inspiring outstanding leaders

Come to me with solutions instead of problems

In Uncategorized on 2 November 2009 at 9:51 pm

Incorporating coaching into my management style is having benefits to me, my team and the business as a whole. I am still working to move away from my natural telling/’fix it’ mode towards active listening and questioning, but I am already seeing some amazing results in both individuals and in the team dynamics.

Self sufficiency: My team no longer requires me to be involved in every decision that needs to be made. This was clearly demonstrated when I went on holiday for two weeks and didn’t get a single phone call or urgent e-mail from my team through the whole trip.

Awareness: I am finding that my team leaders, in particular, are more aware of the ‘bigger picture, which has resulted in them setting their own priorities and starting to drive change themselves.

Learning opportunities: Coaching, by its very nature, opens up a world of learning for all parties in a coaching conversation.

Deeper listening: My team know that their ideas will be listened to and that, if they fit with the team and/or business needs then I will support them to make them a reality.

“If managers listen to their people and act on what they hear, employees will be happier and perform better and staff turnover will plummet” Coaching for Performance: John Whitmore

Whether coaching results in a lower turnover of my team has yet to be seen, but I am already seeing that my team feel valued and are comfortable speaking out. I have also been delighted that individuals are learning so much in their current role that they want to stay where they are rather than seeking promotion out of my team.

Responsibility and ownership: Through delegation my team have more responsibility and ownership for activities and I am finding that this choice and control does result in a better job, even if it is not the way that I would have directed an action be performed.

The changes I have made in my day to day activities include dedicating at least an hour each week to each of my direct reports to talk about what they want to talk about, actively supporting ideas that my team have and giving lots of positive feedback on the impact of their actions. Rather than going into my default ´fix it´ mode I am slowly shifting towards the ´So, what do you suggest…?´ or ´What would you like to do first…?´ line of questioning. With some amazing results.

“Instead of giving answers, I turned the tables and asked the questions myself, trying to make them repossess their own problems” Coaching for Performance: John Whitmore

I am also delegating in a different way. Before I would describe the activity that I needed doing in detail to ensure that the team member did it the way I wanted it doing. Now what I do is describe the output I need and get them to give me a date by when they can achieve them. When they give me a date I put a reminder in my calendar to ensure that I am expecting the deliverable and chase if required.

My ‘hands off’ approach is having impacts that I wasn’t prepared for. I was caught off guard last week, when I was trying to hurry up a priority identifying and ranking meeting. I slipped into trying to dictate the order that the priorities should be worked through and got a very interesting reaction. My team wanted to do it their way and didn’t want me to ´manage´ this part of the process. I was unprepared for this because they do listen and take on board my feedback really well.
On reflection my team’s reaction was a good thing and my hurry and negative reaction was because I was in a rush to start my 2.5 hour drive home while it was still light. I realize that I was trying to ´meddle´ with a decision that it was completely unnecessary for me to meddle in and, if I had succeeded, then it might have had a detrimental effect on getting the jobs done as it is my team and not me that are doing the work on these priorities!


The next step for me is to encourage a coaching culture within my team. I have seen the motivating effects that coaching can have on individuals and I am eager for my whole team to experience this. I can see this being harder than changing myself, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

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