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.
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