Time for Coaching

by Merrick Rosenberg

Time for Coaching

When I ask people if they provide as much coaching to their staff members as they should, they almost always say, “No.”
Then, when I ask them why they don’t coach their people as much as they should, they inevitably reply, “I don’t have the time.”

Let’s explore that…

If you are a manager, how much of your time should be devoted to coaching your people? 20% of your time? 10%? 5%? 2%?

Let’s play with 2%. That’s not unreasonable, is it? Here’s how it works out:
There are 2000 hours in a year (if people work for 40 hours/week for 50 weeks).
2% of 2000 hours yields 40 hours of coaching per year.
That translates to 48 minutes of coaching per workweek.
Can you spare that? You need to…

A recent study by Career Development Services found that 80% of employees who had been coached by their manager felt a strong sense of commitment to their organization, versus 46% of employees who had no coaching.

In another study, Career Systems International asked people to identify the reason why they stay at their current organization. 46% of respondents reported that they stayed because the organization provided career growth and development. Coaching is one of the key ways to help people grow and develop their careers.

It wasn’t that long ago that people worked for less than three companies in their entire career. Today, it is not uncommon for people to jump ship every three to five years. There has been a significant shift from lifetime employment to lifetime employability. If people do not feel like they are developing their skills to ensure lifetime employability, they are likely to leave to find a job where they can learn and grown.

“But I’m too busy to schedule coaching sessions with my staff.”
A common refrain that I hear from managers is, “I spend my day in meetings. How am I supposed to find time to sit down with my staff and coach them?”

Coaching can be formal or informal. Formal coaching sessions take the form of pre-scheduled sessions on a regular basis. These sessions can be held every week, every month, or even every quarter. They can last for fifteen minutes or an hour. Most importantly, the sessions should be based on the needs of the staff member. Newer staff members need more coaching than seasoned staff, but everyone needs coaching.

Informal coaching opportunities are those on-the-spot opportunities to provide positive feedback or redirect behavior with constructive feedback. These interactions can last for 20 seconds or two minutes. They don’t appear on a calendar. They simply happen when they need to. These informal conversations appear on a regular basis, if you look for them. If you seek opportunities to provide positive feedback, you will find them. And, if you search for ways to develop the skills of your staff, you will find those as well. The key is to keep looking!

Both formal and informal coaching interactions are critical to the success of your staff members. I have found that most people report that the more often they provide on-the-spot coaching, the less often they need to hold more formal coaching sessions.

What is coaching?
Managers often tell me that they regularly coach their people. However, when I probe to find out what they are doing in these coaching sessions, they tell me, “I ask them where they are at in terms of meeting their deadlines and if they need any help.”

I’m not discounting the value of these questions, however, there’s a big difference between being managing and coaching. The manager asks about projects, deadlines, priorities, and obstacles. The coach provides positive and constructive feedback. They help people to uncover their career aspirations, and they guide them to achieve their personal objectives. They help their staff members to appreciate natural strengths, analyze past performance, uncover negative tendencies, and position themselves for future success. They help them identify areas in which full potential is not being realized. Overall, they guide staff members to develop a framework for integrating attitudes, behaviors, vision, reality, and action.

Both managing and coaching interactions need to take place, but typically there is an imbalance between the two, with managing behaviors tipping the scales over coaching behaviors.

Whatever is a priority gets done.
For most people, those items that rise to the top of the priority list get done. Managers usually tell me that coaching is important, but it’s not a priority. With this attitude, is it a surprise that coaching does not happen as often as it should?

Most projects are time-bound, and coaching is not. Managers need to make coaching a priority and pre-schedule coaching sessions throughout the year. In between these meetings, they need to look for on-the-spot coaching opportunities.

Spending 2% of the year providing coaching to staff members is nothing compared to the benefits that spending this time will yield. Do you have time for coaching? If you want to retain the best people and help your employees to be the best they can be, you have to.

Learn more about Team Building as a Resource for Company Success from our friends at Lewis University.