Tag Archives: Leadership & Management

Selecting an appropriate coaching style

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about using a coaching style to get the best from your team.

This approach will have a different outcome depending on where people sit in the ‘skill will’ matrix.

The skill will matrix looks at two dimensions. On the one hand it takes into account someone’s ‘skill’. Here we look at their capabilities based on their experience, knowledge and skill. Even someone with little experience in a particular role or task may still have the knowledge to understand what is required (e.g. how to deal with customers will be from someone’s own experience of being on the receiving end of customer service).

On the other axis we look at someone’s willingness or motivation to perform a particular task. Someone can be quite skilled at a task, but still not be motivated to do it.



 The Problem Child

Knows how but isn’t willing

Coach to motivate


The Star Performer

Can and Will

Coach to develop and progress


 The Under Achiever

Neither willing nor able

Coaching less effective and hard work


 The Apprentice

Willing but lacks the know how

Coaching help to apply learning



Let’s consider what role coaching has to play in each of these four quadrants.

Top right – Star Performers

The aim of coaching here is to stretch people. This does not necessarily mean you are grooming them for a bigger or better job; your aim is to at least make them even better at the existing task, and to prevent them moving across into the top left box.

These people are the ones who will be most receptive to a non-directive coaching approach.

Top left – Problem Child

These are people who are quite capable, but not motivated. Often this same person may have been motivated at some point, but over a period of time has crept across into this box due to boredom or lack of recognition. Or they may move from willing to unwilling due to a one off event e.g. something has gone wrong, and they have lost confidence.  Either way your aim is to get them back into the star performer box, so you need to either enthuse them or rebuild their confidence. By using a non-directive approach you will be more likely to get buy in from them, and more likely to get them to recognise their own abilities to build confidence. However people in this category can sometimes be cynical or suspicious of you using a non-directive approach, so tread carefully.

Bottom right – The Apprentice

People new to their role or to a particular task will often be enthusiastic, but lack the skills or knowledge needed. Here you need to use a combination of direction followed by non-directive coaching to guide them put their new knowledge and skills into practice. Again you aim is to move them into the top right-hand box.

Bottom left – Under achiever

Coaching does not suit every situation or person.  The nearer people sit to the bottom left hand corner the more directive you will need to be.

Recognise that individual employees will sit in different boxes on different tasks. Someone who is a star performer in some areas, may lack motivation in others, and may be taking on new tasks from time to time which can put them in wither of the two bottom boxes. Equally someone who is an under achiever in some tasks may still sit in any one of the other boxes for other task.

Do you know where each of your team sit on the matrix for each of the tasks they are responsible for?

Coaching and leadership styles will be covered in detail in my forthcoming Leading for Peak Performace programme which is being launched in late September.

Do your staff need your direction all the time?

Have you ever noticed when you are away for a day or two, or even a few hours, your team seem to be able to solve their own problems?  Having to deal with every question or every problem your staff face can be draining for you and does little to develop your team.

A couple of week’s ago I wrote about using the GROW model, which can be used to great effect to tap into people’s potential when solving problems or improving performance. It is based on the principle that the coach (the line manager) asks questions and draws the answer from the employee. This leads to increased awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and good development.

But it’s not appropriate for every situation. So when can you use this approach, and when do you need a more direct approach?

There are 2 key considerations

The situation and the person


A directive approach will be more appropriate when:

  • It calls for speed
  • There’s no opportunity for risk
  • There’s no debate as all the decisions have been made
  • When you need to retain full control
  • When the person has neither the capability or willingness to resolve the problem themselves


However bear in mind that this approach

  • Limits potential
  • Limits innovation
  • Assumes you are right
  • Adds potential for error
  • Gives no ownership or responsibility
  • Does not develop people
  • Can add a fear factor


A non directive approach conversely:

  • Develops people assuming they have the basic experience or knowledge to build on
  • Gives them ownership
  • Helps with problem solving as it generates more than one solution
  • It gives a sense of achievement
  • It builds people’s confidence if they come up with their own solutions
  • Takes the pressure off you in the long term as people get used to coming up with solutions
  • Doesn’t need you to always know the answer


So the following situations might lend themselves to a non directive approach

  • There is reduced risk, or at least an opportunity to monitor or correct things before putting anything at risk
  • The employee has the appropriate skills, experience or knowledge to work things out for themselves (even if they don’t have the willingness to do so)
  • There is some degree of flexibility in the way something can be approached (even if the end result is not negotiable, such as legal requirments or demanding targets)
  • It is not time critical and provides some time for the employee to think or talk it through


Most often speed is given as a reason not to use a non directive appraoch.

