Tips for Coaching on the FLY

by Laura Hansen, PCC

Many managers these days are expected to provide informal coaching  for their direct reports when development needs arise.  Sometimes those managers do not have the skill or the time to complete a full coaching discussion but need to offer something to help the person move forward with the task they are working on.  This Brief Coaching Model, developed by Catalyst Consulting Group, is a technique for such situations.  It can help achieve positive results for the person being coached in as little as ten minutes.  The process follows four steps:

  1. Identify the Development Need
  2. Identify the Desired Outcome
  3. Identify the Blocks: Personal, Others, Situation
  4. Brainstorm ideas to help close the gap between the need and the outcome
  5. Choose Action Steps and Set a Timeline

Steps for the Manager Coach

Step One – Ask the person to describe their current Development Need, with specific examples and a small amount of relevant background information.  For example, the development need may be to prioritize their workload more effectively.

Step Two – Ask him/her to describe the Desired Outcome, painting as specific a picture as possible of how things would be if s/he realized their Development Objective.  For example, if the above development need was realized, the person might have fewer occasions every month when they have to work all night to clear backlogs of work. Avoid trying to think of ‘solutions’ at this stage.

Step Three – With the person, list all the Blocks or Obstacles that lie between the current Development Need and the Desired Outcome.  Sort them into three groups:

  1. Personal Blocks: i.e. motivation, attitude towards time, difficulty saying ‘No!’
  2. Blocks that exist in other significant people: i.e. demanding peers, co-workers or direct reports who are not accountable and do not complete assignments in a timely manner.
  3. Blocks in the situation: i.e. heavy workload, inadequate resources, moving deadlines.

Step Four – Together, brainstorm ways around these blocks and possible next steps to move beyond the Obstacles.  Together, choose which approach will best close the gap between the Development Need and the Desired Outcome.  Agree on the sequence of specific actions and timing when the person will implement these.


Useful Questions for the Manager To Choose From 

Step One: Development Need

  • What are your priority Development Needs/Objectives?
  • Which Development Need, if addressed, would have the greatest impact on your productivity/job satisfaction?
  • What makes this Development Need a priority?
  • Briefly describe how this issue currently impacts you or your workload?
  • Positively state your need in terms of a Learning Objective: “To ….” (e.g. To prioritize their workload more effectively.)

Step Two: Desired Outcome

  • Visualize a time in the future when you have addressed this Development Need
  • What does it feel like now (in the future) to no longer have this Development Need?
  • What has changed? What are you doing differently now (in the future)?
  • How is this desired outcome affecting you/your workload?
  • How is it affecting your relationships with others, e.g. your supervisor or peers?

Step Three: Barriers

  • In terms of you – what might prevent you from realizing your Development Need?
  • How important is this Development Need to you?
  • Could a lack of confidence  be a potential Obstacle?
  • How about your attitude to learning new techniques or skills?
  • What’s your track record like of follow through with personal development?
  • Who else might prevent you from realizing your Development Need?
  • Why is he/she particularly significant or relevant in relationship to this Development Need?
  • How does he/she impact you now? How could they prevent you from realizing your Development Objective?
  • What situational factors might prevent you from reaching your Desired Outcome?
  • Why is this significant?
  • Could lack of time or resources get in your way?

Step Four: Brainstorm Ideas

  • What actions could help you address the Barriers you’ve identified and bridge the gap between your Development Need and the Desired Outcome?
  • What will help to overcome the Barriers – personal, others and situational?
  • What initial steps can be taken that will get you moving towards your objective or Desired Outcome?
  • What are the next logical steps or actions to follow?
  • What is your timeline to accomplish these action steps?
  • Will you commit to those action steps?
  • How confident are you that these will work?
  • Is anything else needed to achieve your Desired Outcome?

Once the manager has helped their direct report identify the Development Need, the Desired Outcome and the Blocks, and after they have brainstormed ideas to help close the gap between the need and the outcome, the direct report can begin to create an action plan to move towards their Desired Outcome.

This simple and quick coaching process of helping the employee name the issues and create a plan to reach a Desired Outcome can allow the employee to regain a sense of purpose and empowerment.  Try it and let us know how it works for you.




For more on informal coaching techniques, contact Laura for a consultation.