7 secrets to maximising your coaching skills25 Oct 2019
Coaching effectively is a skill. It's not the same as simply telling someone how to carry out a task. It's much more than instructions. Coaching is about helping the other person to improve their confidence as well as their knowledge.
Here are our top seven secrets to becoming a better coach.
7 ways to improve your coaching skills
1) Practise patience and tolerance
The person you coach will almost definitely learn better if you offer a calm and relaxed space. No one wants to feel pressured. I'm a much better learner when I'm free to ask questions. On occasion, I've met coaches who refuse to change their plan to accommodate my needs. In these circumstances I've learnt very little because we've moved onto the next stage before I've properly understood the last.
Patience for each of your learners' individual needs is essential – especially if they're not confident in their own ability to learn.
2) Remove your own agenda
You'll probably want to feel a sense of achievement yourself. When you've successfully helped someone improve, you can feel very proud of your own work.
However, that's really an 'added-extra'. The priority is that the other person learns and feels well-equipped to continue without you. Remember this throughout your coaching. Be open-minded about how you run your training and the coaching style you use. It's about making decisions that will help them, not you.
As a coach you must employ active listening skills.
3) Listen more
As humans we have a tendency to form answers before the other person has even finished talking. This is a highly ineffective way to communicate. As a coach you must employ active listening skills. Rather than hear the words, understand them. Work out the context and what the real message is, then tailor your response accordingly.
4) Understand what your body language says
Body language is key part of communication we often overlook. As a coach you should take care to ensure your body language:
- Welcomes the other person.
- Maintains a positive atmosphere.
- Is calm and relaxed, never stressed or tense.
You want to show you're pleased to be helping the other person and open to working together.
5) Show an interest in the other person
By asking the other person about their interest in learning and their goals, you show that you're there to support them. They'll feel like you genuinely want the best for them. In turn, they'll feel more comfortable asking questions or getting something wrong. This is the perfect learning environment – calm and relaxed.
6) Be empathetic
Presumably, as a coach, you find the skills you're teaching fairly straightforward. Remember that the other person almost definitely does not agree. They may have had poor training in the past or struggle with a basic concept.
Being empathetic will make you a much better coach. Put yourself in their shoes. What are their needs and motivations? Are they worried, nervous, excited, impatient? Be ready to deal with any of these scenarios. Showing you have some understanding of what the other person is feeling builds trust immediately. Trust is essential if they're to feel calm and free to learn.
Start any feedback session by listing several things the other person did really well.
7) Give useful feedback
First and foremost, be positive and constructive with your feedback. I usually start by listing several things the other person did really well. Once your coachee is feeling confident that they've achieved, let them know how you'd like to optimise their learning. Don't find the negatives in their learning. Just point out what you think will help them be even better than they already are.
In my opinion, it's essential to give feedback in person, so that the other person sees your body language with it. It can be hard to ensure the right message comes across in writing.
To improve your coaching skills, or those of your wider team, take the ICML coaching course. We're run courses in-house and externally – you pick the option that suits you best.