We need to make a decision on this now; we can’t keep the customer waiting while we sit and discuss it.

In this instance use a non directive approach initially, then go back after the event and discuss with the employee what they would do in similar circumstances to resolve the problem.

Clearly if you are someone’s line manager they will have an expectation to get guidance from you on how they should do their job, but to get their buy in and to develop them put some of the onus on them to come up with their own ideas and solutions as often as possible.


Coaching skills will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme which is being launched in September.

Solving an Issue

Here are two sets of questions to use to solve a problem or issue.

Take your problem and work through the first set of questions.

  1. What is the problem?
  2. How long have you had it?
  3. Whose fault is it?
  4. Who is to blame?
  5. What is your worst experience with this problem?
  6. Why haven’t you solved it yet?

How do you feel? Probably not very positive or motivated to do much about the problem!


Now work through the problem using the following set of questions.

  1. What do you want instead of the issue?
  2. How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
  3. How can it be solved?
  4. Who can help you reach this objective quickly?
  5. What resources will help?
  6. What can be learnt from this matter?


How do you feel about the problem this time around?

The first set of questions all look at directing blame.

The second set are aiming to resolve the problem.

These are great questions to ask your team when asking them to look for solutions to problems. Try using them in one to ones or team meetings when problem solving, and see what results you get.


Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme

Spur of the moment meetings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 5

Don’t forget the value of the impromptu communication. This might be anything from a simple “thank you everyone” at the end of a busy shift, to the ’emergency briefing’ when something big hits. The thing is these are impromptu – either loses its impact if scheduled in advance and in the case of the emergency briefing the jungle drums and rumours will take over if delayed.

Communication was one of the topics covered in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge” series of interviews, and   my new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.

Regular one to ones

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 4

Never under estimate the impact of sitting down with each member of staff on a one to one basis. Note here the term regular. These should be scheduled so staff can plan for them and around them. And nothing smacks more of “I’m not valued” that one to one meetings being continually cancelled for the slightest reason.

One to ones should be more than just a review of performance. Yes, that’s a part, but they should also be an opportunity to:

  • Giving feedback on specifics (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-rescources/ for a full article on feedback)
  • Talk about their ideas
  • Where they need support and development
  • What you want from them, and they want from you in future
  • Setting goals and direction for the coming weeks and beyond

However these will only be valued if you are true to your word and honour any promises made and can back up your feedback (good or bad) with timely examples. If people’s previous experience of one to one meetings up till now has been bad or at best just a waste of time, it can take time to build trust before these can be totally honest exchanges.

Tomorrow we’ll cover spur of the moment meetings.

One to one’s are a key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme

Regular update meetings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 3

Regular meetings – weekly, fortnightly or monthly give an opportunity to:

  • Share ideas
  • Give and get updates on what’s happening across departments, to encourage teamwork
  • How the business is performing at operational level and any changes necessary or areas of focus
  • Changes happening in the business and how these might affect staff (before they happened and the rumours take over)
  • Give regular on going training or development

These type of meetings need to be two-way, (not the type of’ town hall’ address) and an opportunity for your team to have their say and put forward their ideas and suggestions. You may be pleasantly surprised at how resourceful they can be in finding solutions to problems. Often they add a fresh perspective.

Tomorrow we’ll cover one to one meetings.

Communication was one of the topics covered in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge” series of interviews.


Daily Briefings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 2

A daily briefing (with the whole team if numbers are small enough to make this logistically possible is ideal, or by department) can update everyone on anything that affects that day’s operation. It’s also a great way to get feedback from them too on things that need addressing sooner rather than later.

Cover such information as:

  • VIP guests
  • Special needs (e.g. disabled guests, special diets)
  • Regular guests and any known preferences, so staff can anticipate their requirements
  • Today’s menu and tasting, with details of all the ingredients of each dish, what to promote today, and what’s in short supply (even if only one dish has changed from yesterday’s menu, make sure it is communicated)
  • What special offers, events or deals you have coming up that need to be mentioned
  • What other activity there is in the hotel or surrounding area that could affect service in any way, e.g. maintenance, road works, concerts, weather.
  • Staff shortages, and cover of responsibilities


These actions ensure your staff are fully briefed and competent to deal with any guest’s queries or concerns.

