Many people have been in a situation where they are questioning if it is “their place” to step in to coach someone else. In determining your role as a coach, there are factors that should be taken into consideration, such as the impact that your coaching might have on the situation, your relationship to the individual, and that individual’s supervisor if you are not it.
Recently, I had someone ask how they should coach someone that they had no direct correlation with in their work. They didn’t realize that impact that their coaching would have would not be positive, rather, would be coming from a place of annoyance, rather than a place of genuinely wanting to serve the team in a positive way. By analyzing the situation with them, we came to the conclusion together that it may be best to reach out to the individual’s direct supervisor rather than coach them directly. This particular situation hit all of the cautionary notes – the person I was working with did not have a direct relationship to the individual – however, they were familiar with the individual’s supervisor – and their coaching would have had a questionable impact on the situation. The person I spoke with went with their gut, they asked for an opinion from a removed source before approaching the situation.
So how do you decide if you should become a coach in certain situations? Go with your gut! If your brain is questioning whether or not you should step in, ask either the individual’s direct supervisor, or a trusted peer that is removed from the situation what they might do. If your brain says that you are in a position to share your input with the individual and that you can do so without stepping on toes, approach the situation with care, as the person you believe you should coach may not understand why you are coaching them. More often than not, however, it is your best bet to discuss the situation with the person’s direct manager. That way, you can be sure that the situation is addressed in the most effective way possible. A great coach goes above and beyond to ensure that their coaching is distributed appropriately.
We receive questions from clients related to this topic often, and I always tell them the same thing – the best thing you can do is ask questions and evaluate the situation before coaching. Coaching is not something to be taken lightly, and should be treated with care. By doing your due diligence and realizing that you’re not the only coach out there with the question of whether you should provide input, you’re being a greater coach than you know!