Does your organization value coaching?  (HINT: The "correct” answer is almost always yes.)

Does your organization actually do coaching?

The common answer to that question ranges from “maybe” to “not everyone does it” to “probably not well”.

So why is coaching not happening?

When we talk to VPs and Directors about why their managers don’t coach, they say three “reasons” often come up:

  • No time.

  • No skills.

  • No structure.

Let’s dig a little deeper:

  1. No time to coach. This is the #1 reason managers give for not coaching their people as much they should. There’s no question that managers today are buried by incoming texts and emails, virtual and face-to-face meetings, management and stakeholder reports, compliance and regulatory concerns, and customer problems – and sometimes the expectation that they are available 24/7 to solve them. It doesn’t help that one of the reasons a top performer is promoted to manager is that they were good at doing their job – which is often defined as completing more tasks than others. As a new manager they now have even more tasks to perform; so they often respond with what they know best: a heads-down attack on completing as many tasks as possible in a day. But suddenly, the day is done and they realize they still haven’t carved out some time for one of their most important new tasks: coaching their people.

  2. No coaching skills. Why aren’t managers making the time to coach? Many may not know what to do. They may be conflict adverse and delivering bad news or criticism in a constructive way is difficult and uncomfortable. But coaching is a learned skill. Once leadership trains managers, gives them the tools and holds them accountable for coaching, most managers will develop into effective coaches. And leaders often tell us that managers, with practice, often find they are more skilled at coaching than they originally thought.

  3. No structure. Even given the time and willingness to coach, many managers say they don’t have the structure or context to think from when it comes to developing their people. Leadership needs to communicate their expectations about coaching. Managers need to stop confusing weekly or monthly check-in meeting regarding the numbers, on-going projects and activities with coaching. It’s not. But leaders tell us that managers don’t “get it”; they insist they are coaching when in reality they are just managing the day-to-day activities of the business.

In our experience, there are two other factors that contribute to why managers don’t coach:

  • No accountability. Many leaders mention that there are no real metrics to determine if coaching is really happening, and if it is, how effective the coaching is. Just asking direct reports about their manager’s coaching skills often backfires. The direct report tends to over-report the amount and effectiveness of coaching – either out of fear of retaliation by the manager or the fear that they manager actually will start coaching and the employee has neither the time nor desire to be coached!

  • No way to scale. Teams today are increasing virtual, geographically distributed, and organized around projects rather than functional areas. Employee turnover is constant – often driven by Millennials who come to the workplace with very different expectations regarding coaching, work/life boundaries, and workplace tenure. Travel is expensive and time consuming. Some technical solutions for collaboration and communication are available, but most are not designed specifically for coaching and skill development.

Is there a solution to helping managers coach more and coach more effectively?

SkillFitness was founded and is staffed by a team of senior business people that have three traits in common:

  • We have all led large sales, product management, field technical support and customer service teams – often distributed on a global basis;

  • We have all worked in adult education and participated first-hand in using technology to scale education and training solutions in ways that were never before possible;

  • We all wanted to “scratch our own itch”! We were frustrated with our ability to coach our managers and their ability – or inability – to coach their teams.

So we decided to build a better way to coach.

SkillFitness is a video-based, mobile learning platform built to enable rapid skill development though practice and microcoaching.

Microcoaching are coaching sessions conducted in very small periods throughout the day, week or month. These brief bits of coaching increase the number of “touches” between the coach and the trainee. And that is the secret to its effectiveness.

The way SkillFitness works is by having learners view a short, bite-sized video of the concept or skill they want to master on their smart phone or tablet; use the built-in camera on their mobile device to practice and capture a video “selfie” of themselves demonstrating what they’ve learned; and then submit their best attempt to their manager for feedback and coaching.

How does SkillFitness help address the issues around managers not coaching?

  • Time. SkillFitness turns any mobile device into a powerful anytime, anywhere coaching platform. Managers tell us that using SkillFitness allows them and their teams to fit learning and coaching into spare moments in their already busy schedules.

  • Coaching Skills. SkillFitness breaks skill and performance development into small, bite-sized chunks that make sense to both the coach and trainee. The coach only needs to provide feedback on that specific module, making the process of coaching much less overwhelming and much more focused.

  • Structure. SkillFitness is designed around adult learning techniques that are focused on the proven way adults learn best, incorporate coaching and feedback, and produce outcomes and results.

  • Accountability. Built-in dashboards track trainee, manager and team engagement, mastery and effectiveness. You’ll know who is coaching and how good they are at it.

  • Scale. Is SkillFitness right for every coaching situation? Of course not. But coaching can be divided into addressing two broad issues:

    • Personal attributes – these are individual employee issues such level of engagement, interpersonal relationships, and personality conflicts that are often best addressed though one-on-one, individualized coaching.

    • Professional skills – these are job and performance related skills that are often specific to a function and necessary to produce results. Every employee within that function needs to master these skills. In Sales, for example, these skills might include presenting product benefits, countering objections, and techniques for closing the sale.

Sometimes, especially for Millennial employees, coaching is less about skill development and more about aligning the employee’s expectations and desires with the corporate culture.  For example, when onboarding new employees, coaching might include articulating the organization’s mission, exploring how the organization’s values align with personal values, or outlining the employee’s personal aspirations for career development.

SkillFitness allows managers to scale coaching in these areas, freeing up more time for one-on-one coaching where needed.

Microcoaching works to encourage more coaching and better coaching. For teams using SkillFitness, it’s not unusual to see coaching sessions increase from once a month or a couple times a year, to daily or even several times a day. And managers report that the multiple, easily executed coaching sessions improve their coaching skills.

If your managers aren’t coaching, try microcoaching.  Sometimes a little coaching, delivered the right way, goes a long way.

Want to learn more about microlearning and microcoaching? Read our blog post on using microlearning and microcoaching to onboard Millennials.


Schedule your personal, one-on-one, online demo today!

Or contact us to learn more about SkillFitness.