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Submitted by EJNIV on


Coaching is a key component of the Management Trinity "plus one."

There is some research (Conference Executive Board - Sales) that suggests 3-5 hours per sales rep per month provides greatess retention, engagement, ROI, etc.

BlessingWhite Consulting in their 2009 report "The Coaching Conundrum" (available from their website after registering reports that "best coaches" dedicate 20-40% of their time to coaching (!!!!! - and I wonder how they get anything else done!).

Any data on "optimal" coaching hours per month?  Any personal stories on what you have found "ideal?"

Managers have misconceptions about coaching (and feedback, one-on-ones) and I emphasize that coaching does not have to take LOTS of time, and in fact just in time (JIT) coaching can be successful and powerful and done in 10 minutes or less in many cases.

Would love your thoughts.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 I think it depends on your environment.  If you're managing a fairly static team who have been doing the same job the same way for a long time and there's unlikely to be any changes in the near future then you're probably not going to spend a huge amount of time on coaching.  If the team is more fluid and/or there are regular changes to the way you work then you're probably going to spend more time on coaching. 

It also depends on how you define coaching.  Following the definition used in the MT casts on coaching you might only spend 10 minutes a week on coaching.  When I was talking about coaching with our head of HR a couple of years ago he defined the MT method of coaching as mentoring and coaching as the manager delivering training.  If you follow that definition then you're going to spend a lot more time on it.



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"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack


EJNIV's picture
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Great points Stephen, thanks.

The definition we use in our coach training programs for managers is from the book "Leader as Coach" by Peterson and Hicks and seems consistent with the MT definitions.  We emphasize that coaching is about equipping employees with knowledge, skills, etc. and NOT about taking the "monkey" off their backs.  To me, training "may" be one component of some coaching, but I see training and coaching as being different.  Training is a lot of telling whereas coaching is about asking those "powerful coaching questions" so the employee does the work, is involved, and discovers some answers.  Sir John Whitmore (Coaching for Performance book, 4th edition) reminds us that "great" coaching is about increasing awareness and responsibility.

I also agree with Mark and Mike that coaching can be done in 5 to 10 minutes a week, so no excuses for not coaching.  It may also be about the quality of the coaching v. quantity.  Doing more "bad" coaching will be just doing more of the same hoping for different results :-)

Thanks again and hope others jump in.



Mark's picture
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I think, despite our narrow definition, that great managers are always coaching, always guiding, always thinking about the interaction of their team member's skills, their priorities, and the needs of the firm.  Sometimes it's just a reminder about what's important, sometimes it's straight forward feedback, sometimes it's pointing out something done well that might not be important now but will be in their next job.

Our narrow definition of coaching also suggests that the answer really can be 15-30 minutes a month.  The REASON we have such a tight definition (which limits my ability somewhat to have these more expansive conversations, despite my enjoyment of them) is that we believe ideas have to be TEACHABLE for them to have value for an organization.  So, we give coaching clear limits, and describe it in detail, so anyone can do it. 

The problem of the more expansive definition (which many great managers would use, ala, "I'm always coaching") is that it's just impossible to teach.  And, if we want more managers coaching, Mike and I have learned that we have to give them something usable.

So: I would coach ala MT 15-30 minutes a month per direct...and I would ALWAYS have a coaching mindset.  The best managers do.


EJNIV's picture
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Thanks Mark, and I agree.  Best managers ARE almost always coaching secondary to so many teachable moments.  Best managers are JIT (just in time) coaches, and best managers are the ones who coach primarily through asking powerful coaching questions v. telling (imo).

If anyone is interested in "coaching questions," I think the book by Tony Stolfzfus "Coaching Questions: A Coach's Guide to Power Asking Skills ($14.99 at to be one of the best I've seen.


EJNIV's picture
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If you are members of Corporate Leadership Council HR or Learning & Development (or other components), I really encourage you to take advantage of the resource.

I had a detailed response to my request for research on this issue. Although I have not yet made time to wade through the extensive resources, here are some highlights:

"CLC research found that 93% of learning executives consider coaching, provided by the employees’ direct manager, one of the top drivers of senior-leadership bench strength. While executives agree on coaching’s importance, many struggle to quantify the amount of time managers should spend on coaching activities and even to define quality coaching itself" (personal communication from our CLC representative).

From Sept 2010 CLC Learning & Development document "Engaging Managers to Drive Employee Performance and Development"

Although managers TIME DOES NOT EQUAL EFFECTIVENESS invest significant time into development of their direct reports, their time investments are not resulting in increased effectiveness.
■ Despite their constraints, managers allocate one-fifth of their time to employee development.
■ However, managers that spend more time ondevelopment are no more effective than those who spend less time" (page 7).

A chart on page 7 evaluating effectiveness showed no (significant) difference between those who spend less than 5 minutes, 5-15 mins, all the way up to more than 2 hours per day (yeah, right!) - all were daily. The chart on effectiveness levels off at 15-30 mins per day.

Michael Bungay Stanier ( does a fabulous workshop on "Coaching for Great Work." He emphasizes that coaching should take no more than 10 minutes (per coaching opportunity) and preaches "lazy coaching." I'm a big fan of his work because it emphasizes the use of powerful coaching questions and really keeps the focus ont he coachee doing the work while we serve as thought partners, etc. As suggested in the initial respones to my post, I think it does come down to the quality not quantity of coaching.

IMO above CLC research is consistent with Mark and Mike's discussions.