Coaching & Communication 1

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
The communication spectrum
The communication spectrum

Most managers I train as coaches are clear (or have been convinced by their bosses) that they need to take on the role of coach as part of their people management responsibilities. Most are less clear about exactly what this means or how to go about it. There are obvious difficulties in defining coaching with any precision and of incorporating coaching into a general management role.

A useful starting point is to consider coaching as one type of communication and see how it fits with typical management communication that most of us will recognize.

Here we’ll consider six communication styles that differ in terms of the level of control exercised by manager and team member respectively.

Tells

When we tell people what to do and how to do it, we assume total control. This is highly attractive when time is tight or the consequence of error high.

Sells

Here we loosen our control just slightly and involve team members to the extent that we realism that they must be convinced of the merits of an idea before they’ll feel inclined to act upon it with any enthusiasm.

Tests

A further loosening of our control and a greater involvement for team members because we literally test out an idea or decision and accept the risk that the team will not agree.

Consults

I think of this as a meeting halfway, 50/50 kind of style. The team’s input is sought and their ideas considered but it is still the manager that makes a final decision and thus retains a high level of control.

Joins

This is an egalitarian communication style aimed at decision making by consensus. Control has switched. More is with the team members but not all of it.

Delegates

The manager sets the parameters of the task, success measures, reporting guidelines, etc. but control over how to accomplish the task is given to the team member(s). The risks are high but the rewards and long term gains substantial.

A common mistake in considering management communication in this way is to think that one style is necessarily correct. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and the most effective managers adapt their style to reflect the needs of the situation and of the person with whom they are communicating. For example if, as you are reading this, a fire alarm sounded it would clearly be absurd to arrange a meeting to discuss options for evacuating the building. What would be needed is for someone to take the lead and to ensure that people were moved to safety quickly and in accordance with the laid down procedures. Similarly, a new person on the team will need a period of close monitoring and some instruction before they have built up the knowledge and experience required for delegated tasks.

In a future post I’ll expand on the relative advantages and disadvantages of each style and examine where coaching fits.

Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Sign up for our Newsletter

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

How about some instant coaching skills?

Part of Hodder Education’s Instant Manager series, my book on coaching was first published in 2012 and covers everything from coaching definitions to how to set up and run a coaching session.

For a limited time the publishers and I are making this digital version available FREE to my new and existing subscribers.