Coaching and Developing Others

5 Tips for Internal Coaches: Essential Management Skills

Based on over 20 years of experience developing the capacity of organisations to bring coaching into their management and leadership we have compiled 5 tips that will help you get more value from coaching in your organisation.

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    Tip 1: Differentiate coaching from your other roles

    If you think what you are doing is coaching and you have not been trained to coach then what you are doing is probably not coaching. In fact, most 1 and 2 day coach training programmes are designed to help managers and leaders to learn and (hopefully use) the “skills of a coach” and not necessarily to coach people for development.  A coaching “style” or approach to managing people is effective and useful when applied to the right people in the right situation. However, it will not get the same results as developmental coaching.

    If you are not trained to coach, then you won’t get the results that coaching promises.

    If you want results then the skills, tools and mindset of a coach must be present. The best coach training will include mentor coaching, feedback, competency development, assessment, supportive learning and capability building. It’s harder than you imagine to make the paradigm shifts required to apply coaching skills effectively as a leader or a manager. Here are a few of the key paradigm shifts that we support coaches to make:

    • From telling to asking
    • From solving problems to co-creating solutions
    • From horizontal to vertical development
    • From expert to enabler
    • From taking ownership to supporting others to own what they need to
    • From not trusting to trusting
    • From distracted listening to actual listening and presence
    • From managing people as a resource to developing resourceful people

    The final shift is the most difficult: to remain focused and aware, in the moment of choice, of how you want to show up, what your direct report wants and needs and what the organisation wants and needs. These are not easily learned, developed and consistently applied. If you want to add life changing coaching skills to your repertoire, then get trained to coach!

    Tip 2: Leverage the power of self-reflection for self-management

    In our experience, we are involved in the training and development of Internal Coaches from three broad areas within organisations. Each type has their own unique challenges and needs as they develop as coaches: 

    1. Executives
      •  struggle with assuming the role of leader and creating space for others to develop
    2. Business leaders and managers
      • struggle with moving beyond telling, over-managing and problem solving
    3. Human Resources and Learning and Development Professionals –  leaders and managers
      • struggle with moving past helping, advising and advocacy

    The impact of all these behaviours, habits and ways of thinking is the same: they reduce empowerment.

    The good news is that all of these behaviours can be unlearned through feedback, self-awareness and intentional development. The tool of reflection is useful in helping to create awareness of the impact of these tendencies. Self-reflection offers the most efficient pathway for continuous growth and self-management.

    What follows is a simple reflection around the area of increasing or decreasing dependence. Set aside a few minutes, manage your distractions and follow this process:

    Call to mind all the people you coach or use coaching skills with, think about their level of dependence on you, are they becoming more or less dependent on you for solutions, help, support or advice?

    If the answer is a firm “Yes!” then congratulate yourself and think about how you can help to develop them in the new ways that will be opening up for them.

    If the answer is anything other than an emphatic “Yes!” then self diagnose by answering these questions honestly.

    Is your mindset an other-centric mindset characterised by authentic belief that your coaching client has the answers and ability to solve their problems and develop themselves?

    Are you using questioning skills to create ownership, accountability and responsibility?

    Take a look at the materials from the coaching skills training you received and review the parts that focus on the mindset of a coach. 

    If you are serious about developing then consider seeking out advanced coach training, coaching supervision/mentor coaching or assessment (that includes feedback from a coach education professional). The best internal and external coaches are constantly deepening and developing their coaching competencies.

    Tip 3: Stop multitasking and start multi-targeting

    Getting things done is not enough. Two birds with one stone simply does not measure up. The existing paradigm is “get the result… AND”. The ubiquitous “and” represents any number of facets of the desired “result.” Increase production “and” reduce costs, hit sales targets “and” succession plan, develop competences, drive values, satisfy customers, create loyalty, innovate, these and many other results to attend to bombard our daily lives as leaders and managers. “And” this is a place where coaching adds massive value.

    First of all, it is much more effective when coaching is not an “and”, as in “and on top of all that, they want me to coach”. Coaching is not an additional thing; it is a powerful approach to multi-targeting.

    Secondly, get over the idea that multitasking is useful or even possible. Neuroscience has clearly exposed the myth that the brain is able to consciously attend to more than one thing at one time. Multitaskers are good at shifting attention, which works with tasks that require minimal focus. It is, however, tiring and ineffective. And it is simply impossible with tasks that require higher levels of focus.

