Know When to Coach and When to Teach

Cperky's Blog

To develop your employees’ skills, evaluate the situation before choosing an approach. Are you working with someone who’s inexperienced or a colleague who requires immediate improvement? If so, you’ll want to take a directive approach and teach, showing or telling her what to do—give clear instructions, answer questions, or have her shadow you on a project so she can learn by observing.

Otherwise, you’re probably better off with a more supportive approach; coach by asking questions that prompt her to think and solve problems, rather than just doling out advice. Use the moment as an interactive opportunity to discover and create new solutions. When coaching, ask more than you tell—aim for a ratio of about 4:1. If you flip that ratio, you’re teaching.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Coaching Your Employees.

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