Coaching – Let’s reclaim an every day management tool!

The profession of coaching continues to grow at an amazing rate. A search on google for coaching yields 78 MILLION pages. And as the profession develops, coaching becomes more and more complicated. There are professional coaching qualifications, codes of practice and ethics and a library of academic research on best coaching practice. Just to keep up to speed with developments in coaching seems to be a full time job.

However, coaching is not this hard. Many managers avoid coaching because of the complexity that has developed around it. The simple truth is that every manager should be coaching every member of their team, all of the time. All they need is to use a simple and practical coaching model and good interpersonal skills. And most improtasntly they must want their team members to do well. So much in coaching depends on intent.

Re-discovering coaching as a simple, quick and efficient way of building ability and developing excellent teams offer managers a straight-forward way to stand head and shoulders above most of their peers – who continue to believe that coaching is an expensive and usually outsourced development solution.

The Truth about Performance Management?

Over recent decades the performance management industry has grown like topsy. Re-engineering, Balanced Scorecard, Lean Thinking, Strategy Mapping – there has never been such a choice of techniques to improve the performance of your organisation. Yet more often than not they simply don’t work. They cost a lot in both time and money…but just don’t deliver the highly anticipated and much needed returns.

So what does work?

In my experience significant performance improvements can be made by investing in the quality of line management, and in particular, excellent people management. In the vast majority of the organisations that I see three simple processes, well trained and efficiently executed provide the springboard for continual improvement of performance. These are:

  1. weekly, half hour meetings between the manager and each of their direct reports – 121s;
  2. regular use of effective and professional feedback, both affirmative (letting people know when they did something that you want to see more of) or adjusting (letting them know when they have done something that you do not want to see repeated);
  3. coaching each and every team member – all of the time – to help them to improve their performance.

Of course there are many, many more things that help to improve performance – but unless managers are doing these three things routinely and consistently well – then investment in any other approach is likely to be severely undermined by poor management.

So why are these processes so often over-looked?

Well firstly they are not very sexy! These are every day, almost mundane, processes that build trust, improve communication, enhance skills and add value to the organisation. To many managers who spend every day fighting fires and averting disaster this is most definitely NOT what management is about.

Secondly they sound like they will take a lot of time. The first excuse that I am usually given by a manager for not doing 121s is that they don’t have time, ‘I have 10 direct reports – you really think I can spend 5 hours a week doing 121s?’. Well the truth is that the 5 hours of 121s probably saves 10 hours of time spent responding to ad hoc requests for the managers time, or dealing with problems that could have been easily avoided if communication was better and trust was stronger.

The third most common objection is that feedback will cause conflict. It risks lifting the lid on Pandora’s Box and letting out all sorts of opinions, beliefs and personal prejudices that can only damage relationships.

And the final objection is that ‘no-one does this stuff around here’. Well exactly – no wonder the organisation is looking for tools and techniques that will help performance improve.

Hello world!

Welcome to the first post of the Progressive Managers’ Network weblog. The PMN provides a ‘better management development for less’ aimed at managers who

  1. are committed to finding ways to improve what they do – they have a learning orientation and are willing to take risks and experiment in pursuit of personal and professional improvement.
  2. recognise that their most important role is to help others in the organisation to do their very best work.
  3. are committed to making a positive difference in their work and community.

This blog will provide useful and practical information that you can use to improve your performance as a manager and the performance of your organisation.

You can also find information on training programmes, clients, and testimonials at