Coaching is a process designed to improve performance by enabling learning and development and can be particularly important in the finance function. Yet coaching is one of the skills that many accountants mark themselves low on. Here are some tips on how to become a better coach.
A coach is a person who gives honest feedback and support, who inspires, challenges and facilitates growth and change, and who partners with another person to achieve agreed goals.
When you are coaching, you are trying to help the individuals in your team to succeed.
It's useful to look at this in three parts:
1. What they do
You can’t prepare the published accounts or complete the audit on your own. The achievement of your own objectives is likely to be heavily, if not entirely, dependent on the individuals in your team achieving their objectives, so you have a vested interest in getting them to succeed. Helping them to focus on their objectives, to spot when they are going off track and to correct that, is a crucial part of your role.
2. How they do it
You will have some beliefs about what people need to do to be successful. They will need the right competencies and have to follow some rules or standards - these are not objectives in themselves but are designed to help people achieve objectives. A financial controller might need really good communication skills and to be able to secure the cooperation of those in other departments. No-one gets a bonus for working well with colleagues, but it will help determine their success and should, therefore, be a focus of your coaching.
3. How they can do it better
Following on from the fact that how each person currently does their job and uses their skills determines how successful they are now, the way their skills or competencies develop will be the key to their ability to achieve targets in future years. So, you need to work with them on development goals just as much as you do on specific short-term targets. This doesn’t mean you spend your whole time talking about training, it means you agree upon the issues they should work on and how you can then help them.
Successful managers are great coaches. They help their team understand "how” to do what they do. Through effective coaching, managers communicate and reinforce the way they want people to behave, sending messages out to their team as a whole through the way they deal with each individual.
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