The power of taking a coaching approach with your team

In the current world of working from home and managing teams in a more dispersed and dynamic fashion, traditional approaches to management and communication simply won’t work. 

Leaders and managers need to be able to balance supporting their people so they can individually establish their own autonomy to complete their tasks, while providing opportunities for motivating work challenges and establishing methods to workshop roadblocks that will eventually occur. 

One of the best skills to aid in these approaches for leaders and managers is coaching. Let’s dig into what coaching is all about and how you can get started with this approach in your workplace.


Why should leaders consider taking a coaching approach?

If we think we need all the answers, then we limit the solutions. 

Coaching allows our people to retain their expertise, subject knowledge, while creating space for edit and refinement. As a coach, the ability to ask questions and hold space helps to reduce the cognitive load the person we are coaching holds in the moment with us. This helps them to make decisions and create solutions.  For those being coached, it creates safety and space for ideas, knowledge and solutions to be contextualised and potentially create more concrete pathways that will enable new habits and solutions.

In a recent virtual masterclass I hosted, we talked about motivation and emotional literacy. The beauty of coaching is it creates space for people to talk about the work, their ideas and how they feel. It allows them to process what is going on and will enable them to re-evaluate how they work and what they need. Coaching also gives people space to think about what they want to say and what they want to communicate with others. 

Coaching is not about telling people what to do, or sharing recommendations as the medicine to cure-all. One of the essential elements of being a coach is creating space for your team members to talk about and process what is going on; creating a safe space to speak openly about work, how they feel and THEN, allowing the individual to come up with action items to help them move forward. The effects can be the most liberating and releasing experience. When it comes to how a person feels, there is importance in sitting in the discomfort of emotion. 

Check out the Stand Out Life Podcast interview with Corporate Anthropologist Michael Henderson to hear his point about creating space. 


Why use coaching now?

At this point, with so much uncertainty in the world, there can be a risk of going into ‘rescue mode’ and becoming the leader at the bottom of a hill in an ambulance. Coaching allows us to zoom in and out with people and will enable them to achieve autonomy. 

When scrolling through anonymous commentary on GlassDoor, one thing that I repeatedly saw in the most recent commentary (March – June 2020) was a dislike for micromanagement. Micromanagement and questioning what people are doing can create headache and frustration in teams. The fact that people are going online with their frustrations and sharing it with websites focussed on creating a picture of organisations is a telling sign of where there is an opportunity for leaders and managers to coach. Coaching allows people to develop their structure, their autonomy to get the required work and goals done and discuss how they can overcome the curve balls or roadblocks that could show up. 


How to get started with a coaching approach:

  • Prepare for your discussion by getting clear on your key questions and your purpose as a coach. 
  • Talk with the person about what barriers are at play, or could turn up along the way.
  • Discuss how they will navigate roadblocks as they occur, and 
  • Establish checkpoints and actions that they will be accountable to update you or others on along the way. 
  • If they have asked for support or you have committed to follow up, DO IT.


Try adding these questions to your coaching tool kit:

  • Talk me through what is happening?
  • What concerns do you have right now?
  • What would help you right now?
  • What could get in the way?
  • What is the outcome you want to achieve?


With the situations the person shares, try asking:

  • Do you have what you need to accomplish your goals/work/tasks?
  • What are you thinking/feeling/seeing/hearing?
  • What do you need to do after this conversation?
  • What support do you need?


Are you ready to enhance your coaching capability, or that of the leaders across your organisation? Take a look at our Coaching Mastery program, now available for delivery through our world-class PTV virtual training studio.