    Thirdly, develop your competency as an internal coach to explore with teams or individuals, how they can achieve multiple results and aim for multiple results when coaching.

    Multitargeting requires the ability to maintain focus on achieving a number of strategic targets without experiencing tension.

    This can be when you are doing something, speaking with someone or participating in meetings. Develop the ability to hold in your mind the possible results that can be achieved, actively listen for openings, opportunities and potential and then develop empowering questioning skills to move your staff to develop “ways of doing and thinking” that hit multiple targets.

    Some examples:

    Our company is emphasising innovation, where do you see opportunities in this project to innovate?

    Is there anyone on your team that would be ready to be challenged with additional responsibility on this one? Then listen. After listening, simply ask, “Why is that?” Listen for perspective not justification.

    What parts of this problem/ project/ situation can you take ownership of?

    Let’s approach this with multiple perspectives. What are the targets currently important to us that apply in this situation? What are the implications for us?

    How can we do this in a way that achieves customer satisfaction? Preserves security? Reduces costs? Is inclusive? Increases profitability? Champions our values?

    Asking questions like this and listening to the answers is multi-targeting in action and by doing it you will:

    • Remind yourself of the targets and develop your ability to attend to them
    • Spread the vision and share the load, for the long term
    • Create the expectation that thinking like this is valuable
    • Observe lateral thinking or lack of it, in your team or yourself
    • Develop your talent
    • Create ownership

    When you are using multi-target coaching, you will discover it will seriously challenge your own ability to focus, listen differently and expand your capacity to navigate the strategic thinking zone. This is an essential skill for developing the competency of strategic focus. Begin by reflectively thinking, broadly, about all the facets of daily tasks, projects and even conflicting requirements. Resist trying to figure out how to achieve them and instead develop questions that you can ask that will create the opportunity for multiple outcomes to happen. This is easier than you think; the questions that arise in your own mind are the raw material for questions that you can tailor for your team.

    Tip 4: Choose your mindset with intention

    To make the shift to a coaching style of leadership or even to utilise the skills of a coach in your role as a manager requires a significant mindset change. Before you can change it, you need to recognise that you have a choice. The mindset that you have is not your default setting. Your mindset is a complex collection of choices about how you think about yourself, others, your role, the organisation, work, intelligence, other people’s contributions, values, patterns, priorities, process emotions and how you think about thinking.

    Your mindset shows up in every interaction, decision and response in your day. Coaches within organisations cultivate a mindset characterised by a belief that others are capable of learning and development. Each interaction is an opportunity to move closer to sustainable success for others, yourself and the organisation. Choosing this developmental mindset means letting go of other self or employee limiting mindsets.

    Next time you have an opportunity to engage with someone you work with ask yourself a few questions:

    1. How am I thinking about this person?
    2. What do I need to do to shift to a developmental mindset?
    3. Am I willing to let go of a potentially limiting mindset and replace it with …?

    Tip 5: Continuously Improve

    The role of internal coaches is increasing and organisations are continuing to invest more resources in their development and support. Within our Professional Coach training programmes we have a growing number of internal coaches seeking certification and credentials. 

    This is a growing trend and coaching within organisations is gaining credibility and expectations are increasing. Demand will continue to grow. 

    Coaches who continue to move toward coaching excellence will become increasingly valued members of organisations and set themselves up for success should they choose to become a professional coach when leaving an organisation.

    Some Ways to Continuously Improve

    1. Get credentialed – more and more internal coaches are seeking coaching accreditation. The measurable fact that you have achieved an international standard demonstrates your commitment to creating value through coaching
    2. Coaching Supervision/Mentor Coaching – As trained supervisors and highly experienced mentor coaches, we combine the value created by these two roles. This is a cost effective, professional and dynamic relationship which supports coaches in as they develop in areas of awareness, ethics, learning, growth, contexts, techniques, culture, relationships and systems
    3. Advanced Coach Training – learn from other perspectives, become a team coach, develop skills with emotions, values, vertical development, create resilience and well-being or specialise in some area that gives you meaning and creates value

    The most effective professional coaches and leaders are dedicated to continuous improvement.

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