Every team leader will find the need to coach a team member at some point. Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training, advice and guidance. However, coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.
Let’s consider two approaches to coaching: Non-Directive and Directive.
In a non-directive approach, the goal is to help a team member grow in a professional sense. This involves helping them to develop some plausible options for resolving his or her issues. The first time you use this method, don’t be surprised if the team member tries to throw the ball back in your court by asking you to make suggestions as to possible courses of action. When they balk, you could suggest that the first thing they should do is to develop a list of possible actions they could take to resolve their issues. Naturally, it is easier for the team member if you make the suggestions. The team member might ask, “Why won’t you just tell me what to do?” Let them know that you could tell him or her what to do. But, in the long run, it is better if they learned to develop some possible solutions to their issues. If necessary, press further, by asking them what they think they could do?
Some team leaders may believe that if they are not “kicking a**,” they are “soft.” On the contrary, the overarching reason for coaching is to help the team member grow and learn to develop the confidence and skill to identify techniques to bridge skill gaps and other behaviors. In a directive coaching situation, the team member is not forced to think through their challenges. Rather, they are relying on someone to provide them with answers. Admittedly, directive coaching may be easier, but as other issues arise, you may have to replay the same movie. The person being coached could also resist or resent the suggestions and make you the scapegoat.
Which method do you favor?
The Non-Directive approach helps to develop more independent and professional team members, whereas the Directive approach encourages dependent behaviors because it eliminates independent thinking, resourcefulness and initiative.
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