Coaching and Delegation

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers



On our coaching skills training course we discuss a well known communication spectrum that considers the pros and cons of “telling” and one end and “delegating” at the other.

There are other points on the spectrum too such as “selling” – communicating through persuasion and “consulting” – communicating through discussion.

Poorer managers tend to “stick or swing” i.e. stay with one method irrespective of what’s happening or go from one extreme to the other leaving their teams bewildered and unable to identify what sort of boss they have.

Coaching managers on the other hand take a performer centred approach. i.e. moving up and down the spectrum as required by the needs of the coachee. In this way they ensure that they give just the right amount of help at the right time; using their experience wisely.

The added benefit of this approach is that they remain in close communication with the coachee. People who are coached in this way tend to learn and improve much faster as they construct their own understanding in their own way.

Recently some course participants have revealed how difficult they find it to delegate. It appears they fear losing control and the consequent recriminations that will come their way if things don’t work out.

“Telling” appears attractive because the manager retains control but there is no involvement or commitment from the coachee. “Delegating” hands over control to the coachee which is perhaps a step too far.

The beauty of the coaching approach is that both coach and coachee have control. The coachee has control because they choose the way forward. The coach has control because they know exactly what is to be done.

Through coaching, the coachee is making choices with high awareness and is 100% responsible. The coach, in hearing the details of the coachee’s plan, gains confidence in their intention to carry it out and has the opportunity to check it out against any rules or constraints.

Coaching is therefore the best approach to delegation because it caters for the concerns, expectations and experience of the coach and respects the need of the coachee to be properly involved, utilising their experience, knowledge and skills.

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