Monday, 11 May 2009

The 'Manager as Coach' - a credible solution?

According to a recent CIPD report (1), of the UK businesses that use coaching, 70 per cent of them have it delivered by line managers. That's a large percentage isn't it? But does this really offer organisations a 'coaching solution'? In my experience, most of the organisations that train their managers in coaching, do so through a short course - typically two-days or even shorter. Does this make the manager into a coach? I suggest not. At best, it gives the manager an introduction to some coaching skills and can probably improve his or her ways of interacting with their direct reports. For example, engaging in shared problem-solving rather than giving direct instructions and 'orders'. It might also encourage the manager to subsequently undertake some deeper coach training and even accredited coaching qualifications with an awarding body.

What is clear to me is that coaching is a highly skilled, multi-faceted service which requires a very broad range of competencies and experience. These include business experience (in a variety of organisations) and knowledge of how organisations function (organisational behaviour), as well as at least a working knowledge of human psychology. Then there are a host of other compentencies such as empathy, listening skills, honesty, integrity etc etc. Finally, most good coaches understand, and are able to apply, one or more coaching methodology - indeed, good coaches are usually able to work with a flexible range of methodologies, depending on the needs of the coachee. Can all of this be learnt on a two-day training programme? I think not.

So, to conclude. We should welcome the fact that organisations are waking up to the power of coaching and that some of them are putting managers through 'The manager as coach' programmes. But we should be clear about the strengths and limitations of such programmes. It is not surprising that many organisations find that they have to use a blend of both internal and external coaches.

(1) Coaching at the sharp end: developing and supporting the line manager as coach, available at:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog