The Crucial Coaching Duo: Skill and Will

Selecting the Appropriate Coaching Style

All too often we assign a task to someone and the job does not quite get done well enough. Why is this?

One of the most likely reasons is that we have delegated the task to someone who is unwilling or unable to complete the job, and have then remained relatively ‘hands on’. Or we have been directive with a capable person who is quite able to complete the assignment with little assistance from us – we just end up demotivating her/him.

Consequently, whenever you are ‘coaching’ or just ‘managing’, it is critical to match your style of interaction with the coachee’s readiness for the task.

To help you do this, use the skill/will matrix:

  • First diagnose the coachee’s skill and will to accomplish the task (see below).
  • Then use the matrix to identify the appropriate style of interaction, e.g. you would want to use “Delegate” if your coachee was high in both skill and will.
  • Finally agree with your coachee which style you will be using and for what reasons.

A few observations:

Ensure you are addressing the coachee’s skill and will to execute the specific task in question. For example, making presentations to the Board of Directors rather than just ‘public speaking’.

If you are working with someone over a longer period, you will want them to increase in both skill and will. If they are successful in doing this, you will gradually need to adopt the appropriate styles en route to “Delegate”.

The Skill/Will Matrix

How to use the matrix:

  1. First diagnose the coachee’s skill and will to accomplish the task.

Skill – depends on experience, training, understanding and role perception
Will – depends on desire to achieve, incentives, security and confidence

  1. Then use the matrix to identify the appropriate style of interaction. For example, you would want to use “Delegate” if your coachee was high in both skill and will. Or, if the coachee has high will but low skill for the task, “Guide” would be apposite.
  2. Finally, agree with your coachee which style you will be using and for what reasons.

The Skill/Will Matrix

DIRECT (skill and will are both low)

  • First, build the will
    • Provide a clear briefing
    • Identify motivations
    • Develop a vision for future performance
  • Then build the skill
  • Structure tasks for quick wins
  • Coach and train
  • Then sustain the will
    • Provide frequent feedback
    • Praise and nurture
  • BUT supervise closely with tight control and clear rules/deadlines

GUIDE (low skill, high will)

  • Invest time early on
    • Coach and train
    • Answer questions and explain
  • Create a risk free environment to allow early mistakes/learning
  • Relax control as progress is shown

EXCITE (high skill, low will)

  • Identify reason for low will – eg, task or management style or personal factors
  • Motivate
  • Monitor, feedback

DELEGATE (skill and will are both high)

  • Provide freedom to do the job
    • Set objective, not method
    • Praise, don’t ignore
  • Encourage coachee to take responsibility
    • Involve in decision making
    • Use “tell me what you think”
  • Take appropriate risks
    • Give more stretching tasks
    • Don’t over manage

(Taken from The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg, ISBN 000638811 6)

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Published

5 years ago : Feb 27, 2016

By Julia Menaul

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