Coaching – What Can Go Wrong?

April 24, 2015  |   Executive Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

It is very much in vogue these days for Managers to say they have a coaching style of leadership, or that they believe it is important to coach their staff. The purpose of this article is to consider some of the things that seem to go wrong in coaching for Managers. The views expressed here are based on interviews with over 100 Managers on their experiences of coaching.

8 Common Coaching Pitfalls

  • Coaching is showing people how to do things. Well actually it’s not. It’s more about helping an individual find their own solution to issues and problems. If you are showing people how to do things it’s more likely you are training them
  • Coaching is not telling people what to do, it’s recommending an approach for them to consider based on your experience. Sounds like you are acting as a consultant, or maybe a mentor, rather than a coach. Coaches do not recommend how to do things unless there is a specific reason that it would help a client
  • Time was short so I ended up telling the person what to do. If you have been trained a coaching conversation can be done anywhere and take no more than 2 minutes. To be fair that does depend a bit on the topic. But time is not a reason for failing to coach
  • Coaching is about asking some questions to get the other person to your point of view. In coaching you don’t ask leading questions and you definitely do not manipulate someone to your viewpoint
  • I need a standard list of questions to enable me to coach effectively. There are some questions you might ask fairly often but there is no such list. Coaching questions are related to the conversation you have with each individual and as you know they are all different
  • If there is no list of standard questions how can you coach? Coaching is about enabling the person with whom you are working to see things from a fresh and different perspective. In that way they can find their own solutions. So there are a number of good coaching frameworks that describe the different steps in the process. But no standard list of questions
  • I give advice in a sympathetic way but people just don’t do anything with it. As Carl Jung said ‘giving advice is a doubtful remedy, but not dangerous since it has so little effect’. A medical study showed recently that if heart specialists tell their at risk patients they will die unless they change their lifestyle – diet, smoking, exercise, only 1 in 7 is actually able to make the change. You have to assume the other 6 don’t want to die! People often do not react well to advice, however well meaning
  • I am sometimes waiting to speak rather than listening. This is a common problem. In coaching you have to listen in a very active way. That’s not just what’s said but what isn’t said as well

All the pitfalls and misunderstandings above can be overcome. It takes some training, education and a lot of practice. Even as a professional coach it’s easy to fall into some of the traps. That’s why any decent coach will have a coaching supervisor to help in their development.

 

 

Tony Goddard

Executive Coach

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