Manager Coaching Skills : Action Plans

actionjamolukpixabayCoaching meetings succeed when there is meaningful follow-through. Within a coaching meeting, you create a place of safety, focus and transparency. When your team member re-enters their everyday work life, structure and support are needed for results to manifest. An action plan is one way of providing that structure and support.

Action plans should suit the individual situation and be a formal agreement on how your team member will move forward on the items discussed in the coaching meeting. Goals and outcomes should be created collaboratively and fully agreed to by your team member. If there is a disciplinary or low performance issue involved, agreement is needed with the team member that they understand stretching their performance is necessary and the action plan gives them the opportunity to do so. Check-in meetings should be scheduled. As coach, you hold the goals and outcomes at all times. It’s best to not let time slip away, causing missed goals and outcomes.

When individual goals and outcomes are reached, acknowledgement and positive feedback should be given. Formal “closure” should be made when the action plan is completed. In the event of non-performance on the action plan, you can decide next steps.

Action plans are a great tool for clearly setting expectations, encouraging team members to grow and creating movement. Let action plans help fuel the development of your team.


photo: jamoluk,

Manager Coaching Skills: Encouragement

ID-10060465Encouragement is a powerful element of coaching your team. Encouragement can be employed in a variety of ways: to lift a discouraged team member, to motivate, to get a difficult message across, to build confidence or to give support or advice.

Encouragement is not a once-in-awhile thing. It should be used regularly, but not disingenuously. It can be provided one-on-one or in the presence of others. It may be in the form of words, gifts or notable mention in a document or e mail. True encouragement requires attention, emotional intelligence, empathy and observation.

Without encouragement, your team can wither. With encouragement, your team is lifted up, what you value is made known and collaboration is enhanced.


photo: digitalart,

Manager Coaching Skills: The Ability To Inspire

ID-100295019We all need inspiration, especially when we are stretching ourselves. Team members may come to coaching discouraged or unmotivated or daunted by what is expected of them. One very effective way to inspire is to lead by example. Show your team members that you are willing to do what it takes to excel and that they can too. Be a role model. Another way to inspire is to help individuals to see their strengths and the possibilities that lie before them. Show your faith in their ability to excel and face challenges. Inspire them by providing insights and suggesting strategies that help them move forward. Show your enthusiasm for their advancement.

Inspiration, by its very definition, makes someone want to do or create something they may not have considered before. Coaching is about advancement. Developing the ability to inspire is a win-win for both you and the team members that you coach.


photo: chatchai_stocker,

Manager Coaching Skills: Getting Hooked

ID-100265536When you are coaching, “issues” are bound to come up. By issues, I mean topics that evoke emotions, anxieties, strong opinions and the like in the person you are coaching or yourself. When issues are introduced, you can get “hooked” by your own reactions to them. When this happens, you as coach have to maintain an objective presence and continue your coaching with a focus on the person you are coaching, not yourself. This can be a challenging thing to do.

Of highest importance is your level of self-awareness. You need to be able to discern very quickly when your own emotions start coming into play. If you feel yourself getting hooked in a coaching conversation, pull yourself back and regroup. Find ways to do this as quickly as you can. If you find you cannot, suggest a short break. Then, return to the coaching with your focus restored. After the coaching ends, you can deal with what happened. Getting hooked serves no one and damages your effectiveness as a coach.


photo: Stuart Miles,

Manager Coaching Skills: Naming It

ID-100125070So many coaching skills involve allowing the person you are coaching to make their own discoveries and reach their own conclusions. It is important to stand back and listen, to allow coaching to progress organically and to keep your biases out of the conversation. However, the success of your coaching depends on keeping things moving.

At times, you may see that something is happening that is sabotaging or delaying the progress of the coaching. You come to the conclusion that you have to “name” what is happening. This takes skill and sensitivity. Say that someone you are coaching is playing a game with you or with themselves, either consciously or unconsciously. Examples may be that they frequently try to change the focus of conversations, use their emotions to disrupt the flow of your meetings or are fooling or are deceiving themselves in some way.

“Naming it” is a tightrope walk – being able to address something but still assuring the safety and effectiveness of the coaching space. One way to walk this tightrope is to direct your questions towards the issue and lead the person to seeing what is happening. Another is to employ your emotional intelligence and bring the issue out in the open. It may take practice, but developing the skill of “naming it” will pay off by allowing you to overcome barriers and to progress in a positive manner with your coaching.


photo: renjith krishnan,

Manager Coaching Skills: Assessing Level Of Motivation

It is challenging for change to occur without motivation. As you set your goals for coaching a team member, think about their level of motivation as they come into the coaching relationship. Are they motivated? Demotivated? What is their level of self-confidence in their skills and ability to perform? Determining this will inform your coaching strategy, as well as your initial expectations  for the success of the coaching.

