Coaching is becoming a buzzword among leaders and managers looking to find more effective ways to get the best out of their employees.
We are seeing an increasing number of owners and leaders in financial advisory firms attending our open coaching and mentoring training courses, wishing to use the coaching skills with clients and with their team members. But I often hear them say that they “struggle to find the time to coach their team members”, because they’re too busy with meetings, dealing with problems and client work.
As with many coaching principles, I would encourage a change of perspective! There are three major reasons why leaders should recognise that coaching their team members can be a valuable way of spending their time.
So what are these three reasons?
1. Coaching gives leaders a great return on investment
Effective coaching is about empowerment, rather than directive leadership. If a leader spends his time telling team members what to do and how to do it, and approving their actions or decisions, it simply reinforces dependence on the leader.
Good coaches make their team members feel empowered, helping them grow by building new competencies, giving them confidence and increasing their motivation. All of this makes them more independent and higher performing.
And so, rather than holding their hands all the time, your time is freed up to take the important decisions which a leader should be taking, and focusing on leading your team forward.
2. You don’t need to find time to coach
Coaching doesn’t mean adding extra time into your schedule. Instead, you can change how you use your 1:1s, team meetings and daily conversations.
You don’t need to call these conversations “coaching” to take a coaching approach. If a team member brings you a problem – be it technical, relationship or a question of prioritisation – help them and challenge them to take ownership and solve their own problems, rather than giving them solutions. That’s coaching!
Think of it this way. Every time you help a team member solve their own problems rather than coming to you, you have helped them grow, motivated them and reduced their dependency on you and your time. Everybody wins!
3. Coaching is very effective (when you know how)
Last but not least: are you effective when you are coaching? There is a big misconception that coaching is a slow process. To do it effectively, you need to have the right mindset and skills. Many leaders try coaching without enough training in the art, leading to their attempts being slow, clunky and ineffective.
When the leader-turned-coach struggles, they will typically revert to a telling approach, only reinforcing the team member’s feeling of helplessness and disempowerment, and frustrating both parties.
But done well, coaching can be very fast indeed! On our courses, we teach our “Water Cooler” coaching, teaching participants to turn a throw-away comment into an opportunity to help a colleague in less than five minutes. It’s a great demonstration of how powerful coaching really is – when you know how!
My view is that any business leader who is serious about getting the best out of themselves and their team cannot afford to not find the time to coach!
Coaching will give you a great return on investment and can be incorporated into your normal meetings and conversations. If you build up the right set of skills, it can be highly effective.
Do you have any views on the time-effectiveness of coaching, or experiences of how coaching in your workplace has improved productivity? Please share them with us.