From controller to coach: coaching is replacing supervision, instruction, administration, directing as what managers do; knowledge is replacing capital as company’s most valuable asset for managers to manage:

From controller to coach: coaching is replacing supervision, instruction, administration, directing as what managers do; knowledge is replacing capital as company’s most valuable asset for managers to manage:

  • old:
    management as machine, as system; minimise idiosyncrasies of individual human behaviour
  • new:
    encourage those idiosyncrasies and harness them for good of organisation

Managing vs. Coaching

  • Managing:
    about things eg projects, materials, time, money, paperwork
  • Coaching:
    about people; none of above possible without people

Far from ‘people issues’ being a waste of time, and separate from ‘business issues’, people are the key to business success; harness individual abilities, potential, aspirations

A Coach is…

A person who guides people to winning results; helps to learn-by-doing on the job; needs to know:

  • who person is
  • what they can do
  • what their goals are
  • how to help them achieve goals

About individual people

  • need to know person and develop positive, not adversarial, relationship with them
  • mutually respectful adult-adult relationships, not adult-child encounters common in traditional hierarchies
  • each individual will respond uniquely; must know what works best with them; interactive process
  • likewise what works well in one situation may not in another
  • lack of time is no excuse to avoid coaching

A Process, Not an Event

  • building relationships takes time; you’re never ‘finished’ with coaching ; continuous 2-way process
  • but not a process in sense of batch processing with set ingredients: complex, unique, combination of skills needed
  • skilled coaches constantly look for opportunities to coach (without butting in or taking over; often spontaneous rather than planned)
  • good coaching skills take time to develop, no substitute for learning-by-doing; not always a success in every encounter; experiment with coaching style and learn by experience
  • to be truly effective, coaching must happen at every level in organisation

About Asking Open-ended Questions

  • realising you do not have all the answers all the time is major strength of an effective coach
  • asking the right questions lets coach use experience and insights of individuals and teams to improve business performance; prompts self- awareness, draws people in
  • very ego-boosting to be asked for advice; but more useful to deflect a question to the one asking; helps them work out solutions for themselves
  • open-ended coaching questions cannot be answered ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘maybe’; examples:
    • how do we solve this problem?
    • tell me about your experience with…
    • how will you achieve that?
    • have we covered everything?
    • what did you think of the meeting?
  • in order to ask the right questions, you’ve got to know how to listen…
  • use silence effectively; if coach talks too much, can block person from feeling and thinking, as well as from talking

About Failure as Much as Success

  • a person who is never wrong or has never failed has not really done very much; being great is not the same as being perfect
  • encourage risk-taking: often learn most from bad judgements/mistakes

Putting Yourself Second

  • one of the most difficult things for a ‘command and control’ manager
  • get satisfaction from success (not defeat) of other people
  • when person/team successful, coach puts them centre stage; when things go wrong, coach accepts responsibility and shields person/team

Keeping Individual and Team Focused on Goals

  • work centres on reaching goals, whether personal, team, or corporate
  • people ‘own’ their goals, and the coach doesn’t (even if they set them); more likely to get ‘buy-in’ if people involved in setting their own goals

Who can be coached

Anyone from new frontline employees to experienced top executives can benefit from coaching. Each has different starting points and needs, but same outcome: overall performance improvement and increased personal and job satisfaction.

Coaching is best seen as a conversation between peers/equals, one of whom happens to have more knowledge or skill in particular area eg it may be the case that a ‘subordinate’ coaches a ‘superior’.

When Coaching Doesn’t Work

During emergency or crisis, a benevolent dictatorship may be more effective, but only if people were coached well previously and trust built up.

Beware managers who use crisis as excuse to return to old familiar comfortable ways then treat management as a series of never-ending crises.

Benefits to the Coach

Becoming a coach can increase your own productivity:

  • no longer feel responsible for every little thing; have time to do what you need to; stress levels lower
    share responsibility for failure and success
  • more opportunities for you to become a better leader as you improve relationships with your people

Four Types of Coaching Encounters

In real world, most encounters are a mix of:

1. Counselling

Useful in dealing with attitude, behavioural, personal problems:

  • aim: redirect, get people focused back into the goals of the organisation
  • listen: get to the real cause of problem, not symptom; may need several layers of questioning
  • show you understand while keeping objective and focused
  • counselling is specific form of coaching: help someone help themselves, encourage person to ‘own’ the problem solving process, not have you solve it for them

2. Encouraging and mentoring

Useful for employees who are new to your unit, need growth, development in a specific area, or have untapped potential.

