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Coaching & Developing Talent

Coaching & Developing Talent22-Mar-2010

Q - I love managing people, but I don’t feel like I’m really “coaching” them – rather, it seems like I’m mostly directing and solving their problems. What would you suggest?

A - Coaching is the art of facilitating self-reflection and the finding of answers, and is quite different from telling people what to do or “giving them the answers.” The easiest way to morph into coaching mode is to ask a lot of questions – the next time one of your direct reports steps into your office and asks you a question, don’t solve if for them; rather, ask: “what do you think?” Train your directs to bring solutions to the table when they bring you a hot issue. The best way to build capability is to constantly be asking questions – to see how they think, to probe for deeper understanding, and to produce insights and ideas they can use to solve their own problems.

Q - How often should I have conversations with my people about their own professional development?

A - With your direct reports, at least twice a year.  Certaintly during the year-end performance management/appraisal conversation, and again at the mid-year check-in (even if your company doesn't have a formal PM process, you can initiate these conversations on your own).  If you do a thorough job of discussing career interests, development oppportunities, learning and movement options, etc., that should be about the right frequency - especially if they are in-depth, sincere conversations.  As a leader, you should also try to have "skip-level" development conversations with your extended team at least once a year.

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