As an Executive and Leadership Coach, I interact with leaders who tell me that coaching adds to the learning and development of their employees.
However, when it comes to practicing coaching, the reality is often different. Could there be a reason for this? Often leaders admit that they enjoy being ‘the one who knows’ and prefer to give advice instead of coaching. This admission provides an opportunity for the leader to ‘let go’ and coach.
The more challenging excuses to work with are those entrenched in the leader’s belief system, especially when those beliefs match cultural norms on expectations of leader/follower behaviour.
Leaders who ask employees to share their thoughts, concerns, challenges and ideas can discover issues before they become problems
Here are some examples of faulty beliefs, that leaders often give for not coaching their employees:
1 No one is complaining so everything is fine
This assumption can result in a leader becoming out of touch with the challenges employees are facing. When a leader coaches, they’re able to keep their finger on the pulse of their teams or groups. Leaders who ask employees to share their thoughts, concerns, challenges and ideas can discover issues before they become problems. It is not only important to have their suggestions and views but to also make them feel their views and suggestion matters.
2. If my top performer does something bad, it won’t happen again. They know better
One of the most common excuses for avoiding what could be a difficult conversation is to ignore the issue completely. However, the sooner an employee is made aware that they have gone against company policy or their actions have had a detrimental impact, the better. The leader can turn this situation into a coaching opportunity by asking the employee if they are willing to look at ways to improve or get a more effective outcome.
3. Our top employees want to be left to get on with their work
Indeed, top performing employees want a steady stream of interesting projects as well as recognition. They also want their leaders to challenge them so they can develop a range of competencies and skills. Without coaching, leaders could risk losing top talent. Coaching helps to maximize and unlock potential, as such it is not only useful for underperforming employees but to also help high flyers sustain and improve their performance.
4. My employees aren’t interested in me asking questions. They want me to provide answers
This is an excuse of convenience. As the saying goes ‘it takes time to be a success but time is all it takes’. Even employees who are used to being told what to do enjoy the learning and improving once they’re trusted by their leaders and allowed to learn from their mistakes. In David H Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, hestates that the secret to high performance and satisfactionat work, at school, and at home is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves. In other words, leaders get the best results when they continuously coach their employees to improve and work on their own.
5. Let them ask when they don’t understand. That’s when I will coach them
Employees may be uncomfortable revealing that they need support. These fears could be deep rooted and maybe traced to parents and teachers demeaning them for not knowing everything. Interestingly, this behaviour is common amongst top performers who do not wish to be seen as inadequate. Employees feel supported when leaders ask ‘what challenges are you facing’ or how best could I support you at this time?