A Coaching Conversation Checklist for Smart Managers

A Coaching Conversation Checklist for Smart Managers

In spite of wide-spread coach training, most of the time managers aren’t using coaching skills to grow and develop their people. Instead, many managers still believe in their role as a problem solver, cutting short conversations with employees by providing solutions, advice, and answers. Yet managers with a coaching style usually find that their employees are more committed, willing to put in greater effort, and are less likely to leave. “Clearly, the benefits of building a coaching culture and increasing the effectiveness of coaching are great. There are both tangible benefits (increased employee engagement and productivity) and intangible benefits (improved culture and finding meaning and purpose in work).” ~ John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett, The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow, McGraw-Hill, 2010 In spite of learning coaching skills, many managers struggle to have effective coaching conversations that lead to insights and change. A checklist for coaching conversations can help. Zenger and Stinnett suggest using the FUEL model in The Extraordinary Coach: F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process, and desired outcome. U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue. E = Explore the Desired State. Help the coachee to articulate a vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision. L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability....
Face the Coaching FACTS

Face the Coaching FACTS

I’ve been writing about why more managers don’t use coaching skills to guide and develop their people. When managers don’t have clear framework for initiating coaching conversations, they revert to managing in more traditional ways, without coaching. Here is another framework and some powerful questions that work for coaching. People enjoy receiving their managers’ support, yet they also want to be challenged, note John Blakey and Ian Day in Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2012). Blakey and Day developed the FACTS coaching model from frontline observations: F = Feedback: How can coaches provide challenging feedback that informs and inspires? How can we ensure that praise and recognition for a job well done are balanced with honest feedback on mistakes, learning and failures? A = Accountability: How does a coach hold people accountable for commitments without blame or shame? How can accountability be extended from personal commitments to alignment with the values, strategy and ethos of the wider organization? C = Courageous Goals: How does a coach move beyond incremental goal-setting models to those that engage the right-brain attributes of courage, excitement, inspiration and transformation? Which models and concepts help structure coaching conversations and provide a practical road map? T = Tension: When is tension constructive? How can coaches practice creating and holding tension without risking burnout in key performers? How can the tension in a conversation be calibrated and dynamically adjusted to ensure peak performance? When does tension go too far and damage the underlying relationships? S = Systems Thinking: How can a coach stay sensitive to “big-picture” issues like ethics,...
Key Frameworks for Coaching Conversations

Key Frameworks for Coaching Conversations

I’ve been writing about why more managers don’t use coaching skills to guide and develop their people. Some managers don’t have clear framework for initiating coaching conversations. Here are two popular models that are easy to follow. GROW Model One of the original coaching frameworks is the GROW model, created by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore: G Goal The Goal is where the client wants to be. It must be clearly defined so people know when they’ve achieved it. R Reality The Current Reality is where the client is now. What are the issues and challenges? How far away is Goal achievement? O Obstacles What Obstacles are stopping the client from reaching the Goal? Options Once Obstacles are identified, the client finds Options to deal with them and make progress. W Way Forward The Options are converted into the Way Forward—action steps that map the way to reach the Goal. FUEL Coaching Conversations Zenger and Stinnett suggest using the FUEL model in The Extraordinary Coach: F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process and desired outcomes. U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue. E = Explore the Desired State. Articulate your vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision. L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability. If you’ve...
Even More on Why Managers Don’t Use Coaching Skills

Even More on Why Managers Don’t Use Coaching Skills

Even though most managers get trained in coaching skills, the majority aren’t having coaching conversations that expand awareness, thinking and capability in the people they lead. Why don’t more managers coach? According to John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett in The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow (McGraw-Hill Education, 2010), three common barriers stand in the way: Misconceptions of what coaching is A desire to avoid difficult conversations No clear game plan for initiating and framing coaching conversations I discussed the first reason, misconceptions of coaching in my previous post here. Let’s discuss the next barriers. A Desire to Avoid Difficult Conversations Coaching conversations require time and energy, but they’re the only way to gain trust, honesty and transparency. If you’re unwilling to invest the required time and effort, coaching will inevitably fail. Both parties must be committed to creating a positive relationship. Managers must be fully present during coaching conversations, which means turning off phones and email alerts during sessions. Keep any promises you make, and be sure to emphasize that you’ll maintain confidentiality. No Game Plan for Coaching Conversations Even after training, many managers have trouble initiating coaching conversations, let alone developing a process that expedites desired results. Many models exist, but the best are short, simple and easy to employ whenever coaching opportunities arise. Coaching needn’t be scheduled as 50-minute sessions. With a solid framework, you can achieve results in as little as 10 minutes. There are many models to follow, most with easy-to-remember frameworks such as the GROW model, the FUEL model, and the FACTS system. There is no shortage of books...
Why Managers Don’t use Coaching Skills

Why Managers Don’t use Coaching Skills

In spite of a lot of coach skills training for managers, not many are actually initiating coaching conversations with people. There are some misconceptions and barriers that stop them, from what I’ve observed in my work. According to John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett in The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow (McGraw-Hill Education, 2010), managers usually cite lack of time as the main excuse for failing to coach employees, but the real reasons may be different. Misconceptions of What Coaching Is Some managers are not clear what they’re supposed to do when they coach. Skilled managers initiate coaching conversations so their people can explore what they do and how they do it. Coaching expands employee awareness, uncovers better solutions, and allows employees to make and implement sound decisions. Coaching provides a safe platform for growth. Successful managers consciously choose growth as a priority outcome. They understand that developing people is as important as getting things done. Coaching isn’t instructing, mentoring, counseling, cheerleading, therapy or directing, although there are some similarities. Coaching skills include: Clarifying an interaction’s outcome and agreeing to a conversation’s goal Listening to what is—and isn’t—said Asking non-leading questions to expand awareness Exploring possibilities, consequences, actions and decisions Eliciting a desired future state Establishing goals and expectations, including stretch goals Providing support Following up on progress Setting accountability agreements Managers must be non-directive, listen intently and ask the right questions. Coach training emphasizes supporting people, with an eye toward challenging them. As a manager, you’re tasked with bringing out the best in people, including high performance and bottom-line results. When you take up...