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How do I coach my team members?

Updated on November 30, 2012

How do I coach my team members? If I am a manager, how do I coach my team leaders or supervisors? If I am a supervisor how do I coach my team members?

First, it’s important to establish the coaching objective – you might ask: whose objective, your objective or the coachee’s objective? It’s important to note that coaching is coachee centered, not coach centered. The coach must be free of his own agenda and let the coachee drive the agenda. As a manager, you may have an idea of a development need by the coachee. However, in order to foster responsibility and ownership in the coachee towards the goal, the goal should be framed by the coachee. You may suggest a coaching goal but ask the coachee if he agrees and to frame it in his own words. For example, your coachee’s objective could be to improve his interpersonal skills in dealing with his own staff.

It’s helpful to look distinguish 2 different coaching approaches – direct coaching and supportive coaching1. Direct coaching is about developing skills and instructing in nature where the coach provides more input, direction and guidance in developing the coachee’s skills. For example, explaining the most efficient way to perform a task or developing specific skills in area of expertise. It’s used mainly to coach people who are inexperienced or whose performance needs immediate improvement. Supportive coaching on the other hand is about facilitating problem solving, encouraging others to learn on their own or serving as a resource for the coachee to solve the problem himself.

When it comes to creating a coaching goal, be very clear what the objective is. An objective to improve performance is not clear enough. It has to be as SMART as possible. SMART as you may know stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time bound.

Secondly, have a coaching model in your head – GROW is a generic model that is very practical. GROW stands for Goals, Reality, Options and Way forward

Goals (What does the coachee want to achieve?)

Reality (What is happening now?)

Options (What could we do about it?)

Way forward (What will we do about it)

GROW provides a structure and process for the coaching relationship. A single coaching conversation could cover all 4 elements. You could trigger the coaching relationship by looking out for coaching opportunities, which could come from your observation of your team member. Initiate a discussion and check that there is agreement by the coachee to be coached by you. More on this on coaching mindset below.

There are a number of skills you will need to hone to improve your coaching ability. Before starting to coach, it is highly recommended that you enrol in a coaching workshop or training to prepare yourself to coach. Two fundamental skills will be highlighted:

1. Listening skills (you can click on to get further information after you've read this article)

2. Questioning skills
(you can click on to get further information after you've read this article)

Before plunging into learning skills, an even more important thing to note is your mindset when you put on your coaching hat. Your mindset as a coach will be your guide when you coach someone else. Mindset is the mental model and your beliefs as a coach. What is the mindset of a coach? These are a few mindsets essential mindsets of a coach


1. Coaching is not evaluation – it’s important that you believe in this and demonstrate this and make it explicit when interacting with the person you are coaching. This will help build trust because a very common barrier to coaching is the lack of trust by the coachee to be fully open with the coach. This is why coaching by an immediate superior may be less open because the coachee is less willing to disclose potential gaps to the immediate supervisor. To address such problems, a pool of coaches can be created for coaches to tap onto.

2. Coaching is about drawing out, not putting in – this will guide you to be conscious about asking questions instead of giving answers or your opinions. In order to draw out coachee’s own experience, the coach has to ask questions to draw out the coachee’s own thinking and beliefs about situations.

3. Coaching is about creating coachee awareness and responsibility. The coach uses skills like questioning or reflecting to raise coachee’s awareness. When there is awareness, the coachee is able to perceive different choices, which can then lead to change. The coaching process is also built around fostering coachee’s responsibility and accountability for the coaching outcome. Instead of telling the coachee what to do, the coach builds coachee’s responsibility in goal setting and action planning.

4. Be aware of your own agenda, opinions and beliefs – as the coach, it’s important to be aware of your own bias, opinions and beliefs. Your beliefs formed from your experience may not work for the coachee, or may not be relevant in the coachee’s situation. Being aware of your own beliefs will help you be detached and focus on the coachee.

1 Performance Management - Harvard Business Essentials by Richard Lueke


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