Motivation is often an inside job. However, you can still provide incentives that are intended to motivate. To develop the incentives, look back on your experience with the team member and what you think will motivate them. Engage the team member around the subject of motivation by including them in setting up the goals and approach for your coaching relationship and asking them directly what motivates or demotivates them.

Examples of motivating approaches that are a win-win for you and your team member include: training or another type of skill and confidence development, praise for work well done (past or present), bonuses for results and expressing your confidence in their ability to meet the goals of your coaching.

Without assessing motivation, there’s a chance that the coaching will stall before you start. Recognizing the importance of motivation provides a significant advantage to you and your team member.

photo: artur84,

Manager Coaching Skills: “In The Moment” Coaching

Coaching works well when a “space” is created for it. Sometimes, however, coaching in the moment can result in big wins. Coaching in the moment involves taking on the coaching role at the time a coachable moment arises.

Say, you are in a meeting with a member of your team and a “situation” arises in the meeting. After the meeting at the earliest possible time, you can coach with the team member about what happened. Literally in the moment, in the meeting, you can coach by asking questions that do not put the team member on the spot.

The power of coaching in the moment lies in the freshness of the situation and its “real life” aspect.

photo: Stuart Miles,

10 Things NOT To Do When Coaching A Team Member

1. Come unprepared to the coaching meeting

2. Fail to set a time frame and agenda for the coaching meeting

3. Allow interruptions, unless they are emergencies

4. Come across as judgmental, rather than constructive

5. Try too hard to please

6. Allow the coaching to reach a point of conflict

7. Lose your focus

8. Step out of your role as coach

9. Ignore or disregard what  your team member is saying

10. End the meeting without asking your team member to set some goals to accomplish by your next coaching meeting

photo: sippakorn,

Manager Coaching Skills: Creating A Safe Space For Coaching

Coaching is most effective when the person receiving the coaching feels a level of safety. Safety allows them to speak honestly and know they will be treated fairly in the coaching relationship.

Here are some ways you can create a safe space when you are coaching a member of your team:

• Before the coaching begins, establish the intent and focus of the coaching, your expectations for their participation and your goals for the coaching.

• Ask them what their expectations are for the coaching and what you can do to make it work for them.

• Set the ground rules for your coaching sessions including how long you will coach, how long your coaching meetings will be, if they will have action items resulting from each coaching meeting and any boundaries for the coaching relationship.

• See yourself as a coach when you are meeting. Do not have side discussions about other aspects of your work together. You are there to create a space of motivation, support and encouragement for them to move forward.

• Make sure your feedback is constructive and periodically ask for their feedback on how the coaching is going for them.

• Acknowledge their progress, when warranted.

It is a delicate balance to be a person’s manager and to develop a safe coaching space. It deserves some critical thinking on your part. You can always incorporate coaching tools and techniques in your managing. However, when you enter into a coaching relationship with a team member you are in another territory and must define it. Another consideration involves the purpose of the coaching. Coaching intended to correct deficiencies and improve performance at a basic level is different than coaching to build skills or assist a team member in moving up in the organization. For some coaching, you may not be able to establish a completely safe space. Think about what safety you can and cannot offer, depending on the individual situation.

With safety a part of it, coaching can be a powerful tool helping managers and their teams to excel.

photo: Vencib |


Manager Coaching Skills: Keeping The Focus On Them

When coaching a team member, it may seem elementary to say keep the focus on them. In practice, however, you can easily drift away. What does keeping the focus on them in your coaching entail?

• Accepting that the coaching session is all about the person you are coaching, not about you or others in your team

• Actively listening to what they are saying and also hearing what is not being said. For example, by being aware of their body language

• Only bringing in stories or examples that are directly relevant to where you are leading the conversation (it is sometimes hard not to want to relate your own similar experiences, but this is about them and such stories or examples have to further the direction you want to go in as a coach or they can be a distraction for both of you)

• Being very clear for yourself on what the purpose, goals and desired outcome of the coaching relationship are and what benefits you want it to bring to them, your team and your organization

By keeping the focus on the person you are coaching, you will greatly enhance the probability of a successful coaching relationship and great results for both of you.


photo: digitalart,