Do you have what it takes to be a great coach?

Coaching skills

Do you have what it takes to be a great coach?

Karen Lloyd retention, employer

This week is National Coaching Week in the UK – a great initiative to celebrate the importance and value that coaches can bring in getting people physically active and helping to build communities.

This is a topic I’m really passionate about, both personally and professionally.  I’ve been fortunate to have received some fantastic coaching throughout my career and have always ensured my businesses have had a strong focus on training, coaching and mentoring staff.  

In my view, it is an essential part of a strong staff retention strategy, contributing to staff morale and their feeling of being valued and invested in, irrespective of their field or seniority.

Coaching in marketing is no different.  A recent survey showed more than half of marketing professionals felt they didn’t receive any meaningful training or coaching in their role, a statistic that directly correlated to those feeling undervalued and who were considering seeking a new role in the coming year.

Not all coaching needs to be done by external third parties, some of the most effective coaching and mentoring can be done by individuals within the team or wider business.

Being a great coach is an artform, so what skills do you need?
  1. Objectivity.  This is a tough one, but you must try to focus on removing pre-conceived ideas about the person you are working with.  Your role here is to focus on their learning needs and put your own views to one side.
  2. Communication. A no brainer!  Without good communication skills you don’t stand a chance of being effective in this role.
  3. Questioning & Listening.  The art of asking the right questions is key.  As a coach you do not press your own ideas or expertise (difficult as this can be), but rather allow the person to find their way through open questions in their own way and time.
  4. Clear goal setting and monitoring.  I can’t emphasise how important this is.  Don’t set someone a goal to deliver in two weeks, ignore them for that timeframe and then criticise the work they produce.  SMART goals are key, ensure they buy into the goal and regularly check their progress throughout.  The aim is that they feel supported but not that you are peering over their shoulder.
  5. Feedback.  The art of giving constructive feedback is crucial.  It should be timely and as specific as possible.  Rather than focus on the negatives, help the person to explore what / where they went wrong and how they can correct or improve for the future.  It is not a blame game!

Please don’t feel that the tasks of coaching and mentoring your team fall solely on your shoulders though.  With the need for teams to be cross skilled these days, if an area of the business is centralised (data for example), working with other teams will add value to your own departments.

In addition, long term mentoring programmes generally involve colleagues in other parts of the business who can provide fresh eyes and a different perspective to work on those other skills such as relationship building, change management and personal development.

Coaching is a process that helps and supports people manage their own learning in order to maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to beEric Parsloe – Founder of Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring