We encourage all members of our team to be a coach to others. Coaching allows us to learn from others and is one way we support others to improve personally and all of us to improve as a team. It doesn’t take a lot of time – coaching can be done in under 10 minutes. However, coaching is not an opportunity to highlight what we believe someone is doing wrong or to highlight our own strengths. Coach others to expand their problem solving skills and to build their independence.
What does it mean to coach?
- Build trust by truly having the other person’s best interest at heart. The purpose of coaching to help them grow, not to show off your expertise
- Show interest in the progress and goals of others. Be curious and seek to understand what they are trying to accomplish.
- Ask some open ended questions such as ‘what are you working on?’ and ‘what has been your biggest challenge or accomplishment?’ to get the conversation going
- Allow them space to think and to answer. Then comes the hard part – ask questions to make sure you understand the situations, but don’t give solutions. This means that asking questions that contain a solution (‘have you thought about doing x’) are out of bounds
- Again, resist the urge to provide solutions, especially if you haven’t asked many questions
- Resist taking responsibility for completing their tasks – this undermines confidence and builds dependence
- Rushing to a solution may mean the wrong problem is being addressed
- Being the ‘go to’ person might be good for your ego, but it means you can become a bottleneck
- Allow space for others to grow
- Support others in problem solving by asking questions and then patiently waiting for the answer. This allows them time to think and for the true issue or concern to be stated. Speak less, listen and ask more
- Ask questions that don’t presuppose the answer. A good starting question is ‘What is your concern?’. The best follow up to their answer is ‘And what else is concerning you?’ Keep asking ‘what else’ until they run out of answers
Helping folks to be more independent problem solvers builds confidence and allows individuals and teams to increase their velocity. Helping each other to grow can be hugely rewarding. Try it out and see!