Five Coaching Hacks

By: • 11 months ago •


Everyone knows that coaching is valuable.

The challenge is finding the time and a  fast-track process to use, given how busy most leaders are with competing priorities pulling them in multiple directions.

To accomplish more, leaders need to learn how to hack their current approach to coaching with new ways of thinking and influencing that will enable them to do more with less.

Here are five ways to make this happen.

1. Clarify the Purpose

Identify what type of coaching session it will be as well as the outcome you are aiming for before starting the session. Coaching is much more than just a talk and needs to have a clear objective.

There are three main reasons why leaders should coach their people. The first is to shift mindsets. There are times when a leader may need to shift the mindset of a direct report—maybe to open their mind to new possibilities or approaches or to shift their mindset around a particular situation or view.

The second purpose for coaching is to address performance issues—usually behavioural or skill based. Behavioural performance issues are usually not what the person is doing, but rather the way they are going about it and the negative impact they are having on the people around them. Capability performance issues relate to a person’s current skill level when performing a particular task.

The final purpose of a coaching session is as a tool for career development. Rather than waiting for the annual performance review, it can be useful to coach the skills needed and the tasks that staff will need to develop for future roles.

2. Be aware of your mindset

Leaders are often under immense pressure to get more done in less time. Before you start coaching someone, take the time to check your own state of mind and emotions. To be more effective in a coaching session you need to ensure that none of the pressure and negative stress you might be experiencing transfer to the individual you are coaching.

There have been numerous examples where staff experienced a personal attack during what was supposed to be a coaching session because their manager had not properly dealt with their stress, wasn’t focused or didn’t have the mindset at the time. If you’re emotionally charged about something that may limit your ability to coach and connect with your people you may want to delay the coaching session.

3. Identify people’s motivation

Take the time to identify what could be motivating the individual you're coaching beforehand. This will allow you to prepare the questions to ask them. In addition, during the coaching session ensure you ask them what will motivate them or why they would be willing to change, modify or do something differently and how you could help them with this. Remember the ‘why’ they do something is as important as the ‘how’ they will do it.

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4. Prepare some leading questions & choose your approach

Coaching sessions can take the form of a scheduled formal coaching session or a ‘coaching moment.’ For scheduled sessions, it can be useful to prepare a few leading questions to begin the coaching session to guide the discussion. This is even more important if the session is likely to be about performance or behavioural issues, which could make the staff member closed-minded, defensive or resistant.

‘Coaching moments’ are unscheduled coaching opportunities that transform a situation of uncertainty into one that involves a coaching session to provide insights into mindset, approach or skills.

Remember that coaching is about asking, not telling. Resist the temptation to just tell the staff member what they’re doing wrong without setting up the interaction, with their input, beforehand.

5. Document the outcome

Before finishing a coaching session make sure you document what has been agreed to. Don’t just discuss it. Commit it to paper or a tablet to allow it to be referred back to and tracked over time.

This step is often skipped, which leads to confusion around what has been agreed to and what the timeframe is for checking in and implementation.

The conceptual image of destructive competition in business. Deadly struggle between wrench and adjustable spanner.

Using these strategies and coaching hacks can help you improve your impact and approach towards your staff and fast track overall performance.

Scott Stein has helped thousands of leaders implement fast-track strategies that improve results.

He is a leading international speaker and an expert on leadership and influence who helps many of the world’s best-known brands and government agencies to mobilise their leaders and their people.

He is the author of the new book, Leadership Hacks: Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results (Wiley).

For more information visit

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