Coaching: the real change instrument for the manager

Coaching differs from other important activities in an organisation.

Managing is about designing a structure for an organisation; a strategy to set targets by combining the market and the unique products and services of the company.

Training is learning specific new behaviour or the unlearning of unwanted habits.

Leading people is getting commitment on goals and organise the work of the people.

Consulting is giving advice about the best way to do; the best organisation; the best…

Lecturing is talking about theories, practices, ideas, and models.

All these activities are necessary. They are used for the proper goals.

What can be the proper goal for coaching?

A story. A manager in a rather new company wants an assistance that can do all the practical contact with clients, visitors. She makes a detailed job description. Talked with ten candidates and those one that had experience.

She thought: “Nice, I solved a problem, now I can go to my real work.” She went out of office and did not look at the assistance for ten days. Then one day she heard the assistance talking with a client in a way she did not like. She made a note of it. Three days later she overheard a phone conversation and some sentences she did not like. Four days later she saw the assistance dressed with clothes she thought are not proper. Two days later she saw a letter the assistance had written. She did not like the layout. The volcano in her burst out. She called for the assistant and told him she was totally dissatisfied with his behaviour and he was fired at the spot.

Confused the assistant reflected silently on his behaviour. “How to better understand a manager?” He looked for a course on “mind reading”. The manager too reflected: “How can I better select?” She enlisted to a very expensive course on “improving your selection skills”

Both choices are probably without the desired effect. Why? Because the training actions they choose do not fit the real causes.

The real causes are (a) not having agreed in the beginning on the detailed expectations of the manager; (b) the manager did not give any feedback; (c) she did not ask for feedback by the assistant.

This might not have happened when both had reflected on their behaviour in a coaching way. Guided by another person. What are the coaching activities?

A short statement: coaching is not doing what the person himself must do; the person must focus on the ways he solved or wants to solve a problem. Asking questions starts reflecting on behaviour.

Coaching can be done by the manager or the leader. The leader must be able to distinguish his leader actions from his coaching actions. He must know when to switch and how to switch. When the manager assigns a specific job and the person asks “how can I best…?” or “what do you advise me….?” “Tell me what I….?”.

The leader must choose. Leading actions, lecturing, giving advice or coaching. When he chooses for coaching he asks questions like: “what is you goal?”” What do you think you are going to do to reach the goal”; “ what do you think the effect will be?”” Is this the effect you really want?” When talking about the past he asks for detailed descriptions of the behaviour. He invites to reflect on behaviour. In coaching you do not solve the problem. The coach puts the other to work. A person can try to avoid thinking and experimenting himself. When he does what the master wants and it is wrong he is excused:”the master told me…” In coaching the aim is to let a person decide and act independently.

Effective coaching actions fulfil three requirements: the relation is based on respect; the method is proven in scientific research and the coaching person adds understanding to his actions.

In organisations two behaviours are often changed with coaching. One is too independent behaviour and the other is too dependent behaviour. Coaching to more independent behaviour is done by rewarding all revolting, initiative behaviour and punishes hiding behind others. Neglect asking for permission and accepts mistakes.

Managers need special reflection on their behaviour. They are mostly the people who get less comments on their behaviour. They often have nobody to talk to. Nobody gives them direct feedback. Most difficult for managers are: motivating people. For themselves they have big problem in handling emotions as: disappointment; annoying and impatience.

Managers can coach each other when they act coaching.
Coaching is contrary to the general high valued act of helping. Sometimes coaching provokes someone to solve the problem on his own. This is a long-term positive contribution to the problem solving ability.

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