This is an incredibly important distinction. Coaching is easily interpreted as micro-management when it’s not framed as a learning moment.

Turn a… ‘‘’X’ is a problem, changing it to ‘y’ will fix it.”


“You’re trying to solve ‘x’ problem. what if you tried ‘y or z’ approach? I like ‘y’ because… what do you think? Is there another way we could approach the problem…?”

They might come up with an option you didn’t consider, approach ‘z’.

“Let’s explore ‘y’ and z’ and talk about what works best and the trade-offs. We’ll make a decision about how we solve this problem after we explore them. If we like the solution let’s apply it to problems like this in the future.”

Coaching takes more time and improves the value people contribute over time by encouraging dialogue, learning, curiosity, and a growth mindset.

As a manager, you’ll learn more about how your team member thinks, what’s unique about their perspective, and you might even learn a new way of doing something you’ve stopped trying to improve upon long ago.

I help businesses build, lead, and manage design teams.

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