A daily briefing also provides an opportunity for you to get feedback on any guest comments. You can discuss any questions or suggestions your team may have about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service or sales potential of the hotel. So, even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and it’s generally your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for increasing sales.

Tomorrow we’ll look at regular update meetings.

My new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 1

There’s nothing more frustrating, and demotivating for staff than lack of communication and being kept in the dark. Unless people know what’s expected of them and what’s going on you’ll end up with an unhappy team, and ultimately an impact on performance levels and increased staff turnover.

Hopefully the communication starts with a thorough induction, which includes not only an outline of their job and what’s expected of them, but how their contribution fits into the bigger picture, the values and culture of the business and an insight into what happens in other parts of the business.

But recognise that a one-off training session will never be enough.

Your staff need to be kept up-to-date all the time.  They need to know what is going on in the business, and how this will affect them and they need feedback on how they are doing.  Here are four ways to keep your staff up to date and let them know their contribution is important and valued.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the importance of the daily briefing.

Good communication is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme

Using the Coaching GROW model

coaching modelI’ve been running a coaching skills workshop this week and it has reminded me of the simplicity and power of this simple coaching model. A word of warning, this is not for the control freaks!

The model is GROW, probably one of most widely known coaching models.


It is not appropriate for every situation, but can be used to great effect to tap into people’s potential. It is based on the principle that the coach asks questions and draws the answer from the coachee or employee. This leads to increased awareness, better buy in and commitment, increases confidence and  good development.


Setting the overall coaching objectives and the goals for the coaching session. Goals need to be SMART* There may two types of goal – one long term goal, then a short term goal for the session. Goals need to focus on what will be observed or happening once it is achieved.


Checking and raising awareness of the situation right now. This brings out the coachee’s perception of the situation which can sometimes be very different from the manager’s. It is important that the manager does not make assumptions about what is happening, even if they think they already know! It is important to get a full a picture as possible about what is happening to get to the root of the problem.


Finding alternative strategies, solutions, answers. This is usually the hardest part for the manager acting as coach, as it is all too easy to give the answers or make suggestions. This means the employee will continue to be dependent on the manager to come up with solutions and not have to think for themselves. It is far more rewarding for the employee to come up with their own solutions.


Testing commitment to the goal, making concrete, realistic plans to reach it. We’ve all been to meetings when there has been a lot of talk and ideas and then you meet again a few weeks later and nothing has happened. The same will happen following a coaching session if there is no summing up of the course of action, and commitment from the coachee to take action.

This format works well for for day to day discussions in supporting your team in their work, as well as more formal one to one discussions on performance, objective setting, and development planning. It also gives a structure to use in team meetings for group problem solving.

So next time one of your team comes to you with a problem, before you just tell them what to do, stop and consider if they could come up with the solution themselves by exploring each of these 4 questions.

This and other topics will be covered in my new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.

* See full article on setting SMART goals

Can you train leadership?

As I work on my new on line leadership coaching programme for hoteliers I was asked today if you can train leadership.  Good question; and brings us back to one of those perennial questions – are leaders born or made?

According to extensive long term research carried out by CHPD (for whom I work as an external leadership consultant) a proportion of leadership performance is influenced by personality, values, beliefs and attitudes, which are either inherent or formed relatively early in life. A second component is the person’s skills and experience, which although can’t change over night, can be developed over time. But by far the biggest proportion of leadership performance is determined by our behaviours, which are the easiest component to change.

So can you train leadership? Yes, I believe you can. Providing you identify the behaviours needed and then work on developing those behaviours that will give the biggest impact on a person’s performance.

These might not be where the person is weakest. Rather than plugging a gap to develop a weak spot (unless it is having a detrimental impact) and end up with mediocre performance, it may be better to capitalise on a person’s strengths and develop those instead. (I think back to my recent interview with Peter Thomson – “people will never consistently do who they aren’t”.) Then set up teams where individuals complement one another. Think of a football team; if someone showed an aptitude to do well in goal, you would be more likely to develop this skill rather than try to develop this person in every other aspect of playing football; what you are more likely to do is develop their goal keeping skills.

One of the first things to do in changing someone’s behaviours is making them aware – being aware of what they are doing, and the impact this has (see article on feedback), then help them identify how to build on positive behaviours and change negative behaviours.

Foundations in Leadership is a new approach to hospitality leadership development. Do you ever feel you aren’t getting everything you want from your team?  Instead would you love to tap into their true potential so you can focus on the bigger picture? Find out more about the programme here and take advantage of the fast action bonuses.