How to apply a coaching approach to management

Research shows that managers who apply a coaching approach to management can transform the overall performance of their team. It’s a form of management that encourages mutual support, goal-setting and positive company culture. This not only helps to empower staff but also creates more reflective and self-aware managers.

The coaching approach to management has grown in popularity across all kinds of organisations over the past three decades. Organisations that implement coaching management styles have been shown repeatedly to perform better than those that don’t.

Similarly, a coaching approach can help individual employees become more effective in their roles. Increasingly, coaching ability is one of the key skills that employers look for when recruiting frontline managers.

What is the coaching approach, how does it differ from the old approach, and what benefits can it deliver?

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Problems with the old approach

A top-down, traditional managerial approach is now widely recognised as being ineffective. Traditionally, managers tended to focus on performance and deliverable results. While effective managers could deliver some results using this approach, all too often the potential individuals and the business as a whole were neglected.

The traditional approach can leave employees feeling disempowered as it suppresses their own inner drive to improve and progress.

Understanding a coaching approach

The Association for Coaching defines coaching as "a facilitated, dialogic, and reflective learning process that aims to grow an individual's awareness, responsibility, and choice."

In practice, this means that a coaching approach to management places an emphasis on helping individuals to identify their own resources, and then find their own answers and solutions.

A coaching approach is curious and collaborative. It asks questions and seeks the opinions of team members, rather than being didactic. It is a supportive style of management, that provides a safe space for people to set goals and stretch themselves. It also understands that failure might be a step along the way to success if key support is in place.

Managers who use a coaching approach know how to ask powerful questions and listen actively. They effectively guide conversations, are always patient and provide regular and honest feedback. There is a collaboration between managers and their teams, and employee ideas are sought and supported. When something goes wrong, it is self-reflective rather than judgement, and invest time in working through what should be done differently next time.

A coaching style of management doesn’t provide team members with all of the answers, nor does it seek to limit their scope for self-direction. Coaching managers seek to empower their teams to become more self-directed in their roles.

What are the benefits of a coaching approach for organisations?

Organisations that adopt a coaching approach to management transform their working environments. The workplace becomes more positive and open, helping people feel valued while improving their services for the communities that they work with.

The working environment becomes motivated and supportive. It becomes a place where it is safe to be open and honest, which in turn can provide valuable insights and ideas for how the service and performance of the business can be improved.

If people within the organisation can speak frankly, there’s less risk of problems being hidden or tensions being allowed to develop. A coaching approach provides a safe context for the free exchange of ideas, feedback and information.

A coaching approach develops the collective understanding of the skills and resources that you have in your organisation. Team members are encouraged to develop their own ideas and to act creatively, ensuring that people at all levels of the organisation can act proactively.

Crucially, a coaching approach is more flexible and adaptive. This allows organisations to better meet challenges and to take advantage of some of the opportunities offered by disruptive change.

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How can organisations implement a coaching approach to management?

Implementing a coaching approach begins by assessing your current management methods. From there you can begin to develop a roadmap for change.

A coaching management approach begins with managers who understand what a coaching approach really is. This means that they are likely to need to undergo a leadership coaching programme to help them develop the understanding, skills and approach they will require.

A coaching approach is radically different to other management approaches and reorientating how people manage their teams needs to be systematic. Coaching managers are self-reflective managers. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and have a plan of action to improve.

Once you have leaders who understand the coaching approach, then it’s important to set clear goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve through implementing a coaching approach and how will you measure the results?

The change of approach will need to be effectively communicated with employees at every level of the organisation with plenty of room given for feedback.

A coaching approach expects more of everyone within the organisation, but the benefits it can deliver for both individuals and the organisation as a whole are considerable.

Working with a leadership coaching organisation can help you develop a realistic roadmap while ensuring that your management team have the skills they need to bring about the necessary change.

How Leadership Success can help you apply a coaching approach

Leadership Success can equip the leaders in your organisation with the skills they need to become effective workplace coaches. Our coaching solutions for organisations can transform how people are managed within your organisation.

We provide tailored coaching and mentoring to empower your leadership team. Our highly experienced experts will guide you every step of the way, from solution design to implementation and review.

Your leaders will each receive individualised coaching with resources that are customised to their individual needs including assessments, e-learning and on-the-job action guides. Senior management can monitor the progress that’s being made via online dashboard reporting.

Why not contact us to find out more about our approach and how we can help your business achieve its goals.

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