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Learning Technologies

Learning Technologies Review: Coaching and Developing Employees with Lisa Gates

February 13, 2019 Review: Coaching and Developing Employees with Lisa Gates

There is a popular meme on Linked In where a senior leader asks, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?” to which the CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

One of the most rewarding and important roles I have as Vice-President Academic is to support the development of the colleagues with whom I work. It is wonderful to witness someone start a new role, embrace a new challenge or take a risk because they feel supported to do so. My role in the coaching relationship is to walk alongside, to listen, to draw out ideas, and to encourage stretch opportunities.

Coaching takes practice, time and commitment – and I don’t always get it right. However, coaching is a critical investment in our own people. In fact, research shows that a culture of coaching can directly benefit an organization through building stronger talent, preparing for succession, and supporting effective employee engagement.

I chose to review this course because I want to continue to practice my skills to better support my team. Similar to the conflict resolution course that I reviewed a few weeks ago (led by the same instructor, Lisa Gates), this course uses a series of vignettes that present coaching conversations between a manager and a new leader on her team. The exchanges accurately (in my experience at least) reflect the sometimes difficult terrain that managers need to travel when supporting team members. I also found it helpful when a “what not to do” scene was presented alongside a “do this instead” option (and, honestly, recognized myself in both scenarios!).

One of the key messages in this course is that coaching should always be future focused (“what’s possible?”) and, therefore, it is not just for colleagues who may be struggling or need additional support. It can also serve to support new hires to the organization, staff leading new projects, and high achievers with career aspirations. When we spend time really listening, approaching the situation with curiosity, and asking questions to gain different perspectives, we can help our colleagues gain clarity and move forward with renewed commitment. Perhaps you’ve been in a conversation with someone where you’ve asked a question that changed their perspective on the situation and helped them identify next steps – that’s a coaching moment!

Although the course is focused primarily on the manager-employee relationship, the techniques presented in this course – especially the Power Talk questions and process – are widely applicable and can be immensely helpful in peer support conversations and even in personal conversations with partners, family and children. Ultimately, coaching is about listening, asking powerful questions, and providing a safe place for others to explore ideas, take risks, practice new skills and celebrate success … and we can all use that kind of support!

Have you ever been in a coaching role? Have you ever been coached? What made those experiences meaningful and valuable? What did you learn?

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