BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 01 MAY 2015


“The person being coached is not lacking, they simply need someone to tap on their microphone and turn up the volume so they can hear their own sound.”
Suzette Hinton

It’s tempting to think that coaching is something that happens only to senior people or rising stars on account of its expensive nature and the time resource it needs. Not so. That might be true of executive coaching, but nowadays more people expect on the job coaching (where only some of an executive coach’s techniques are deployed) and more managers are training up to be able to do just that.

So, is it appropriate for your particular people? The Skill/Will matrix(from “The Tao of Coaching” by Max Landsberg) encourages you to stop and reflect before you delegate and ask yourself, “In relation to this particular task or project, how motivated (will) is this person, and how able (skill) are they right now?” This will help you to decide what approach will have the highest yield for you, them and the task at hand.

In brief: If someone is already comfortable with and experienced in the subject matter, they’ll probably appreciate you giving them free rein (high will/high skill). Great for them, and means that you’ll be free to support others whose levels of motivation and or/ability in relation to their tasks currently falls into one of the other boxes. You’ll want an update about progress, sure, and to be on hand to provide expert input should they need it, but otherwise you can leave them to it. That’s when on the job coaching is most appropriate for them and for you.

You can of course use a coaching approach across all four of the boxes, but how much you use it will vary. You’ll know this through a combination of your own experience of working with the person in question and by assessing their skill/will each time.

Likewise, here’s a sample of when you wouldn’t use on the job coaching (if you’re a people manager you shouldn’t be reliant on coaching everyone all the time. Nor should you be using a command and control approach all the time. You need to tailor your approach depending on the person/task):

  • if you’re in a time-sensitive situation
  • if there’s a heath and safety issue
  • if there’s a reputational issue at stake or
  • if you’re working with an inexperienced team, it’s entirely appropriate to use an approach other than coaching.

One caveat – a lot of you reading this will find it hard to delegate. It takes time. It’s risky. The other person won’t do it as well as you would do it. There are possibly truths in there, but a lot of the time it’s because you’re a perfectionist and you’d rather keep control. So as well as looking at the other person and their skill/will – how about starting with your own in relation to delegation and see if that’s what really getting in the way!


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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