Practical Coaching for Managers


I have been working over the last week or so on delivering my Practical Coaching workshop. It is designed to help managers to coach every team member to improve performance on a weekly basis. It should get some real momentum behind professional development, personal development and performance improvement.

Like most of my training the emphasis is put less on ‘coaching skills’ and more on an effective, systematic, replicable coaching process.

Judging by the initial repsonse the approach has been well received. Much of the training focuses on helping managers to agree SMART objectives for coaching that will ensure real clarity about what is going to be learned – and how a success will be judged.

We did this in a few case study examples that were supplied by participants and had some fun turning some pretty vague coaching aims (I want to coach them to be more confident/decisive; I want to coach them to be less needy of me as their manager etc) into SMART coaching objectives.

By turning these into SMART goals and then developing resources for learning, building action plans and looking at weekly progress reviews, participants were able to see some very practical ways that they could approach coaching their team members – without the need for (usually expensively acquired) ‘coaching skills’.

As always the work on SMART objectives flushed out some interesting variations on the acronym. Is the A for Achievable? The R for Realistic? If so, then what is the difference? The formulation that I encourage participants to use is:

  1. Specific – what exactly do you want them to learn to do
  2. Measurable – how will you know – absolutely whether they have met the standard that you expect
  3. Actionable – is the objective ‘dripping’ with potential actions – is it full of ‘things to do’?
  4. Relevant – where does this objective fit with their personal and professional development? Where does it fit with the needs of the business?
  5. Time related – have we got a clear time commitment – by which the goal will be achieved?

Being able top convert a vague coaching aim into a SMART coaching objective is certainly more than half the battle. After that it just requires lots of feedback and a bit of discipline to manage weekly checks on the team members progress.

This way a manager can coach every member of their team, every week and deliver real performance improvement in the organisation – without spending fortunes on external coaches.

Sounds like a winning recipe to me!