Measure your coaching skills

To celebrate its Learning at Work Day on 16 May, organiser Campaign for
Learning has put together this coaching quiz. 
Use it yourself or share it with line managers to see how your company
measures up

Coaching is an increasingly popular tool for staff development, but as the
preceding feature shows (Analysis page 12) it is in danger of not being properly

Its seemingly informal nature makes it open to abuse. There is also the
danger that line managers, who are relied upon to get the most from their staff
and are the first choice to be coaches, are not fully competent.

Yet it remains a valuable method and with this in mind the Campaign for
Learning has put together the following quiz. It is not intended to be a
panacea but can be used to measure the training department’s approach to
coaching and also to assess and help line managers on areas of weakness-perhaps
forming the basis for discussion.

Select one answer to each question and use the boxes below to see how
committed to coaching you and your organisation really are.

Q1. Listening

You have a deadline looming and one of your staff interrupts with a
long-winded account of a problem he or she is having.

Do you:

a. Listen absent-mindedly while carrying on with your work?

b. Stop what you are doing, invite them to sit down and tell you all about
it in their own time. You will meet your deadline by working late.

c. Stop what you are doing and give them your full attention for five
minutes. Then interrupt gently, explaining you have a deadline, and arrange to
meet with them later to give the so that you can give the problem your full attention.

d. A staff member would never interrupt when you are busy as you always
close the door to prevent disturbances.

Q2. Feedback

An experienced staff member is working on a task for you that you believe
will stretch them but is within their abilities. Do you:

a. Ask for daily written reports on how they are progressing.

b. Let them get on with it, they can ask if they have any problems.

c. Ask regular, informal questions on specific aspects to establish

d. You prefer to keep staff working safely within their own limits to avoid
mistakes so this situation wouldn’t arise.

e. Ask them what would be the appropriate intervals for review meetings
where you can give support and note progress. Agree the dates.

Q3. Understanding of Learning Styles

Your department’s computer systems are being upgraded and you have been
sent on a training course to learn the new system. You now have to transfer
your knowledge to your staff. Do you:

a. Gather everyone together in a meeting room, give them a copy of the
manual and talk through the content.

b. Gather everyone in a meeting room with a flip-chart and draw a diagram of
the new system to explain it.

c. Demonstrate the system personally on a computer with small groups of
staff, making sure that everyone takes turns to sit at the computer and have a

d. Send everyone a memo giving them details of the online help that is
available for the new system and encouraging them to ask you if they have any

e. A combination of two or more of the above.

Q4. Communication

You want to introduce a new reporting method for the work of your
department. This will involve all your staff making a simple change to the way
they document their work. Do you:

a. Send a memo to everyone outlining the new method.

b. Hold a meeting to discuss the new method and hand out the memo in the

c. Send an e-mail to everyone outlining the new method.

d. Pin one copy of the memo on a notice-board.

e. Two or more of the above

Q5 Inspiring individual learning

One of your staff members has confided they would like to improve their
English. Do you:

a. Feel worried that you have employed someone with poor skills and start
looking for other signs that they are not up-to-scratch.

b. Feel pleased they have asked for your advice and call the neighbouring
college to find out what is on offer locally so you can give them the right

c. Offer to go with them to the local college to find out what is on offer.

d. Tell them to ask for advice at the library.

e. Discuss with them the benefits of improving their English, ask them to
investigate possible sources of tuition and report back to you.

Q6 developing skills

You have noticed that one of your staff avoids situations where they have
to speak in public, despite a recent training course in presentation skills. Do

a. Offer to give him or her an informal presenting opportunity within the
department to practice their skills.

b. Advise them to visualise giving successful presentations to help build
their confidence.

c. Recommend a book that you have found useful in improving presentation

d. Conclude they will never be any good at giving presentations so make sure
they don’t have the opportunity.

e. Ask them to list the ways in which public speaking opportunities will
benefit them and discuss why they are avoiding taking the opportunity to speak.

Q7. How do you handle poor performance?

A staff member, who has been with you four months, has made a mistake
with serious consequences for your organisation. You have managed to resolve
the problem but it has caused you considerable trouble. Do you:

a. Fire them immediately. You can do without staff that cause you this much

b. As you have resolved the problem this time, you won’t say anything and
hope it doesn’t happen again.

c. Make time to have a private meeting with the staff member so that you can
both review what happened, focusing on the action not the person, and help them
learn from the experience.

d. Give them a written warning so that they understand the serious nature of
their mistake.

Q8. How do you handle good performance?

One of your staff members has performed a specific task very well. The
chief executive has personally let you know how impressed he or she is with
their performance. Do you:

a. Pass on the CEO’s praise personally to your staff member – you would have
thanked them for their good work earlier.

b. Make sure the CEO knows how you personally contributed to the successful

c. Stress to your staff member that he or she is part of a team, not an
individual star performer.

d. Pass on the CEO’s praise personally to your staff member – you would have
thanked them for their good work earlier. In the following few weeks you would
also take the time to give positive feedback to other team members.

Q9. Do you communicate the big picture?

Your chief executive has asked you to think about the strategic direction
of your department over the next five years. Do you:

a. Let your imagination run riot and create some suggestions based on your
own ideas.

b. Send a memo to your staff asking them to send you suggestions.

c. Hold a meeting, explaining what the CEO has requested and discuss a range
of options with your staff.

d. Ignore the request. You and your department have enough work to do
without worrying about what will happen five years from now.

Q10. Work-life balance

One of your staff members is working late most nights to meet a tight
deadline. Do you:

a. Say nothing, if they need help they will ask and there is nothing wrong
with working hard.

b. Tell them they won’t be entitled to overtime but you are pleased to see
them working so hard.

c. Ask them how they are progressing and help them review their workload to
see if they can reduce other aspects of their workload.

d. Offer to work late with them every night until the deadline is met

Answers (max score 30)

Q1 Listening skills  

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         2          3          0

You need to make sure you can complete your own work

Q2 Feedback

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         0          2          0          3

You need to give your staff the freedom to develop their own
initiative if you would like them to develop. Staff will stagnate and lose
interest if they are not stimulated

Q3 Understanding learning styles

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         1          2          1          3

Q4 Communication

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         2          1          0          3

Q5 Inspiring individual learning

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         2          1          1          3

You are a manager not a parent. Staff may find it overpowering
to have too much support    

Q6 Developing skills     

            a          b          c
         d          e  
             2         1         1        
0         3

Q7 Handling poor performance

            a          b          c
         d          e  
            0          0          3          1

Don’t wait to address staff performance issues. The longer you
leave it the harder it will be

Q8 Handling good performance

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         0          0          3

Q9 Big picture communication   

            a          b          c
         d          e  
            0          0          3          1

Most people are interested in understanding how their job fits
into the organisation as a whole

Q10 Work life balance

            a          b          c
         d          e  
         0          3          1           

What’s your score? are you good coach?

Score between 0 and 10 You need to spend some time
thinking about the best way of developing your coaching skills. Look back over
those areas where you scored zero which will help you identify your weaknesses,
particularly in the people arena

Score between 11 and 20 You have already developed some
coaching skills but  you cannot sit back
on your laurels as there is still plenty of scope for becoming a more effective
coach. For this reason look closely at those areas where you scored zero

Score between 21 and 30 Congratulations. You have
already developed some strong coaching skills . To become an even better coach
, look back over those areas where you scored two or less

Learning at Work Day

This year’s Learning at Work Day is held on 16 May.

You can find out more or carry out
this quiz online by logging on to

Or call 0117 966 7755 to register for free planning materials and to get

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