Sunday, June 03, 2012

Coaching is like parenting and asking to eat bitter-gourd

Most of the times, managers refer performance cases to their bosses and HR.  Imagine the situation where issue is put on the table of HR head. Employee says, “I am not aware, nobody told me that I am doing anything wrong.” Line manager says,” I have given you the hint when we discussed last time.” HR head says, “Have you documented the discussion?”
The result- Communication is not clear, expectations are not clear. Employee says, “Sir you never told me that.” Boss says, “We meet everyday, but you never discuss with me.”
Why such situations arise?
It is good to keep HR in loop, but then managers forget responsibilities towards their employees. Sometimes, employee may have performance or behaviour issues. Handling non performing employees is always a difficult task. If employee is old in the organization, then such issues may create lot of confusion among interested parties. If these issues are not handled properly, they become, perpetual.  The perpetual issues affect the productivity. It also disturbs the culture. Here HR has the prime responsibility to develop managers as effective coach. Coaching is the key. One of the HR responsibilities of line managers is to focus on the performance of employees and be the coach for their employees.
Coaching is a mean for learning and development. It also includes manager’s role of guiding to achieve goals and experience sharing. However most of the times, it is misinterpreted for correcting behaviour, directing somebody or forcing the expertise. Coaching asks what is right as well as what works. It is ongoing procedure. As rightly said by Galileo Galilei, you can’t teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself. Coaching is exactly supporting employees to discover their potential within themselves.

Here manager’s act as a good model. His direct reports may be mimicking his behavior. Sometime managers are directive and sometimes supportive. This should also need to reflect in coaching style.  

Employee needs coaching in following circumstances.
  • If he has performance issues
  • If he has behaviour issues
  • If he is being bored with routine job
  • If causing frictions with team members
  • If he is stumbling while working.      
Every person in his life plays the role of coach; coach for his kids. In profession, though you can’t treat your employees as kid, but you can pick your style to develop them, guide them to develop their performance.

What do we do at home when we don’t get desired behaviour or results from the kid? My wife uses a unique technique of coaching.

In past my son, Atharva had an issue of eating sabjee of bitter -gourd. She tried to understand the reason by listening well. Initially the response was “I don’t like that”. Then after continues questioning, he told his problem that the subzi tastes bitter and hence he doesn’t like that. After few days she advocate eating bitter-guard explaining him certain reasons, like it is good for heath etc etc. She also made some changes in the recipe so that it would taste less bitter. Child started to taste and gave good feedback. Finally he agreed that he would eat the same. She did not forget to reward him for this improvement.     

What skills she used here?

  • She listened actively,
  • She asked right questions and reasons,
  • She advocated her opinion,
  • She received feedback and gave her feedback,
  • She built agreement
  • She rewarded kid.
If you want to be effective coach, you required to develop above skills. These are right skills required for coaching. We all have these skills, only need to uncover the same.

Now just see the methodology she adopted.

She identified area: Areas is to guide the child to eat subzi of bitter-gourd.
Identify desired outcome: Child eats subzi without hesitation is the expected outcome.
Take stakeholders in confidence: She took the child and me (!) in confidence by convincing him that it is good for health.
Identify difficulties: She identified difficulties and change the recipe if required.

In whole process, here her role was supportive. Here directive coaching style would have been failed. We should be very clear about the circumstances about using these styles. If employee is totally inexperienced and need coaching, directive style would help.

Coaching has purpose and objective. It is not just directing or guiding. Here results are expected. I personally believe that if we work as coaches than managers, we can easily expect more results from our employees. Literally it is like parenting. Parenting what my wife did, call it as coaching as well!  

And of course, it is same like asking employee to eat bitter-gourd.


Shabbar Suterwala said...

Dear Vinod,

Excellent example..!! A great metaphor that can be used to demonstrate coaching skills..!! Infact every parent is a coach, it is just that as parent many a time they don't understand this role...!!

Deepti said...

Excellent Vinod. You write relevent and appropraite with good examples. Really appreciate your skills and knowledge and enlightening us.

Medha Jere said...

'Coaching' plays very important role. Correctly identify.
I personally like that you elaborate point wise everything.

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