Time for Coaching
by Merrick Rosenberg
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 dont coach
their people as much as they should, they inevitably reply, I dont
have the time.
Lets 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%?
Lets play with 2%. Thats not unreasonable, is it? Heres how it works
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
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 wasnt 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 Im 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
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 dont 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.
Im not discounting the value of these questions, however, theres 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 its
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
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.