Over coaching or under coaching?
With so much of our time as leaders spent coaching, developing, and motivating others, it can be tricky getting the balance right between structure and space.
I've been coaching for almost 40 years and of all the challenges I've faced as a coach, this is for me, the hardest one.
Under pressure, often with an average or under performer it can be very tempting to want to get heavily involved and start to over coach. I'll be thinking, surely it shouldn't be that hard to just fix this and that and we'll have the issue solved. Unfortunately, it's rarely that simple.
Certainly, there will be some individuals who will benefit from extra attention. You can build a plan together, identify how often to coach them and clearly articulate what you think would be the best process to follow.
However, as the years roll by, I've found that in a lot of cases, getting out of the way and creating space works better. You'll find out sooner if they really want to improve and have the desire to make the (small) changes you've worked on with them. Like most things in life, it depends on the context or the situation. My view is, if in doubt, under coach. Give them guidance, tips and tools, then get out of their way. You'll soon find out, and so will they, if progress is being made.
One of the problems I have with the endless layers of coaches in professional sport is the over coaching issue. The coaches feel they need to justify their wage and need something to do. Hence they spend time meddling and interfering with players in a bid to "help them improve and step up". Yes, in certain cases a great coach can make a big difference. In many cases, though a player, can learn more about themselves and their game by having a long hard look in the mirror, a 1-1 with Senior players and by watching what better performers do and trying to emulate them.
When you are working with someone who has more than adequate skills and is reasonably motivated, the role of the coach becomes more of a guide or a Mentor. Empower them by giving them space. Tap into their motivators and work together to achieve better results. Collaborate and set some stretch goals. Getting them motivated and enthused is over half the battle. Let's face it, we all have days when we feel a bit flat or have lost our mojo. There are a range of techniques you can use as a coach to help get them going again. This might include a change of role, a special assignment or getting them to take a holiday.
As a leader and as a coach you'll always walk that fine line between structure and space. If in doubt, I say give them plenty of space.