When are you a supervisor and when are you a coach

In many cases where you are the supervisor, you may want to take a coaching posture as much as possible. However, a coaching posture requires that the person you’re coaching is the one who sets the agenda. The agenda they set may or not be most strategic for accomplishing the goals you want them to accomplish as their supervisor.

Here’s a rule of thumb: if you find yourself trying to steer the conversation during coaching times, that means you probably haven’t completed the supervisor work of making sure they know what they need to achieve and how they will be evaluated. Too often we aren’t clear enough about what results we want people to get. Then when we try to coach them, they meander.

In cases like these, try having periodic supervisory meetings. Maybe once a quarter, have a supervisory meeting where you review progress and issues, and set goals for next three to six months. Less experienced people may need supervisory meetings more often. But once you have done that work and people are clear on where they need to go, you are free to coach.

If you keep the supervisor hat on too long, you increase dependency and don’t grow strong people. You end up micromanaging. Coaching is better– provided you have enough supervisory support and structure in place to make that happen. Whenever you see people losing focus or becoming less confident, more supervisory focus is necessary.