Calling all managers- have you brushed up on your coaching skills recently? No?
Hmmm… you must not be aware of the incredible value of effective coaching and the amazing effect it can have on your team…
Never fear- MadeYou are here to help.
In this blog, we will make sure you understand the difference between coaching, mentoring and training (did you know there were significant differences?), give you a few tips and tricks to improve your coaching capabilities and fill you in on why coaching could transform your team for the better.
The Value of Coaching
Through effective coaching, managers can help their staff gain confidence, feel empowered to think for themselves and ultimately take ownership of their current roles and plans for the future of their career. Coaching can boost employee morale, improve retention rates and strengthen individual performance- unlocking amazing benefits for any company.
Caught your interest? Great. Read on.
The benefits of coaching are wide-ranging and can have a massively positive impact on careers- and therefore your business as a whole. By enabling staff to become self-aware; to trust themselves and their own judgement, they are likely to take greater responsibility, be more accountable, work more easily with peers and communicate more effectively- all of which will help with job satisfaction and make employees even more valuable to your organisation.
By developing and enhancing their skills (both professionally and personally) and being interested in the growth of your staff, you’re showing them that you care about their progress- hugely increasing the likelihood of them remaining loyal to you and your brand.
What Are the Differences Between Coaching, Mentoring and Training?
While they all may fall under the same ‘development’ umbrella, there are clear differences, and each should be used for a different purpose.
Training is what we do to teach necessary processes:
“This is how this should be done- please do it this way. Tick this box here and enter that number there. I know he swore at you, but you really shouldn’t swear back…”
Mentoring is what we use to guide by experience and to help an individual reach an over-arching goal:
“This is how I’ve approached this previously- take this information and think about how you would go about it.”
Coaching is what we do to bring about change in a person (and therefore their behaviour), in the here and now and through their own thought with the aim of achieving a specific goal:
“What is it you want to achieve? What do you think you will need to do to get there?”
Benefits of Learning to Coach Effectively as a Manager
If you’ve taken the time to read this far, we’re going to go ahead and assume you’re a manager of a team (or a team of managers) and that you’re intrigued about what high-quality coaching, delivered by you, could do for them and the results they produce.
Here’s a (non-exhaustive) shortlist:
- Coaching boosts individuals’ self-awareness; they begin to understand who they are, what makes them tick and how they can evolve.
This is all good stuff for you- if they don’t know what they need or want, are you supposed to guess? Knowledge is power my friend.
- Coaching helps individuals achieve clarity re what they really want and how they can get it- inevitably leading to better productivity and business success.
Coaching can bring about necessary clarity for your team and provide a time and space in which to focus on themselves and their aspirations. In the busy office haze, it can be very difficult to put your mind into big-picture-thinking mode. In a call centre environment, it can be a challenge to even think beyond lunch time- never mind map out your ideal five-year plan…
- Coaching enables individuals to focus on the right elements and concentrate their energy so they’ll be happier and more successful in their career (and therefore of more value to your business).
With effective coaching comes clear thought and direct action. You can guide your team by prompting them to think for themselves, focus on their chosen path and set goals to hit along the way. This provides a sense of control, achievement and possibility.
- Improve their motivation in taking the right next steps by offering accountability and support when times get tough.
Let’s face it, we all need a bit of accountability to keep us on track at times- you can be that for your team. At each session you can set agreed, realistic goals and be an accountability partner for your team members. You can also be there to coach them through any setbacks before sending them back out with a new set of goals to keep them motivated.
- Build their resilience and confidence in their work life. They’ll know their worth and that they have the right tools at their disposal, no matter what their work life throws at them.
This is a biggee. Through your effective coaching, you can empower your team to work towards their goals, safe in the knowledge that they have your full support and guidance to hand. No employee wants to strive towards a career upgrade without the solid back-up of their manager. You can be the solid foundation from which your reports can flourish- and hey- isn’t that exactly what being a good manager is all about?
