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How to Become a Balanced Workplace Coach

What is balanced coaching? Balanced coaching is recognizing that there are two sides (a positive and negative) to every interaction. It is about being sensitive to the nuances of those interactions. That is to say, being sensitive to how you perceive and are being perceived by the recipient.

Work Coaching – A Nuanced Proposition

Yael Bacharach, in an article for Inc., offers four tidbits of straightforward advice that touch upon the positive and negative aspects of workplace coaching:

  1. Cheering vs. shouting
  2. Sponsoring vs. micromanaging
  3. Counseling vs. conspiring
  4. Educating vs. indoctrinating

Be encouraging, especially when they need an extra boost to overcome difficulties or frustrations. If the cheering on becomes too assertive, they’ll suspect that you’re trying to push them beyond their capabilities. Just keep in mind that cheering to motivate is different from cheering to celebrate.

Support is a bit different from encouragement (though support can be encouraging and encouragement can certainly make one feel supported). The key distinction is that of direction. A well supported team member will be comfortable navigating the organizational terrain. But don’t be the boss who puts their hands on the steering wheel. Instead, point out organizational landmarks and hazards whenever possible.

In order to empathize with your protégé, you must know how to “walk a day in their shoes.” If they are causing trouble amongst their peers or not seeing eye-to-eye with you or other management, don’t be ashamed to pull them aside for advice or to learn about the situation. But be careful not to empathize to the point that you find yourself taking sides.

Finally, always remember your primary role as a mentor. A mentor is someone who passes on skills or knowledge to someone who lacks those assets. This relationship always entails a degree of authority. If the recipient of coaching sees that you are trying to improve their status, they will be all ears. If they perceive that you are merely using the relationship as an opportunity to flaunt your superiority, then all channels will effectively be shut.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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