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It is increasingly expected that managers- irrespective of the nature of the business they are in- coach their teams to attain better results. However, as you look around , you soon find that coaching does not come naturally or even easily to all managers. Some make efforts and give up when they find it more complex than they imagined it to be. Others give up when they don’t see dramatic results immediately.  Keeping in mind the traditional outlook of a large number of typical managers, here are my 7 Barriers to Coaching:-

  1. Used to Control: They believe the manager’s job is to control and are so used to ordering people around that they find it difficult to accept that things can get done – without their doing so. They wrongly believe that they possess more knowledge than anyone else and brook no interference in the way they run the show.
  2. One Size Fits All: They are used to a certain style of management. This makes them believe that what worked with one, should work with all. Or what worked the other day should work a few months later as well.
  3. Wrong Priorities: The common excuse of ” I have no time” is a reflection of the low priority they give to people development. They are more occupied in fire fighting and rushing from one crisis to another. With a perpetually imbalanced sense of priorities, it’s little wonder that they “have no time” for coaching.
  4. Too Much or Too Little: In sharing responsibility or expecting contributions from team members, they tend to go to extremes. Either they give up too much responsibility too soon – almost amounting to abdication- or give too little for it to be meaningful to the team member.
  5. Solving Problems Themselves: Since they view solving problems as being critical for success, they tend to do all the problem solving themselves. As a result, those working for them do not get adequate exposure or experience of solving problems on their own. Over time, team members get conditioned to having the boss solve all the problems.
  6. Coach Centred rather Than Coachee Centred: Their entire approach is based on what works for them. As a result, they approach issues the way they would, not on the way the team member is most comfortable with or good at. The manager prefers people who think like him and work like him. They find it difficult to manage diversity since they seldom see things from others’ perspective.
  7. Unstructured Approach: Caught up in the whirlwind of day to day operations, they seldom adopt a structured approach to coaching. They are driven by varying tempos, move from one topic to another and see speed as the barometer of success, They don’t realize that coaching does not provide a “quick fix” solution. It calls for sustained effort over time.

The good news is that all managers do not make poor coaches. There are some who are truly gifted.They see the true potential in people and work with them in developing this potential. These are the ones remembered by their team members long after they cease to work for them- for the role they played in their development. As Sir John Whitmore said ‘Coaching focuses on future possibilities, not past mistakes”.

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This is Post No: 354 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

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