How To Be A Great Coach

2P9G5217Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough they don’t want to.

Quote attributed to: Richard Branson

Okay, so now you a Marketing Manager. This means you are a very strong marketer who now has the responsibility to develop people’s skills. Now is the time to make an even broader impact on your organization.  This is not a time to be a super Brand Manager or to act like a deer caught in a car’s headlights.  It is time to step up to the plate and deliver.  Your people are counting on it.

Perhaps the best advice I have heard about this seminal moment in a marketer’s career was shared by one of my favorite P&G CEOs … John Pepper.

“Don’t think about coaching as completing projects, or checking off various activities or learning experiences, but rather as leaving the people you are responsible for…fundamentally stronger than before they reported to you.” John Pepper

Even though you are now busier than ever, you must spend time with your people, informally and formally and leverage your time to help develop the organization’s capability. Effectively using your coaching opportunities (meetings, 1:1’s, work and development plans, etc.) can make you a strong and sought out coach.

So how do you do that?

First: Create Coaching Touch Points

  1. Assess your Marketing and People Development capability. With the help of your direct manager, identify the biggest challenges and the most important gaps in your skill and knowledge base, and create a personal development plan to address these gaps.
  2. Carve out time frequently to Coach and Train your people. Use face to face meetings to help them develop the skills needed to succeed in the job. While it takes time to coach and teach, a skillful team is much more efficient/effective in the long run. Believe it or not (hopefully some of my previous reports will confirm this), at the end of every one-on-one meeting I would pull out a plaque that had the words “Training is Happening NOW” on it and set it on the table to signal that we were going to have a Power BI training workshop session.  It wasn’t long before everybody knew I felt training was important and if they wanted to talk with me the quid pro quo was to be trained.
  3. Leverage the subject matter experts in your organization. You manage and work with people who have great skills/knowledge. Know your peers, resources, and expert networks. You don’t need to be the expert in everything, you simply need to ensure the people who work for you have access to learn from the experts.

Second: Always Remember:

  • You are only as good as your people.  You get credit for what they do, good or bad. So, nurture them, treat them as an asset and encourage their continued growth.
  • You can use all the tools you have available to develop mastery in others. At every opportunity ensure you are building your people’s skills.  Take the time to explain the why behind, not just the what of their work.
  • You need to be  a visible role model. Make your own personal development a priority and your people will make it their priority as well.  Walk the talk.

Third: Hold Formal Coaching Meetings

Consider holding formal 1:1 meeting with each of your people to evaluate their training needs.  This is not a substitute for hands-on training, but rather a supplement to it.

Before The Meeting:

  • Schedule time with your people – – on-going and consistent.
  • Make the meeting a priority and be ready to invest in them. No phone calls, no emails.
  • Ask individuals to bring their thoughts on personal development opportunities..

In The Meeting Follow This Process:

Step 1 – Review Results to Create Learning Insights

  • Ask the individual to share their results (past week, past month, past quarter) and have him/her assess their progress.
    • Compliment him/her on their successes and improvements.
    • Probe into what he/she believed “worked” that enabled them to be successful? What didn’t work? (Let him/her provide the answers. Remember, your job is to ask the right questions to stretch his/her thinking).
    • Ask him/her what specific skills were used in order to be effective? Which skills were not so effective? What should be the course correction as they move to the next project? Here is the key question to ask: What did you learn?

Step 2 – Determine What Else Needs to be Learned

  • Ask the individual to assess where he/she needs additional coaching (i.e. specific marketing mastery area) based on where projects are headed.
    • Identify the resources (including experts) available to help develop skills or set up a specific 1:1 coaching session to invest quality time focused entirely on the identified skill outage. If the opportunity exists for several individuals within your organization, establish and lead a group coaching session where participants can learn from each other.

Step 3 – Summary & Commitment

  • Ask him/her to summarize the meeting: top 3-4 key insights or learning.
  • Agree together on action steps and secure a real commitment to deliver.
  • Express confidence in his/her abilities and offer your personal support.
  • Set up the next 1:1 on your calendars.


I hope the above advice is helpful to you.  To be a great leader, you have to be great at developing the capability and capacity of your organization.  I’d love your thoughts (or questions) on the above coaching process.  I can assure you it works.  But, I also know the press of daily crises make it challenging to execute.  It has to be a personal priority or it won’t get done.  Commit to the development of your people and your career will prosper.

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