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30 tips to become a better coach – part 2

Jeroen de Flander
art of performance by Jeroen De Flander

In a recent post, I mentionned that strategy execution needs great coaches. I also provided a list with 10 coaching tips. Here’s a second list with tips. You could also find these tips and others in my ultimate coaching guide: 101 coaching tips for great performance coaching.

1. Coach only on first-hand data.

When you know the coachee, you probably have more information available. You might, for example, have heard something from a colleague. And I know it’s tempting to use that information, but be aware that using it will often have a negative impact on your coaching relationship – whether the information is correct or not. So stick to what you hear directly from your coachee.

2. Dig deeper

Ask your coachee open questions that will make him reflect. You should be able to detect it from their body language such as a pause before answering or a raising of the eyes. When you ask questions solely from the normal, conscious level of awareness, you may be helping your coachee to structure his thoughts but you are not probing for deeper levels of awareness. But when your coachee has to really dig deep to find the answer, new awareness is created. And once found, the input becomes conscious and readily available for the coachee to use.

3. Coach or tell?

Whether or not to opt for a coaching approach depends on your situation at a given moment. If timing is the most important criterion in a specific situation, such as in a crisis, doing the job yourself or telling someone exactly what to do is probably your best option. If quality matters most, you will get the best results with coaching for high awareness and responsibility. If learning and retention are crucial, coaching is again your best choice.

4. Before you start, ask yourself what you want to get out of it

Don’t confuse or fool yourself by pretending to coach when you are actually doing something different. If you want to teach, then go and teach. If you want to sell, then do so. But don’t use coaching as a means to something other than for what it is intended. It might give you the desired outcome in the short-term but will always backfire and create more problems at a later stage.

5. Understand what makes people tick

There is no need to complete a psychology degree before you can start coaching. But as coaching is all about human interaction, it’s useful to have a basic understanding of what drives human behaviour.

6. Use homework

It gives your coachee more time to collect high-quality input and creates responsibility. And it will give you more coaching time and a solid starting base for your next session.

7. Delegate coaching

Evaluate carefully the amount of time you allocate to coaching. In some situations you can delegate particular coaching jobs to others.

8. Coach the coach

When delegating a coaching job to someone else, you are stimulating that individual to apply and build their own coaching skills. It further enriches your own coaching practice as you are approaching coaching from a new perspective.

Even after years of coaching, I still find it refreshing and rewarding to coach coaches.

9. Don’t feel guilty about providing input

Just because you read somewhere that a coach should not delve into the content, doesn’t mean that you can’t provide some input. You just need to be careful with your timing and delivery method. A good time to offer your knowledge or experience is when you recognise that the coachee has exhausted all possibilities during the Option phase – the ‘O’ from GROW.

Ask the following question: ‘I have some more options and ideas. Maybe you would like to hear them?’ You can style the question to your liking, but do make sure that it’s clear to your coachee that you are momentarily stepping out of your facilitating role.

When providing your input, make it as short as possible. Try to put it all into one phrase. You don’t want to be talking for the next 10 minutes.

If you have more then one session and know the topic, you can write your tips on paper and get a feeling for the tone and directness of the message. Remember to make it clear to your coachee that your input should be treated in the same way as his own options and ideas.

10. When you don’t know the answer, admit it

A no-nonsense approach will help your build a relationship of trust. It is extremely damaging to that relationship to go back on something that you supported during a previous session. If you don’t have the answer, say so and offer to find it by the next session or possibly earlier.