The Manager as Coach: Coaching with the Time You Have

In today’s fast-paced working environment, people in leadership roles are being asked more and more to use a coaching approach to move people and their projects forward. Interestingly, the number one reason managers give for not coaching is that it takes too much time. Let’s explore that reasoning.

At The Ken Blanchard Companies, we define coaching as a deliberate process using focused conversations to create an environment that results in accelerated performance and development.

Let me say that again: coaching accelerates performance and development through a deliberate process of focused conversations. It doesn’t say how much time coaching should take or where coaching needs to happen. The reality is that coaching can be used on the job, in any conversation—planned or unplanned, long or short.

There is only one requirement. You must first learn, and then intentionally practice, coaching skills so that they become a permanent tool in your toolkit. A good way to begin is by using formal coaching on a regular basis.

Formal Coaching

Regularly scheduled meetings, such as one-on-ones, are a great opportunity to formally practice coaching skills. Because these meetings are planned, you can be intentional about how you show up. You can even ask the other person to let you know ahead of time what specific development topics they may want to discuss. During the meeting, you can practice getting clear agreement on a specific topic. As you explore the topic, if you recognize that the person you’re working with is capable of finding a solution, you could then use the coaching process. At that point you would intentionally avoid being directive and instead would ask open-ended questions to allow the individual to surface options and ideas.

As you continue to identify coachable moments in these formal conversations and to practice using the coaching process, you and the other person will begin to anticipate how conversations will play out. You will get into a rhythm that will really help when the need for informal coaching arises.

Informal Coaching

The coaching process and skills you use in your formal conversations are equally useful in brief, spontaneous interactions you have with people throughout your day. As with formal coaching, you slow down to get clear agreement on the focus for the conversation. Once that is established, you ask the person what their options and ideas are for moving forward. Again, if you sense the person you’re working with can find a solution on their own, avoid being directive and just ask a couple of questions to draw out their own brilliance.

Whether you are in a formal or informal coaching conversation:

  • Get clear agreement/clear focus on the specific subject
  • Consider this a potential growth opportunity for the other person
  • Don’t jump in with solutions—instead, encourage the person you’re working with to explore their own ideas for how to move forward.

Remember: it’s about coaching with the time you have—not about how much time it takes to coach. The small investments of time involved in having focused conversations can often result in high yields.
Coaching also creates an increasing level of self-reliance. Managers who coach provide a win for the organization, a win for the person being coached, and a win for themselves! I think that’s a good thing—wouldn’t you agree?

About the Author

Joanne Maynard headshot.jpegJoanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.


4 thoughts on “The Manager as Coach: Coaching with the Time You Have

  1. how do you deal with your boss who
    doesn’t have the leadership skill
    and poor in people management? our team is suffering due to his lack of leadership skills?

  2. So sorry your team is suffering Vince. If I may – have you tried managing up? Manage up basically means determining what you need most and asking for it? Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with your boss? If not would it be valuable to ask? One-on-one conversations are a great forum for asking for what you need.

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