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The Coach Approach to Management

Coaching VS Managing – What’s the difference?

There are many leaders and managers who believe they are ‘coaches’ of their team at work. However, many of these same managers are vague about how coaching conversations vary from management interactions.

Coaching for performance is a proactive and skilled practice that requires its own skillset. In coaching conversations, managers apply these skills to enhance performance of their team and the individuals in that team.

This does not mean that managers need to do extensive coach training to start to incorporate some of these practices into their 1 on 1 conversations with their team members. Understanding some of the subtleties of coaching can help any manager adjust their style to reflect a ‘coach approach’ to management, and as a result, aid in transforming your good team into a great team.

So, what is the difference between coaching and managing?

In simple terms, coaching is asking questions to generate reflection and ideas, whereas managing tends to involve providing feedback, guidelines or advice. Coaching promotes curiosity and explores the potential of another person through reflective questions. Coaching conversations enhance performance because the answers to questions come from the individual themselves rather than from someone else, which results in greater ownership and connection with the answers.

How does this look in practice? The Coaching Conversation

A practical model to coaching is Sir John Whitmore’s GROW for goal setting and problem solving:

  • Goals – what do you want/need to achieve?
  • Reality – what is actually possible? (examine barriers, etc)
  • Options – what are your options?
  • Will – what will you do?

This model can be further expanded to GROWTH to incorporate:

  • Tactics – how will you do it? (identify actions)
  • Habits – how do you need to change to achieve this? (look at behaviours, boundary setting, etc.)

A manager’s use of the GROWTH model helps their team members set realistic and achievable goals that they take accountability for. It sets clear actions to achieve goals, as well as allowing an individual to reflect on how they might need to do things differently in order to achieve their goals. This in turn brings about insight, and personal growth that increases their ability to perform more effectively.

The benefits of coaching

Coaching when done well, doesn’t just increase performance but increases potential, as team members explore, learning to reflect on their motivations, behaviours, and beyond the confines of their defined roles. It is also a great way to develop soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and time management.

Through these individual benefits, practices will grow through:

  • Better employee loyalty and retention, a crucial factor in today’s marketplace
  • Higher morale, which naturally increases productivity and makes your workplace a nicer place for everyone
  • Greater ownership and accountability 
  • Increased creativity and innovation as people are more willing to offer up solutions and step outside their comfort zones
  • Greater individual performance
  • Better business outcomes generally.

Call to action – creating a coaching culture

More savvy employees know exactly what an ‘employer of choice’ provides and will seek, and stay with, the businesses that meet their needs. Therefore, make a coach approach to management a strategic priority for your firm today, promoting a culture where people are genuinely invested in each other and supportive of each other’s development.

The Team at Balanced Scoreboard understand the specific challenges small to medium sized professional service practices face. They also understand the pressure on current leaders to proactively attend to areas such as culture and talent management. Utilising their industry specific know-how can give you the professional edge that attracts and retains quality people.

Contact Balanced Scoreboard to find out more about how they can help you develop a coaching culture in your business. They can assist you to deliver and implement strategies for recognising, retaining, and rewarding your greatest asset, your people, and transforming your good team into a great team.

For further information, enquire today via

You can also view our Blog ‘Why Balanced Scoreboard’ to see what a Talent Management Strategy includes.