In yesterday’s post I talked introduced some thoughts about why coaching and mentoring is so hard. In that post I discussed the difference between knowledge and skills and that to coach effectively we need to know why we are coaching.
Are we coaching for knowledge or skills?
Consciously or not, once we determine the answer to that question, we often make a wrong turn.
Because as supervisors, leaders and coaches we are busy, and because coaching is seldom on the urgent part of the to-do list, we all too often coach for knowledge.
Is it because most of the coaching required by those we lead is caused by a lack of knowledge?
Not so much.
In fact in my experience, most of us need far more coaching on our skills than on the knowledge required to do a job.
The reason we too often coach to knowledge only is that it doesn’t take nearly as long.
We can tell people the critical information (or tell them again and again) and this requires less conversation and less time, and it produces less conflict and angst.
And even though we complain (if only in our minds) that we “told them that information and they still don’t get it,” in the end the person that doesn’t get it is us — we are likely not giving them the coaching and mentoring and feedback they truly need to succeed in the task.
If in reading this you are surmising that you think we are all just too lazy to coach correctly, you are overstating it a little. While I don’t necessarily think we are lazy, we do try to take shortcuts. And while shortcuts can be a great tool for greater leadership effectiveness in some cases, this isn’t one of them!
Besides our goal to be expedient, there are at least two other reasons why we doing always get this right, but they are for the next two posts.
Your leadership question today is – am I coaching for knowledge when I really should be coaching for skills?
Make reflecting on this question one of your leadership activities today.