Getting to the Good Bit…Our Tips for Effective Coaching
Our ‘Coaching Skills for Managers Course’ is packed full of advice, tips and tricks to turn you into a coaching legend but, seeing as you’ve taken the time to have a read of this blog, we’ll give you a few tasters from the course to help you on your way:
- Listen: Coaching sessions should be focussed on listening to your report. As a rule of thumb, you should spend only 25% of the time talking and at least 75% of the time listening. If you’re talking a lot, you are most likely mentoring or training by accident- and there is a distinct difference, remember. If you think you know how to solve a particular issue they’re facing, keep it to yourself and help them find their own way. Restraint is a key skill required for good coaching.
- Read between the lines: Be curious of what’s said and unsaid as silence can speak a thousand words. Pay attention to their body language or tone of voice for cues about how they may be feeling or what they may be wanting to say but are struggling to articulate. It’s your job to enable them to voice their thoughts.
- Speak (when necessary): Some ‘coaches’ will ask a single question at the start of a session and proceed to sit in silence while their report (victim) squirms uncomfortably in their seat. Ask the right questions to help your reports find the answers.
- Use their name: Reflect back any operational or behavioural actions using their name- it’s impactful, personal and ensures the message sticks.
Our Number One Tip
Who is your current right-hand person and potential successor? Whoever sprung to mind- coach them first. Effective coaching will enable them to empower you with the time, support and resources to help everyone else.
Focus on what their strengths and weaknesses are, what they do better than you, what you do better than them and, if you chose to move on, what may prevent them from successfully stepping in your place.
How to Structure a Coaching Session
Coaching newbies may want a guideline to follow for their first few sessions- luckily, we have a structure all mapped out with an easy to remember anagram; GROW:
- Goals: What do they want to achieve and why?
- Reality: Where are they now in relation to their goal, what will hold them back/aid them and what do they need to bridge the gaps?
- Options: What avenues are available to enable them to reach their goal?
- Way Forward: What are the next steps? What is the focus going to be right now and what steps will need to be taken beyond that?
Hear from a Professional Coach
Right- enough from us- let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth.
Sue Bowell, professional Customer Service Coach and Training Coordinator at MadeYou, gives her thoughts on providing coaching in a Customer Service Contact Centre setting:
“All of my roles have had their challenges and rewards but, during my years as a Team Leader, one of the duties I enjoyed the most, was when I wore my Coaches’ Hat!
Being able to spend time with them, on a 1 on 1 basis, without distractions, was something I looked forward to. Anyone who’s worked in a contact centre will know how limited time is- and being able to take an agent away from the phone, chat or emails is very difficult which made these sessions even more precious.
Most of my agents looked forward to our monthly sessions. We’d start by going over their results for the previous month. This was a conversation, not just reading results. We would discuss the numbers and I would ask for their thoughts. This was a good opportunity for me to gauge how they were feeling. If an agent was struggling in a certain area, we would discuss how they thought they could improve/understand/adapt- leading them to find the answers themselves.
Not all agents were open to coaching- in fact, I found my more experienced agents to be the biggest challenge. They felt they knew the job inside out and therefore didn’t need any coaching. But despite great track records in hitting targets, long-standing agents could easily fall into bad habits and the newbies would very quickly pick up on them- learning bad habits themselves. So, we would talk about this during our sessions and I’d remind them that they were the ones the new guys look to, so it’s important for them to understand that they were really valued and that they should be setting the standard.
Coaching my team members and seeing them taking onboard everything we’d spoken about, was so satisfying and seeing an agent slowly start to gain confidence, be motived to improve and start hitting those targets is so rewarding.
The power of coaching should never be underestimated- it helped me spot potential leaders, people who were really committed to their role and those who wanted to do better.”
Our Coaching Skills for Managers Course
While we’ve hinted at some great starting points for your inner coach to take flight here, our course is packed to the rafters with further information, training and tips including:
- How to coach leaders and the value of doing so
- The best coaching questions to start with
- Identifying the hares, tortoises and thoroughbred racehorses among you and learning to communicate with those in all categories
- When to utilise group coaching sessions
- What emotional questions may not always be appropriate in the workplace but are fantastic for coaching purposes
You can sign up for the Coaching Skills for Managers Training Course here.