Are You Too Busy To Coach Your Employees?

Here’s How to Get Started Without Cramping Your Schedule.

Managers have lots of reasons for not coaching their employees. Lack of time tops the list. But if an over-stuffed schedule is your problem, you need to coach your team more than ever. It’s the best way to motivate and prepare employees to take on more responsibility. Here’s how to get started with a simple structure and 10 minutes.

Understand the value of coaching.

Before you decide whether to make coaching a priority, take a look at what it can do for your team. Research into the effectiveness of business coaching has found that it offers significant benefits.

Self-efficacy, in particular, has been shown to impact work performance significantly.

Use a simple plan for quick, effective coaching sessions.

On top of having plenty of other demands on your time, you may not know what coaching entails. Who has time to figure it out? That’s where Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit, can help.

He’s observed that people often don’t know what’s expected of them as coaches. They think it’s a touchy-feely interaction they’re not well-suited for. Or they feel compelled as managers to give directions rather than help employees find their own solutions.

So he created an easy template you can follow for a 10-minute coaching session. Simply ask these questions:

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. And what else?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. How can I help?
  6. If you’re saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?
  7. What was most useful to you?

Sticking with these inquiries helps you refrain from jumping in with advice and directions too early. The questions guide coachees to their own conclusions, which is the point of the meeting.

If you and your employee stay focused, you can cover a problem, create a plan to address it, and finish up in a few minutes. Then, you can follow up the next week to see how well the plan worked and start the list of questions over.

A coaching conversation can range from daily technical matters to long-term career goals. It just depends on what any given person needs.

Get some coaching for yourself.

Obviously, your conversation will stray off-script sometimes, which is why HR Expert Toni Young suggests that coaches should have coaches when they’re first getting started.

Young writes, “The reason I favor this approach with my clients is that the experience and coaching opportunities are specific to their industry, rather than generic coaching methods that are taught traditionally.”

If you have colleagues who already coach their teams, ask them to help you. Or give your manager the 7-question list and ask him or her to meet with you. You’ll get a good sense of how it feels to be the coachee, which will make you a better coach.

Start the habit before there are problems.

Bruce Tulgan, the founder of Rainmaker Thinking, also advises setting up a coaching habit with employees before performance issues pop up. He writes, “By the time a problem is recurring, it is too late to start coaching. The time to coach an employee is in advance so you can set her up for success.”

The coaching lays the foundation of trust between manager and employee. It can increase employee engagement, which helps avoid many performance problems in the first place. And if an issue does come up, the team leader has a good foundational relationship to work from.

Consider how much time you can free up if you avoid employee problems or handle them faster because you’ve developed a foundation of trust.

Make coaching a 2017 management goal.

Coaches don’t have to be natural leaders or strongly empathetic people. You just have to be willing to step back, ask questions, and take a sincere interest in people’s goals and challenges.

Oh, and you have to find 10 free minutes a day to do it. In terms of taking your business forward, that could be the best 10 minutes on your schedule.


Carol Bleyle
Carol Bleyle
CAROL handles client services and marketing for Software, a training platform designed to promote experiential, on-the-job learning and development. She works to realize the vision of turning the 70% of informal learning we do at work into a powerful training and development tool. With an M.A. in Cognitive Linguistics from the University of California at Berkeley, Carol views skills development through the lens of cognitive science and psychology And over the past 23 years, whether in traditional classrooms or on-the-go mentoring in her own company, Carol has constantly searched for realistic ways to make learning more natural and engaging. As a writer, trainer, consultant, entrepreneur and public speaker, Carol helps business owners find practical solutions to employee performance. She and her husband reside in beautiful Loudoun County Virginia with three energetic dogs and two lazy horses.

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