Coaching practices


Last Modified  15 August 2016

Suggested steps - Step 1
Introduce the tool and ask managers to read the handout on coaching.
Step 2
The sets of questions listed in the handout will help managers in each of the four phases of the coaching process. Managers can use the spaces provided in the handout to write in additional questions in their own words.

Step 3
If managers have not had coaching experience, the best person to practise with is one of their colleagues who also wishes to improve their coaching skills. If they can also find a third person to observe and give them feedback afterwards, so much the better.

First, managers should ask the person to be coached to explain a development goal they would like to achieve. They should fill in their response in the space in the Coaching questions handout.
Step 4
Now managers should follow the four phases of the coaching process one by one to help the person explore how they can achieve this goal. Spend approximately 20-30 minutes in total on the four phases.

Hints and tips:
  • Probe at length the person's view of 'Destination'.
  • Encourage the person to visualise success.
  • Try to avoid making suggestions and giving advice.
  • Keep the person focused on their behaviour rather than on that of others.
  • Give the person plenty of time to think and respond.
  • As a guide, 90% them talking, 10% you.
  • Challenge the person to be ambitious.
  • Ask the person to explore the consequences of their ideas for action.
  • Listen for clues as to problems or ideas.
  • Keep control of the process (keep on track).
  • Summarise frequently.
Step 5
When the session is complete, managers should ask the person being coached (and the observer, if you have one) to give them feedback by answering the following questions:
  • What did they like about your approach?
  • What helped the person being coached?
  • What would they like you to have done differently?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would they rate your:
    • questioning (and why)
    • listening (and why)
    • summarising (and why)
    • control (and why)?
    • What did you learn from this practice coaching session?
Managers should use the feedback received to adapt their approach during their next coaching session.
Getting the most out of this tool
To get the most from this activity, managers should:
  • Discuss the content of the notes with their colleagues before carrying out the coaching practice.
  • Repeat the practice session several times with the same person and with different people. They will improve substantially with practice and feedback.
  • Maximise the amount of feedback they can get.
  • Try to hold back any suggestions they have for the person being coached, especially in the early practice sessions.
  • Be prepared to move away from the questions they have prepared if it seems appropriate.
  • Spend more time than they first think is necessary on the 'Destination' part of the conversation - this often leads to some surprising conclusions.
  • Probe the person being coached if they are giving super?cial responses. It is okay to make the person feel uncomfortable! Their role as coach is partly to challenge them.
Follow-up activities
One option is to agree to provide coaching for the manager. This could be done by telephone or face to face, depending on the time available.

Carry out the same activity with different colleagues.

Consider bringing together a group of managers to carry out several coaching practice sessions in a two-hour 'workshop'.

For those who want more practice at coaching, explore other development options.
Managers should hold a brief discussion with their colleague at the end of the practice session to review the value:
  • What did you find useful?
  • What was the most difficult part?
  • Which behaviours were you good at?
  • Which behaviours do you need to work at?
  • Which members of your team do you have an opportunity to coach?
  • When will you practise again?
  • Who else can you practise with and receive feedback from?
Hold a discussion with the managers involved in the practice session: What went well? What could be improved before carrying out the activity again? How could the activity be changed to fit our organisation better? Who else could you run this activity with? Which of your team members would benefit from carrying out this activity? What would you do differently next time? How could I (the HR professional) have helped more? In summary, what did you learn from the activity?