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I had the idea that coaching is based on the principle of setting general standards and then coaching people who fall short of this standard to help them improve and eventually reach the set standard. I believe that a manager using this mentality would use coaching as a tool to develop weaknesses in individuals and to make them better rounded, and thus, making all members of a team more or less uniform in their skill levels.

However, I recently heard of some new research where it is suggested that people should concentrate on their strengths and try to develop those skills instead of their weaknesses. A manager using this mentality would have different standards for different individuals. Thus, this manager would have a more diverse team (assuming that the manager did not choose team members with very similar skills), with each member becoming highly specialized in a few skills. Although there are some core skills that apply to all and cannot be overlooked, I think that this method of coaching would be more effective since each person will naturally develop more quickly in the skills that he/she is best at. Also, the resources devoted to that individual will be utilized more fully.

I understand that this is somewhat of an exaggeration, as there will always be diversity regardless of the manager, but I think that if two managers had the same exact teams with the only difference being this mentality on coaching, the latter manager would be more successful.
This is just a theoretical idea and I am not basing it on too much experience...
Thus I am curious to see what others think.
(Sorry to all the “I”s out there for the long message, hope you were able to reach the end… BTW, I’m also an “I”, so I feel your pain).

Mark's picture

Coaching is a managerial tool (a Manager Tool - one of the Management Trinity) used to improve performance of a direct report by setting goals and agreeing on action plans.

It has nothing to do with whether someone is under- or over-performing - you can use it with anyone, on ANY behavior. For some, you will work on their "weaknesses" because those are what they need to succeed. With others, you will coach them on their (already seeming) strengths, because that is what THEY need to be more effective.

That's it.

Mark