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Are your employees constantly asking you questions? Do you sometimes feel like ‘Ask Google’ rather than a manager and leader? The good news is that adopting a coaching approach will not only spare you from feeling like the office search engine but also free up your time, foster collaboration, and drive sustainable growth. However, transitioning from manager to coach can be a challenge for many managers.

Using coaching as a leadership style when managing your team member involves encouraging employees to think through challenges, explore all the options and develop their own solutions. By supporting them in identifying solutions, they develop skills quicker, become more confident and learn to self-manage.

Shifting your mindset from giving instructions to a coaching style takes effort and time, but you will see employee engagement and performance sore if done well. Although a coaching style takes longer than a more directive management style, the results have a greater impact over the long term.

Here are our 11 essential tips to help you develop your coaching skills.

1. Empower Your Employees Through Coaching

Rather than serving answers on a silver platter, coaching encourages them to explore and uncover solutions independently. Promoting autonomy and independent decision-making will nurture your teams’ problem-solving skills and boost confidence, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.

Remember, your team members are knowledgeable and experienced, often knowing the answer or possessing the means to find it. By employing a coaching approach, you help them realise their own capabilities, increasing self-reliance. As a coach, you’re not just leading a team; you’re sparking self-discovery within each member, enabling them to tap into their innate potential.

2. Coaching: It’s About Asking, Not Telling

Developing your coaching skills requires a change in your communication style. Instead of providing answers, use thought-provoking questions. Effective questioning is a coaching skill that engages your team and encourages them to think critically, take ownership, and arrive at their own solutions. It fosters learning and development that sticks rather than temporary compliance.

When an employee comes to you with a problem, ask, “What do you believe would be the best approach in this situation?” This question empowers them to use their own insights and answers, which they may already possess but need confirmation, or it might highlight a training need. By adopting this inquiry-based approach, you’re guiding your team and equipping them with the tools for self-directed growth.

3. Prioritise Active Listening

Active listening skills are important for any leader or manager. However, for a coach, they are crucial. Active listening is a conscious effort to hear the words another person is saying and, more importantly, truly understand their perspective. It involves setting aside preconceived ideas or judgments and focusing solely on the speaker’s words and non-verbal cues.

Active listening is vital in creating a safe space for open and honest communication. When people feel supported, they are more comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and aspirations.

Check out our article, “How Active Listening Can Transform Your Communication Skills,” to enhance your coaching skills.

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4. Focus on Individual Strengths

A crucial part of coaching is recognising and nurturing your team’s unique skills and talents. An effective coach understands that every team member is distinct, with different abilities and areas of expertise. Assigning tasks aligned with these strengths optimises productivity and builds confidence and satisfaction. This tailored approach fuels their professional growth and commitment to the team, significantly improving job retention.

In addition, by focusing on individual strengths, you’re not just managing employees but cultivating a team of diverse talents, each contributing uniquely to the collective whole.

5. Develop a Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset is vital to successfully transitioning from manager to coach. This involves encouraging them to embrace challenges and helping them to see mistakes and setbacks not as failures but as valuable learning opportunities. This shift in perspective motivates employees to step out of their comfort zones, adopt a positive approach to problem-solving, and persist despite obstacles. As you embrace this growth-oriented thinking, you unlock potential, foster innovation, and drive your team towards greater success.

6. Foster a Positive Environment

Creating a positive work environment is a vital responsibility of a coach. It increases motivation, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. Create a culture that thrives on positivity, respect, and appreciation. Instil a sense of camaraderie and solidarity, fostering a supportive community where everyone feels valued.

Celebrate milestones, no matter how small, and publicly acknowledge individual contributions to instil a sense of achievement and belonging. Encourage open dialogue, promote empathy, and ensure each team member knows you are their ally, guide, and champion.

7. Make Feedback a Two-Way Street

Feedback is the lifeblood of coaching and should flow freely in all directions. As a coach, encourage a culture of candid, constructive feedback from you to your team members, peers, and back to you. This reciprocal communication fosters continuous learning and shows your team that everyone’s input is valuable in enhancing performance.

Feedback highlights areas of improvement, showcases successes, and enables the identification of training needs. By welcoming feedback about your own performance, you demonstrate humility and a commitment to personal growth, setting a powerful example for your team. Embrace this culture of bidirectional feedback and watch as your team accelerates on their path to improvement and success.

8. Practice Patience

Transitioning from manager to coach is a marathon, not a sprint. This shift demands unlearning ingrained management behaviours and adopting a fresh coaching mindset, which requires time and patience. As you navigate unfamiliar territory, expect challenges and missteps along the way, both from yourself and your team. Be patient with this process. Consider every stumble a stepping stone, and remember that lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. This journey is not merely about reaching the destination but appreciating the growth that comes with the journey. Foster a spirit of patience and persistence, and watch as these seeds of change bloom into a transformational coaching culture.

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9. Invest in Training

Continuous learning is key to becoming an effective coach. Invest time and resources in enhancing your coaching skills. This could involve formal coaching training programmes, reading books, or seeking mentorship from experienced coaches.

In coaching, the learning curve is continuous and ever-evolving, keeping you on your toes and expanding your toolkit. As a coach, your dedication to ongoing learning is an investment in your growth and a powerful message to your team about the value of education and self-improvement.

10. Manage Expectations

When adapting your style as a manager, open communication will be your greatest ally. Before embarking on this journey, preparing your team for the shift is important. The sudden transition from a directive management style to a coaching approach can be unsettling. To avoid this, clearly articulate what coaching entails, its benefits, and the potential challenges. Invite team members to share their thoughts, concerns, and queries about coaching. This transparency alleviates apprehension and encourages buy-in.

Remember, the path from manager to coach is one that you and your team tread together, fostering a culture of mutual growth and empowerment.

11. Lead by Example

Lastly, embodying the qualities you aim to foster in your team is paramount to effectively transitioning from manager to coach. Model resilience and show them that setbacks are just stepping stones towards growth. Exhibit curiosity, fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation. Embrace humility, demonstrating that all team member’s ideas are valuable and that we all have something to learn. Showcase perseverance, inspiring them to stay the course even in the face of adversity. Your actions and attitudes speak louder than your words ever could. As a coach, you’re not just instructing; you’re illustrating. Lead by example, and watch as your team mirrors these qualities, shaping a resilient, curious, humble, and determined team equipped for success.

Transitioning from manager to coach is a journey of personal and professional development. It requires high self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and commitment to your team’s growth. It’s about building leaders, not just followers. As you embark on this journey, remember that the road may be challenging, but the rewards – team growth, engagement, and performance – can be substantial.

If you’d like to discuss how Delphinium can help you develop your leadership and coaching skills as a manager, contact us to see how we can help.

Author: Gemma Rolstone | Published 31st July 2023.