Here's how to coach your directs (tips from a professional coach)

Hey Everyone!

As a professional coach, my manager-clients often ask me, "But... How do I coach my directs? How exactly?"

If you're a caring engineering manager, you are invested personally in the growth of your directs (not just your product/service).

So, I wrote a mini-guide to help the managers out there. Hope you find this helpful. If you love this and want a deeper dive, I'm going to send a longer form of this article in my newsletter tomorrow. You can subscribe here.

Connect with me on LinkedIn to follow my work.

First, Why Coaching Is So Important

Think of coaching as a "Co-creation" with your direct. Co-creation for what? -- for their career and the next version of themselves.

Co-creation for your product/service/vertical is called brainstorming. That's why they don't belong in 1x1s.

When you recognize high-performers for who they are and who they want to be and actively support them with the growth they want, their investment in your team and you is higher. They 'exceed expectations' each time.

So don't just say... KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

Seriously, it's not a compliment. It's patronizing.

COACH well or increase the likelihood of losing them to a different company or losing their investment in your team. Give them a reason to work hard for you.

Now, there are a LOT of managers who don't coach well but get 99 points on the employee happiness index. (And their 1x1s are something like, "This happened over the weekend, and I designed this feature this way.")

But I just don't think this is a viable strategy if you care enough to develop leaders and want to grow as a leader yourself.

So, the 1x1 is here, What Do I Do?

Step1: Start by drawing out their vision for themselves.

🙋 Why? Opens them up to coaching from you. Gets you an understanding of how they think.

Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?

What role/title do you want to have by then?

How does this team and company fall into the vision?

Do not judge or comment negatively on what they say.

Step 2: Find out the impact they want to have.

🙋 Why? Starts expanding their thinking towards a mission and inspires them to work for you.

What impact do you want to have on people around you?

What impact do you want to have on the tech industry?

Step 3: Find out about the impact on their life

🙋 Why? Uncovers the intrinsic motivation.

How's your life changing because of the work you are doing in this team?

Step 4: Get an idea for their strengths and goals

🙋Why? Gets you an idea about the work they would be interested in.

What strengths (or superpowers) do you want to build in the next 6months - 1year?

Step 5: Set up your future conversations

🙋Why? Sets up the agreement that you would be coaching and leading them towards their goals.

What are some areas you would love coaching on in the coming months so you can reach your goals?


Experiment with this conversation with at least one of your directs. You'll see them more inspired and creative.

🙋 There's one catch before you start asking these questions, though.

You have to be clear on them for yourself.

A few suggestions,

- Take some time out to write your answers down

- Find a friend to talk about them

- DM me on LinkedIn and I'll help you out.


That's it!

If you coach your directs in your 1x1s, what other questions do you ask to coach them?

Love this. Especially the mission prompts! Often managers only look at where their directs need to grow within their current role.
Glad you found it helpful, Maggie!Yes, we often pigeonhole our view only to the current role and the current company. But what drove us to join our current role is much bigger. Identifying that makes way for the right priorities and the right kind of learning for our underlying mission. That is a game changer toward what I call "non-linear career growth".