  • provide direction: show what person needs to do, where they need to go
  • share your expertise and what works for you without saying ‘this is the only right way’; many great ideas and improvements come from someone who didn’t know the so-called right way
  • nurture, draw out strengths even employee not aware of
  • give support and encouragement as person grows

3. Learning, development

Useful for

  • new employees
  • increasing performance level
  • developing new skills
  • initiating or building new teams

Generate learning through coaching by

  • developing keenness of observation: balance, good perspective
  • focusing on practical everyday problems faced in job
  • providing ongoing feedback and reinforcement; less likely to forget if regular and frequent

4. Confrontation

Difficult, uncomfortable, we don’t like it, but in extremis, must use. But only when all other coaching efforts have failed to stem undesired behaviour or situation. Even so, confrontation by coach should not be chastising/punishing:

  • ask questions: reduces conflict
  • ask opinions: reduces defences
  • gather facts: increases objectivity
  • don’t argue merits of excuses given
  • bring focus back to how to achieve solution to business problem
  • Never be confrontational just because you are simply impatient, in the mood for a fight.


Stages of One-on-one Coaching

Think of the following stages not as a closed series, but as a circle with gaps. Not all coaching uses all stages all of the time. Use core: assess, evaluate, feed back constantly. In longer term relationship eg end of year review, start of major project, you will often be going through more of these stages.

1. Initial fact-finding

  • assess where person is now: skills, attitude, satisfaction; let person describe in own words what they know; no time for you as coach to boast about your own abilities
  • make sure you’ve got it right; keep second or third hand information in proper context

2. Set the stage

  • praise what they do well
  • briefly describe the opportunity to develop skills for change improvement, project management
  • mutually agree goals and desired outcomes of coaching session

3. Define the challenge/problem

  • again, listen actively: person is the best one to define challenge/problem and get to the root cause, with your help
  • work with person to determine their goals and expectations: should be reasonable, realistic, measurable, attainable within a defined time

4. Get agreement on the facts

  • clarify and summarise as aid to understanding and agreement

5. Search for options

  • again, ask questions and listen
  • encourage person to come up with goals and solutions; guide them to other options if solutions not adequate or practical

6. Prioritise the options

  • evaluate consequences of each proposed action
  • rank in descending order of preference

7. Develop an action plan

  • determine specific steps and actions needed
  • create and encourage hands-on learning opportunities

8. Define the schedule

  • be clear on critical path and deadlines
  • don’t leave it as a ‘whenever you have time’ project

9. Praise achievements again

  • let person know specific achievements and general contribution to organisation
  • always try to leave someone on an ‘up-note’

10. Follow-up and back to step one

  • find out what person has learned and achieved
  • evaluate performance; give and receive honest assessment
  • avoid trying to persuade or argue; coaching – especially when giving feedback – is not the place for advocacy
  • practise positive discontent: let people be proud of accomplishments but never content; continually stretch them without being negative

Coaching at the Top: ABB

Goran Lindahl, VP for power transmission and distribution, sees his most important role as coach and developer of his management team. He spends 50-60% of his time communicating directly with people. Says empowerment is not overnight transfer, but gradual delegation process that needs substantial top management involvement.

Delf-assessment of Coaching Skills and Attributes

Understanding the coaching process is one thing. You must also feel it and do it, using appropriate skills and attributes. Skills are fairly easily demonstrated, practised, performed, observed. Attributes are more a question of attitudes than abilities; more difficult to assess. Both are difficult to admit to not having, but need rigorous and honest self-assessment. Start with these observable skills and attributes, having in mind particular people you intend to coach.

Tick the box that best describes your current abilities in practice (not how you feel or wish).

Performance Criteria Assessment



  • establish rapport and open communication with person (1) (2) (3)
  • clearly explain concepts, techniques, info needed(1) (2) (3)
  • give key clarification, summaries and responses at right time(1) (2) (3)
  • listen actively and positively(1) (2) (3)
  • observe alertly and accurately(1) (2) (3)
  • use appropriate questioning techniques(1) (2) (3)
  • show sensitivity and empathy to person’s thoughts and ideas(1) (2) (3)
  • give clear, concise, constructive, confidence-building feedback(1) (2) (3)
  • get acceptance and commitment to performance goals by person(1) (2) (3)
  • encourage person to accept responsibility for their own development(1) (2) (3)
  • recognise and adapt to individual learning and operating styles(1) (2) (3)
  • actively help and encourage person with special needs(1) (2) (3)



  • show patience (1) (2) (3)
  • have a sense of humour (1) (2) (3)
  • are assertive, not aggressive (1) (2) (3)
  • are firm, not domineering (1) (2) (3)
  • are knowledgeable, skilful and open to ideas (1) (2) (3)
  • are reflective and analytical (1) (2) (3)
  • demonstrate confidence and self-belief, not arrogance (1) (2) (3)
  • are able to manage emotions in yourself and others (1) (2) (3)
  • act as motivator and positive role model (1) (2) (3)

If most of your scores are:

  1. usually: you are probably a competent coach already, or not being honest with yourself
  2. sometimes: you either need to develop further or concentrate harder on applying what you already know about effective coaching
  3. rarely: some self development may not go amiss; make better use of your coach; don’t think you have or need one? why?