Even though everybody knows that good Project Managers should be able to effectively cooperate with their team members, not many people decide to apply coaching methods in their work – is this highly effective method of motivation underestimated by the PMs?

It is sad but true, but most Project Managers do not understand the idea of coaching and consequently miss the opportunity for the development in this area. Successful coaching training should be conducted by an experienced and qualified specialist, able to convince the participants that the whole process is worth their while and to show them how to put theory into practice. Introduction of coaching as a tool of trade has many significant advantages such as:

  • Development of trust and loyalty.
    PMs who devote their time to their employees invest in the future of their teams. Eventually, this will help them in the case of problems or crisis in the project.

  • Appropriately applied, expectations stimulate the development.
    Motivation to discover and develop one’s skills is closely related to gentle pressure to achieve the goals. The employee needs to feel that investing in oneself is important, but should not be put under too much pressure.

  • Discovering the unsuspected weaknesses in the team.
    If a team member could not find a solution to the given problem, the Project Manager should analyze the reasons of such a situation – whether it was caused by the lack of competence or by professional burnout, each problem constitutes a threat to the effective work of the whole team.

  • Stimulation of independent thinking.
    Allowing the team members to find solutions themselves makes it possible to avoid a situation in which they keep asking the same questions, hoping to get ready-made answers from their Project Manager.

Beginner coaches, Project Managers included, may have a problem related to the evaluation of positive impact of coaching methods on the work of their teams. Employees may become tired of constantly asked questions, therefore it should not be the only way to motivate and support the team. Wise managers ask their teams for the feedback, in order to balance the amount of questions being asked in relation to the amount of provided answers. Other problems include the lack of time and work in stressful conditions. It is generally easier for the Project Manager to assign the task to particular worker together with a set of instructions, but this method usually limits the possibility of personal development for the employee. Application of coaching methods under time pressure is a difficult art.

First of all, a good coach should be able to listen to the employees and to respect their values. The workers should be supported in their actions, asked questions instead of being provided with answers, encouraged to make use of their intuition (coming from the experience), while the coach should learn more about the personal preferences of the employee and, most importantly, build a relation based on trust. The factors mentioned above constitute the essence of coaching, which can be used as a tool to support the employee’s development and allows for the creation of mutual bond and loyalty.

It is natural for the Project Manager to have the team waiting for the solution? Many of us provide the ready-made instructions, but it may be a good idea to put this situation in a broader perspective and to seize the opportunity to apply coaching methods to the entire team. Instead of giving an order, you may ask the question: “Who is able to find a solution? Do you know such a person?”, “Does somebody have an idea how to solve this problem?”, “What do we need to do to achieve the established goal?”, “What do we need in order to perform our task?”. Such simple questions encourage the whole group to work together and result in the development of a solution thought over by several people, who will eventually become highly motivated to perform their task in their own, original way. Consequently, we do not only develop an optimal method of coping with the problem, but also create a more integrated and independent team, fully aware of its abilities.

You may want to ask yourself a question about the reason to become a coach of the team. The answer is surprisingly simple: because the quality of work performed by a team composed of mindful, self-reliant people who trust their Project Manager is higher than in the case of a team of workers who simply do their jobs. Meeting the expectations of your coworkers, supporting them and assisting in their development is a way to create a stable and efficient team.

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Aleksandra Grycz

Project Manager at Divante eCommerce Software House

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