In this Is This Mic On? We tackle the question of, “How do I approach 1:1 coaching?” Read on to hear what SNP had to say about the role of a coach, driving the agenda, and growth.
Talk of 1:1 coaching haunts our office. It’s all I hear about from coworkers “My coach said this”, “well my coach suggested that”. You’d think they’d signed away their souls with how much they talk about coaching. I can’t stand it! Worst of all, and here’s the kicker, I just got assigned a coach by my manager! Is this a not-too-subtle hint that I’m underperforming or something? What am I even supposed to talk about in these sessions that I’m not already talking about with my manager or my therapist? Feels like my manager is just passing the buck here. Help!
Creeping on coaching
Manager, Coach, Mentor, Leader, Therapist…Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger. House of Dragons/Game of Thrones anyone? No? Moving on.
The point is: many of us have the privilege of access to many advisory board members. Some are formal – the manager we report into. Others are organic – a college advisor we now call mentor. Some are a hybrid (sorry for using that word, again) – enter, the coach.
- Managers may coach; a coach is not your manager.
- Coaching conversations are yours to drive.
- Coaches, coaching differ: know their point of view.
Time, money, attention – spending time with a coach is an investment you are making. And if your manager/company is setting it up for you, they are investing in you. It’s not a surrogate manager. You have one of those, and that person is responsible for setting goals, driving to goals, managing PnL, identifying opportunities for team members, managing up, managing down, managing across. You get the point. A lot. That person is responsible for a lot. Your coach is there to dig specifically into your skills, your career development and your strategic priorities.
Utilizing Your 1:1 Coach
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you keep missing deadlines, from the time you are supposed to show up to meetings to the time you are supposed to get an article finished for your team’s monthly newsletter. Always late. Your manager is responsible for having that conversation with you, giving you explicit examples, identifying what’s going on, and developing a game plan through which to solve for it (yes, I just snuck in the SNP Delivering Hard Feedback framework). It’s now your responsibility to bring that to your coach. Share the gameplan. Use times with your coach to work on the skills, stay accountable, and realize where this newfound meeting-deadlines version of you will take your career.
Setting Your 1:1 Coaching Agenda
You’re wondering what to bring up with your coach, and that’s a good start. Because your coaching sessions are yours to drive. This isn’t training where you attend a topical event that usually was chosen on a team’s behalf. Influence without Power. Executive Presence. Socratic Selling Skills (I’m just showboating all of the SNP Greatest Hits today, forgive me). Unless you are signed up for a very specific set of skill-based sessions, coaching is what you need, right now, specifically, based on your experience. So you need to be able to bring in what those experiences are.
Remember that your coach by-in-large has no context of your work outside of what you tell them, so you need to paint that picture for them. One of the best dialogue openers from your coach may simply be “what’s going on?”, to which you need an answer. In order for your coaching relationship to be truly unique and truly successful, be ready to drive the agenda. Your coach will have a point of view of what skills you need to be successful, you need to be ready to share the context of your world in which the skills will be applied.
There may be a certain cache with being able to say “well, my coach said…” Again, many us have the privilege of access to many advisory board members. And while the definition of manager may be generally consistent across teams and organizations (setting goals, driving to goals, managing PnL…you get it, same as I wrote above…), the definition of coach does not.
There are coaches everywhere.
Some have carried the bag of a particular function, others have built their career coaching. Both bring relevant skills and perspectives. Some coaches spend most of their time exploring your own inner feelings and emotions. On the contrary, SNP coaches will be an advocate for your audience, giving you direct feedback on how you are being perceived externally, then moving inward to skills. Learn about the point of view of the coaching organization. They differ, and they are different.
A coach can be one member of your advisory board, and one that is not your manager. The success of a coaching relationship is very much driven by you. And coaching organizations – and the coaches therein – bring a point of view to their practice: ask about it.
Congratulations on being offered coaching. It’s an investment, and what a testament to you. And like with any advice, take it as data and perspective. You still ultimately decide what actions you will take.