Coaching direct reports, might not work sometimes

There is a new trend in organisations to use coaching as a managerial tool. Some managers, tend to attend coaching trainings and seminars and starting using “coaching” with the direct reports. I even heard one manager telling one of the reports “you have just been coached”. Sometimes people we work with do not behave or achieve as expected and managers believe that coaching might help. Well…

Even if sometimes looks so, coaching is not a tool to trick someone to do things that you as a manager should ask from the person. It is not a tool to influence people. It is a great way to be helpful.

Coaching is a great tool to accomplish objectives in life and in the organisation, but in my opinion, it requires some conditions to be met.

Sometimes you are part of the problem

Coaching is an excellent problem solving tool. But there are times when the problem you are trying to solve is not your employee problem but your problem and actually you are trying to solve your problem through him. I even met situations when the employee behaviour was in fact generated by the manager. It is obvious that coaching any other person that the person that in fact created the problem is loss of time and resources.

You are not creating a new perspective

One of the most important coaching objectives (imho) is to at least create a new perspective to the client. As managers we use to tell people everything. More than that we use to explain them our “vision” even when is not the case to do so.

Of course is not coach perspective, but a coach can get you there. I noticed that most of the managers are not able to create new perspectives because that they are biased by their objectives and their formal relationship to the client (client is the person that is coached in coaching language).

You think you know better

Sometimes your formal managerial perspective make you think that you already know better what your employee should do and how. And this is killing the coaching process. Knowing better can make you a good consultant, but an awful coach

Maybe you are not there for the person

A coach should be a person that is there for you, to help you get hat you want to achieve. Most of the so called coaching sessions initiated by the managers are taking place with the purpose of making someone to embrace a company objective (or more). Unfortunately company objectives do not align with employee personal objectives which bring us back to first paragraph. This means that you are initiating the coaching for you or for the company, but not for the person. I am sorry to tell you, but it might not work.

What to do?

Of course it is something to do as a manager.

  1. Don’t be coach when you cannot be
  2. Help your report understand how achieving company objectives might help her
  3. Explain your point of view
  4. Get an external coach (it can be someone from another department if you cannot afford an external coach) and be ready to let the things happen maybe in a different manner than you expected
  5. Be a better manager
  6. Be a better leader