There are three tools that can help the subordinates to improve their efficiency: teaching, mentoring, and coaching. Teaching is telling the person step by step how to accomplish the task, mentoring is to analyze the situation with the person to find out the solution, while coaching is to help the person to come up with the solution by themselves by asking the right question.
Coaching is an important skill for mangers. It help develop the subordinates’s skill by having them go through the thinking process. People would feel more empowered being coached to finish the task rather than being taught to finish the task.
Coaching can also be challenging for managers. Coaching is different from teaching, where the latter focusing on showing the people steps to solve the problem. Coaching is more about coaching people’s reaction to the question. The coach needs to quickly find out the best questions to ask in order to further the conversation.
The best questions for coaching should be open ended question. For example, ask more questions about what and why, say ask the person to define the term they use, ask them to describe their feelings, etc. Don’t ask why questions, as this would be interpreted as the challenge to their motivations, and people might response with defensiveness.
The general structure for coaching is called TOP. T stands for topic. You should ask question to help the coachee to clarify the real topics. O stands for options. You should ask right questions to help the coachee to find out different options to solve the problem. And P stands for path. In this phase, you should focus on asking the coachee to evaluate the pros and cons of different options.
However, coaching is not necessarily always the best strategy. It takes longer time to help the people develop the required skills to solve the problem. Teaching, on the other hand, is more efficient, while it is less effective in helping people develop their skills. It is really about the constraints and where we want to take the tradeoff in terms of balancing the effectiveness and efficiency.
Over 40% of the manager’s work could be delegated. But why they are not? Majority of the time it is because of the time is limited. The manager often under the pressing time constraints, many times they are promoted to their position because they could do their work better than anyone else in the team, so they tend to do the work by themselves instead of delegating to someone else, which could potentially take more time.
Another reason blocks our delegation is about the quality. Many managers worry that their direct reports could not finish the task as well as they do. It is true that it takes time to develop the team’s skill until they could deliver the task with high quality. For such concerns, the managers could gradually step back from involved in the actual task when they see the people are more and more comfortable with the work.
Sometimes, managers also worry that if they delegate, they might loss the details about the task. For such concerns, it is suggested that they focus on the output and learn the low level details when time is limited.
The other two major reasons are concerns about identity and the perception of the team. For example, the manager would worry that if they don’t any actual work, the team might think they are not doing anything. And they worry that the team might resent being asked to the work.
In order to delegate well, you need to consider about the following elements:
- Context: why you would like to delegate this work or responsibility.
- Motivation: why this person should be excited about this delegated work.
- Information: what it takes for the person to finish the task well.