Tag Archives: Morag Barrett

Be the Coach You’ve Always Wanted

Guest Blog
By: Morag Barrett

Morag Barrett






Coaching is normally thought of as something that is bought in. You need a coach? You go out and get one. Maybe you always wanted one; and maybe you could only watch as your peers received the advice that you wanted from one, but didn’t.

You know, there are likely to be people who work for you who feel the same way. While there may not be coaches within your company and which they have no access to, no doubt they have friends in other companies who are benefiting in this way.

Although external coaches can bring in outside expertise as well as a fresh perspective, you are in the best position to coach your people. You see them every day. Why not take advantage of that opportunity?

In order to understand how coaching fits into organizations today, we need to revisit traditional supervision.

It started life as close supervision. It’s still used to a certain extent today. Any place where the employee has comparatively little skill compared to what is needed at the moment. It’s been said that every new employee is incompetent for six months. That’s because it takes time to learn how the organization does things. Even within the same one, different locations have their idiosyncrasies. But close supervision shouldn’t last for very long. If it does, then there will be for just one of three reasons: you’re a micro-manager; you’re a poor teacher, or you hired the wrong person.

The second type and most popular type of supervision is what might be called laissez-faire. Instead of pointing out every step, as you do with close supervision, this type is more like “course correction.” In it, your goal is to get people up and running as quickly as possible, and then to let them get on with whatever it is that they need to do. Of course, you make yourself available for help. All they have to do is ask. But for the most part, you try to leave them alone. Most employees prefer this approach, too.

The third type is coaching. This could be called a strategy for excellence. It’s using the idea of “letting people get on with their jobs” as a means, rather than an end. The end is excellence in everything: To be the best they can be so that they can be promoted so that they can develop their career so that they can coach others. The end with laissez-faire is just to let people get on with their jobs; but there’s no goal beyond that.

You may be thinking, “So what’s wrong with that? Why bother to coach people? They’ll just leave anyway, and I’ll have to start all over again.”

You may even be thinking that there are a lot of people waiting in the wings who’d be all too happy to take the job of your employees, and that because of that you don’t need to coach anyone. If that’s what you’re thinking, then you need to be aware of something. There’s a shortage of people who are skilled to the level that you want them to be. There aren’t enough to go around. And if it really does take six months to bring someone who already knows for the most part what to do up to a level where they can contribute real value to your organization on their own, then you can see already that it’s essential for you to hold onto the people you have.

Most people don’t really want to leave their current place of employment. They want to be happy where they are. Moving is a hassle at the best of times. You have to sell the house, pack your stuff, move it yourself or give it to a moving company. You have to find a place to live at the other end, buy or rent, move your stuff in, and deal with the utility and internet companies. It’s a nightmare. If you have children in school, it’s worse.

The only reason that people will leave is if they feel that you’re holding them back. As long as they feel they’re being sufficiently challenged, that they’re advancing, that they’re being compensated fairly for what they do and that you respect and value them, they’ll stay with you. And that means that you need to be their coach. In fact, you should always be coaching them.

Close supervision is simply telling people what to do. At the other extreme is laissez-faire – hardly ever doing so.

Coaching is different. In it you’re tailoring your guidance according to the needs and abilities of the individual employee; not just the organization; and when you do that, both you and those you coach benefit more than if you did nothing.

Coaching demonstrates that you value your employees. There simply is no substitute for providing individual help and encouragement.

Do you think that you’re too busy to do this? This is the most important part of any day you care to name.

Whatever else you have to do, it won’t happen without the people in your charge. You can do it with them, or you can do it alone.

It’s up to you.


Morag Barrett is the best-selling author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships and CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR consulting and leadership development company. Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing leaders and teams across Europe, America and Asia. SkyeTeam works with clients in a range of industries including: Healthcare, Telecoms, Mining, Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology.