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A Manager’s Guide on Coaching Conversations

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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Today’s enterprises have identified that the traditional “boss” needs to be replaced with modern, forward-thinking, empathetic leadership. Dropping orders from a place of position is no longer a relevant leadership strategy. Increasingly organizations are discovering that coaching leaders deliver better pathways to progress.

Developing coaching skills in managers thus becomes a key organizational prerogative. 

The coaching manager capably provides support to drive sustainable change in behaviors while also facilitating learning and development. In today’s world of work, employee engagement is directly proportional to the employee experience, learning and development opportunities, and clear career progression plans. As such, managers need to develop their coaching vocabulary and have impactful coaching conversations to drive productivity, engagement, and belonging at work.

Coaching managers help their team members reach their goals, overcome limiting beliefs, chance undeserving behaviors, and progress along their career paths. Be it missed deadlines, learning opportunities, overwhelm at work, or onboarding new employees, taking a coaching approach helps managers enable employees with empathy, non-judgment, and encouragement. 

Coaching conversations between managers and employees are a great source to identify challenges and opportunities to boost performance and build trust. and augment the outcomes of career pathing programs. 

Research now proves that leaders who coach their teams improve their business results by 21%!

The ABC of coaching conversations

Good managers lead. Great managers coach. 

In today’s hybrid world of work, managers need to build trust bridges, influence equity, inclusiveness, and belonging in teams positively, and augment employee outcomes. Using the coaching methodology allows managers to have successful coaching conversations that promote forward movement with their team members.

Coaching is not about telling what the employee is expected to do or what they “should be” doing. It is about helping the employee discover their perfect solutions. Through active listening and deep questioning, managers take the employees on the path of discovery. 

Directional inputs that come as lectures often lead to employees shutting down or becoming unresponsive. Quality questions are the crux of good coaching outcomes as it engages the employee. With deep questioning, employees can delve into their psyche and come up with ideas and solutions that help them move ahead. 

One of the most popular techniques to drive impactful coaching conversations and robust outcomes is the GROW model. This coaching model stands for learning through experience. Reflection, insight, identifying choices and clear action items define this experience. The acronym GROW stands for Goal, Current Reality, Options, and Will/Way Forward and is a simple yet powerful framework to structure coaching sessions.

How does the GROW model work?

Each stage is clearly defined in this model. Simply following these steps ensure that the coaching conversation moves forward organically, impactfully, and productively.

G- for Goal

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

The Goal section of the GROW model accounts for the first step of the coaching process. It is also one of the most important parts of the model. The manager and the employee look at dreams, desires, aspirations, or challenges to identify and establish clear, well-defined goals. It is also important for these goals to be SMART (Sustainable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound).

These goals keep the focus on forward movement and ensure that the entire coaching process flows from the goal. Managers can help employees develop a well-defined target through compelling questions, and identification of limiting beliefs in relation to the employees’ dreams, desires, and points of improvement.

R -for Current Reality

The next step of the GROW model is to evaluate and help the employees understand their current reality with clarity and context. This step helps them realize the magnitude of the efforts they need to take to move from point A to point B.

Using active listening, managers can ask impactful questions to clarify the current reality of the employee. Questions could be like:

  • What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the effect or result of this?
  • Where are you now in relation to your goal?
  • What is required of you and what obstacles have kept you from reaching these goals?

O for – Options

Once the employee understands their current reality, it is time to move to the next stage. In this stage, the manager and the employee understand where they want to be vs. where they currently are. 

With this clarity, they can then identify the options they need to choose to bridge the gap between the current state and the future ideal state.

Managers encourage employees to think creatively, comprehensively, and positively about all the things they can do to achieve their goals. This stage is about generating as many options as possible while becoming enthused about them.

Leading questions that compel employees to evaluate areas where they feel stuck form a vital part of this stage. Managers can ask coaching questions that help employees assess their options and identify different ways to achieve their goals and the skills they need to move ahead.

W – Will/Way Forward

Identifying the way forward is the final stage of the GROW model. In this stage, the manager and the employee work together to refine the options, identify a specific set of actions, and then commit to them. 

The manager helps the employee identify the action steps, the obstacles in fulfilling these actions, and the possible solutions to overcome the obstacles so that the employee remains committed to the set action items.

Questions like, “what are possible obstacles you see to reach this goal” “what can you do to overcome those obstacles”, “on a scale of 1-10 how committed are you towards reaching your goals” etc. are some questions that drive forward movement in this stage.

In Conclusion

“When we are interested, we do what is convenient. When we are committed, we do whatever it takes.” Nithya Shanti.

The GROW model enables managers to help employees envision their goals and isolate all the barriers to success. Visualizing the specific steps to reach goals drives higher commitment towards improvement actions. And it is this commitment that influences change.

The GROW model inspires employees to see their goals in a whole new light. This approach helps managers have compelling, organized, defined, and impactful coaching conversations. Using active listening and keeping the questions open-ended help managers help employees move ahead along their career paths and fully commit to the actions they choose.

Connect with us to see how you can empower your managers to develop their coaching vocabulary, have impactful coaching conversations, and coach with confidence

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