Why coaching fails more than it succeeds
Over the last couple of weeks I have been increasingly aware of the fact that coaching is seen as a panacea for people development, and yet each article I read seems to say very different things. Then last week I received some feedback on our “ready to use coaching training pack” (Manager as a coach) from a purchaser. Judging by the time to purchase to complaint they could not have read the materials however, feedback is feedback.
Let’s start here, the actual feedback I received is as follows (unedited)…
“I just purchased this Coaching Skills for Managers a few minutes ago and it is not what it appeared to be. The title is Coaching Skills for Mangers but the materials are about Coaching and Managing ASSIGNEMENS? This was very misleading as most Coaching Skills for Manager type classes are about learning better Leadership skills. Additionally, there was only 8 power point slides. I paid for (only) 8 slides?”
Let’s take these points one at a time:
- “The title is Coaching Skills for Mangers but the materials are about Coaching and Managing ASSIGNMENTS?” – in our understanding of coaching (internal rather than external) for managers is that the aim is that we coach people to achieve a given output, outcome or deliverable. For our convenience and clarity we call these “assignments” or outcomes – the tutor / leaders guide clearly helps the course leaders to help managers identify what is appropriate
- “Coaching Skills for Manager type classes are about learning better Leadership skills” – yes coaching is a leadership skill, but a course on “coaching for managers” is exactly that – a course to help build the coaching skills in managers and leaders. Coaching is not a “catch all” title for the development of leadership or management skills. It is but one tool in the toolbox.
- Coaching is NOT just about leadership skills – it is a way of engaging, developing and motivating people.
- There was only 8 Power-point slides – unless you are into “death by Power-point”, less is more. Our course notes are for a 6-8 hour day long WORKSHOP, and contains case studies, discussion and practical sessions. If we measure the “value” of a course by the number of Power-point slides then are we talking about training or lectures?
There are some that would argue you cannot train coaching – it should be coached – so no visual aids are required at all!
Soon after this email I read a blog post by Exemplas entitled “Coaching – are we all talking about the same thing”. In this piece they point to a CIPD survey on work place coaching where the findings from a comprehensive survey showed that the majority of coaching taking place is by line managers as part of their management & leadership role. The survey also highlights that Coaching as a vehicle is now the primary training and development tool, and most often driven not by external training professionals, but managers with coaching skills. However there appears to be considerable variances in what coaching is and is not.
Internal or External Coach
The skills needed by an external coach are very different from those required by the line manager as a coach. I just hope that when people talk about coaching they clarify what they mean and the nature of the relationship between the person being coached and the coach themselves.
Different types of coaching
Our article https://rapidbi.com/different-types-of-coaching/ outlines several of the main types and their differences.
In his blog Keith Rosen provides the following top ten reasons why coaching fails:
The Top Ten Reasons Why Coaching Fails When Managers Attempt to Coach Their Team
- Coaching in your own image. I already know the ‘right’ way which has always worked for me. So if I were you, I would do it this way.”
- Poor positioning. How did you set the expectations of coaching?
- Past experiences. “I’ve already tried to coach my people. It didn’t work.”
- Inconsistent coaching and support.
- No training: The manager is not trained in coaching.
- Event based. The coaching is event based rather than culturally based to ensure long-term consistency.
- The manager assumes they have the trust of their staff.
- The manager is coaching the wrong people. “I only coach the under performers and leave the top performers alone.”
- Investing the right time with the wrong approach or conversation.
- Toxic management style.
- No patience..
- Managers not modeling it, walking their talk
So why does coaching fail?
Simple – definitions of what it is… and what it is not are rarely stated, with many people believing that it is “common knowledge” what coaching is.
And secondly inconsistent approach with poor skills.