I wanted to get some clarification on views about identifying the goal for a coaching exercise. Is it ok for it to be the manager's goal for the DR, but not necessarily what the DR would have come up with themselves.

I have talked to several people about the MT coaching model recently, and some people expressed surprise at the idea that as part of coaching the manager would be identifying the area for the DR to improve on. Even to the point where they said "well, that's not really coaching then, that's just supervising"

These people seem to think it is better to use a conversational process to lead the DR to come up with the goals, hoping that they finish up thinking of what you originally thought of as the goal. My impression is that there model is more like what a "life coach" would use where the development is more about where the coached person wants to go, rather than the coach.

Obviously the ideal would be that you and your team member would have a good shared understanding of where they want to go, and where you want them to go, so that this issue would become mute. Obviously this is not always going to happen, and especially not with the people who need the coaching the most.

I am thinking of something like the classic high C team member, if you ask them there goals for development it might be further development of there technical skills, while there manager might have a very strong belief that its there people skills and output focus that really needs work.

My feeling is that the organisation will get the most value by having the DR coached on the most important area for development, which might not be the area they are the most interested in developing.

Any suggestions on how to negotiate this issue. Obviously the goals should be developed in consultation. But is it just best for the manager to start off by stating the goal they want for the DR and consulting from there?

jhack's picture

The goal should come out of observing the DR, and the one on one meetings that take place every week. There should be no "out of the blue" surprises. Any coaching goal should already have been discussed in another context.

Typically, a DR has several developmental needs (for example, learn Photoshop, improve writing skills in email, etc). They should relate to a larger developmental goal (become a next-level technician, take on project leadership responsibility, etc). These goals, and skills required to acheive them, should already be on the table.

Then the conversation is easy. You can agree to work on, say, Photoshop first, then email skills. or vice versa. The manager leads the conversation, and should identify the most important skill. The DR should feel like they're part of the conversation.

The context of career development makes the conversation work.


WillDuke's picture
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The conversation is important. As John says, nothing should ever come out of left field. As to coaching vs. supervising, where's the conflict there? Is it really productive to get into the semantics of it all?

You're the manager. You have a bird's eye view of your people. Their point of view is not as objective as yours. Yours isn't totally objective either, but you can see what it will take for them to succeed. If you don't share that with them, if you don't guide them in their development, then you're doing them a disservice.

Have the conversation with them. If they get there on their own, great. If they don't, get them there. If it's subtle nudge or an executive decision, do what's right for them.

That being said, as John pointed out there are usually many things a person can work on. Ask yourself how much it matters where they start.

andrewmullens's picture

I agree totally about the symantics thing, I think that's why I found the conversation with my collegaue so difficult.

Thanks for the comments about the fact that there are usually multiple things for people to work on at any one time. That is really helpful.

I think these comments from you and John are reaffirming what I felt after to listening to the podcast, but that I was doubting after the conversation I had with my collegaue.

Mark's picture
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Hang tight. This is a great question, and I'm pressed right now. What I have to say is different than what has already been said.