Project LeadershipProject Management

How to Become a Better Coach to Your Team Members

When you make an honest-to-goodness effort to help your team members improve, they notice, and they appreciate it. Or at the very least, they appreciate it when you actually do a good job of it. Toward that end, in a post at her website, project leadership coach Susanne Madsen discusses a few potent tips for becoming a better coach.

Coaching for Specific Effect

First of all, it is important to understand the difference between giving advice and actually coaching. When you give advice, you are doing the problem-solving for the other person, e.g., “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. In that situation, I did x, y, and z.” While that can certainly be useful information, it is not always as effective as genuine coaching, where you empower a person to find his or her own solutions to a problem. When should you use one or the other? Well, if there is a clear and direct answer to a problem, then be direct with advice. Otherwise, coach. And about how coaching works exactly, Madsen says this:

It’s about helping the person in front of you to see a given situation in a clearer light so that they feel empowered to take the next steps. This means that the person you’re coaching gains a better understanding of what the real problem is, what the options are for solving the problem and what action they can take to overcome it. The way in which you can help a team member gain this insight is to ask lots of open questions[.]

Asking open-ended questions like “What do you feel is wrong?” or “What would you like the outcome of this meeting to be?” allows you to understand the other person’s perspective better. It also requires that person to better formulate his or her own position on things. The act of discussion alone should begin to unlock usable insights. But try to focus on “what” or “how” questions as opposed to “why” questions; “why” questions typically make people get defensive.

Lastly, Madsen recommends trying to make coaching a natural part of your leadership style. The more often you coach, the more organic and effective it will become. And then you will want to coach even more!

You can view the original post (and an accompanying video) here:

John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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