Let’s explore a real-life scenario that demonstrates coaching in action.
Imagine you’re a manager at a tech company and oversee a promising employee named Ryan. He has great technical skills but is hesitant in meetings and reluctant to take on additional tasks. You’ve identified a potential lack of confidence.
As the leader, it’s your role to approach Ryan. Given your understanding of the situation, it might be tempting to take a direct approach, advising Ryan to become more vocal during meetings and to assume more responsibilities to enhance his confidence and demonstrate his capabilities.
While this approach has good intent, it assumes the leader knows what the problem is and how to fix it and does not involve any collaboration or input from Ryan. This can lead to an environment ripe for defensiveness, miscommunication and misaligned goals.
Instead, consider how coaching techniques like powerful questioning, self-reflection and collaborative goal-setting could transform the conversation.
“Ryan, I’ve noticed that you’re not engaging in meetings, you’re showing hesitancy in areas where you have ample knowledge, and you’re passing up new opportunities presented to you. With the aim of supporting your growth, I’m interested in learning more about your perspective and how you’re feeling at work. This might involve me asking you some questions to grasp the situation better, and then, collaboratively, we can set goals to enhance your performance. How does that sound to you?”
In this approach, collaboration takes center stage. Rather than dictating what Ryan should do, you’re using coaching dialogue and even seeking his permission, which creates a safe and open space for him to share.