Drive employee engagement, learn how to be a Confident Coach

In today’s fast-paced world, standing still is no longer an option. As your business grows and develops, it’s more important than ever to help your people upgrade their skills and adapt to new ways of working.

Learning is the new loyalty – so it’s not surprising that coaching has gone from latest business buzzword to a fundamental management tool that helps drive employee engagement and performance.

What exactly is coaching?

The aim of coaching is to help the other person discover a new way forward to fulfil their potential and maximise their performance.  The focus of the coaching conversation should be on empowering the other person to find a solution rather than telling them what they should be doing differently. This sounds easy to do in theory, but is difficult to do in practice. You need to draw on your emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions and those of others – to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand the most effective way to motivate them to keep raising their game.

Below are five steps to help you on your journey to becoming a confident coach:

1. Develop a coaching mindset

This is a mindset that looks for the potential in others by focusing on the positives and believing that everyone can grow and develop with the right support and encouragement. Make it your priority to inspire your people to be the very best that they can be by looking for opportunities to help them make this a reality. Above all avoid pigeon-holing others, remember, in general, people will rise to your level of expectation.

2. Identify who and when to coach

As a manager, you see your team in action on a daily basis and are therefore best placed to identify when someone is stuck and needs coaching or when training, mentoring or managing is a more appropriate learning approach. You need to harness your EQ to constantly judge what is right for a specific individual at a given time. For example, if someone on your team lacks confidence or has a blind spot then coaching can help them move forwards. If, however, they lack particular technical expertise, then training or mentoring is more likely to be effective.

3. Adopt a disciplined approach to coaching

Coaching is, in essence, about asking the right question at the right time and listening with empathy to the response. This can seem daunting at first but the great news is that there is a tried and tested framework to help you. The GROW model, originally developed by business coach Sir John Whitmore, is a powerful tool to help you structure your coaching conversation. It breaks down the conversation into four stages, helping the other person work out their Goals, explore their Reality of the situation, brainstorm Options to help them move forward and finally clarify next steps and agree what they Will action.

4. Be truly present in the moment

The secret to becoming a confident coach is to draw on your self-control to reduce interference in your head – any doubts, concerns or worries – so that you can give the other person your undivided attention.  Only then will you be able to think live in the moment, read beyond the words (after all only 7% of what we communicate comes from the spoken word) and start building trust and rapport - the hallmarks of a strong coaching relationship.

5. Keep honing your coaching skills

Becoming a confident coach doesn’t just happen overnight. Practice really does make perfect.  So, take the time to review each coaching session – ask yourself what worked well and what could be improved on.  Be brave and practise what you preach by asking for feedback to help you keep raising the bar. Another great way to develop you coaching skills is to be coached yourself – it enables you to bounce ideas of someone more experienced than yourself and reminds you what it feels like to be coached.

By following these five practical steps you will be well on your way to becoming a confident coach who can meet the changing learning and development needs of your people as your business grows and develops.