The Care and Feeding of Coaches

28 April, 2009 (20:35) | Blog | By: admin

By: Michael Neill

In my job, I perform a great deal of coaching, training, and work with many middle level managers to develop their coaching skills.  I never cease to be amazed at the level of commitment and energy displayed by this particular group.  However, when we begin the process of coaching development I sometimes receive initial resistance from this group that falls into the following areas: 

  1. I don’t have time to coach
  2. How will I know I am doing it correctly? 

Once we address these two issues effectively, I have found that the middle managers, in most instances, will do all in their power to do what is asked of them.  Some have a positive attitude about it and some do it just because it has been given to them as an assignment.  In any case the work gets done. 

Upon my first visit back to the client to debrief and review with the coaches, I am invariably presented with this challenge.  “I have been doing my coaching, but who is supposed to be my coach?”  I inform them that their manager is their coach and has been given a plan of action to work with as well.  The response all too often is, “Well it ain’t been happening!” 

Why does this happen?  It would seem, upon initial thought, that those who have risen highest within the financial institution must have developed more advanced coaching skills through training opportunities, experience, etc.  Too often, however, I find some Senior Managers mistake management as coaching.  In addition, some feel that they are already doing a fine job of coaching and that the developmental process of coaching is for those managers and supervisors lower in the chain of command.  


If this is the case, why then does coaching development have a tendency to be more problematic for many Senior Managers? 

  1. Many Senior Managers have risen through the finance and operations ranks, as have many of us, by being fast, accurate, possessing great technical skills and knowledge of procedures.  Therefore, some may feel that what got them there will keep them there.
  2. Because so much focus has been placed on the skills and knowledge listed in point 1, self-esteem is derived from these talents while a lack of confidence exists in the area of coaching.
  3. The CEO track is often the CFO track.  Understanding of analysis, strategy and finance comes more easily to the left brainers than do intuitive people skills.
  4. The span of control is very significant for these fine folks.  Between the responsibility for several departments and the invariable meetings that seem to never end they ask, “How can I get face time to be able to coach?”

The question remains, can we get this done?  Can we balance coaching and management effectively at the Senior Level?  Yes, and we must! Check here in the next issue to find out how Senior Managers can develop into the type of coaches that earn respect and improve their charges to their highest potential.

Michael Neill is the president of Michael Neill & Associates, Inc.  Since 1998 MNA worked with credit unions and banks to assist them in the development of a lasting and effective sales and service culture.  Credit unions can find out more at and banks may visit

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