than coaching and this should always be tried before coaching is used.
I encourage all the managers I work with to coach all team members on goal based coaching contracts all the time! This builds the ability of the team to be way more productive and more efficient. But coaching is only used when other simpler and less time intensive techniques like feedback have failed to produce the desired results.
Helping managers to be specific about the behaviours they are trying to develop is always the starting point for me. I ask what kind of things they wish they could develop people on. Typical responses are things like to…’Show more initiative’ or ‘Be more of a team player’ or ‘Be more confident/assertive’ etc.
I then encourage them to think through what specific behaviours they have seen that lead them to think that this is an area that an individual needs to develop? Many managers struggle with this step. They have to spend some time watching people to figure out what it is that they are doing, or not doing, that leads to the diagnosis.
Once they are clear on the behaviours that are to be the focus of development I ask managers whether they have ever given feedback about them to the individual concerned. Usually the answer is no! This is a real missed opportunity because the simple use of consistent adjusting feedback (by a manager who is good at using both adjusting and affirming feedback) will often get results much more quickly and cost effectively than coaching.
If feedback does not work we then move onto goal based coaching.
The sad truth though is that most managers in the UK have never be trained how to use feedback effectively or how to coach their staff. And a fair percentage of those that have been taught fail to put it into practice because they are too busy fire fighting or doing what their team should be developed to do.