Is “coaching” your engineers a way of manipulating them or a gentle guide to the “right” solution?

You know what the solution is (at least you think you do!):

■ should you correct them before they make the mistake, or
■ should you let them make the mistake to learn from it, or
■ should you try to help them figure out the solution (“coach them”) without coming across as manipulating or patronising?

Many engineers find it manipulating and patronising when their managers try to “coach them” because they can sense there is something the manager knows, but is not saying and it’s an artificial way of trying to help them “get there”.

And by “get there” they mean “get to the same conclusion” as their manager.

I personally also found it frustrating, patronising and infantalising when a manager would try to “help me get there” with questions that simply seemed to miss the mark.

I much prefer someone to tell me “the unknown unknowns” that I clearly don’t see and they DO see, that helped them get to “the solution”, than try to patronise me with leading questions.

(Wheather it’s the right solution or not, that’s another matter.)

In fact, that’s what the people I advise like about my style too…

I don’t try to manipulate answers out them, I tell them what I see.

Then we can have an open discussion about that particular solution.

But what do you think?

Would you prefer to be told what they see or be guided with questions to see the thing they see?

hashtag#cto hashtag#leadingpeople



Adelina Chalmers a.k.a The Geek Whisperer

Helps Engineers who are Leaders (CEO/ CTO/ VP) get buy-in from their peers/teams/investors by transforming Communication techniques into Algorithms