Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

Coaching Your Direct Reports

Coaching / Training / Mentorship

29 November, 2020

Ido Cohen

Ido Cohen

Head of Product at Permutive

Ido Cohen, Head of Product at Permutive, explains how he approaches coaching by looking at his reports as products that he tries to build.

Problem

There are different ways to approach coaching depending on what you are trying to achieve. I approach coaching by looking at my reports as products. I don’t buy or sell them but I build them. I opted for this approach because it is focused on outcomes and it helps my reports arriving where they want to be.

Many managers across the industry are focused on outputs when coaching. They would advise their reports to take more courses or improve on some skills. They would do so without being driven by clear goals where their reports want to be. As product people, we like to think about what we want to achieve before we build something. I look through the same lens when I coach my reports.

Actions taken

Their personal vision
I would initiate my coaching by inquiring about my report’s personal vision. I would ask them where they want to be ten years from now and what do they want to do in this company or at some other place in ten years. Not surprisingly, I would get a lot of don’t-knows and would encourage them to take some time and think it through.

How to get there
Once they would come up with a goal (a head of HR, for example), we would focus on developing a plan. It is not going to happen just because a person wants to be something in ten years. But once you have a clear goal, you can start with the planning.
A plan would detail skills and competencies your reports should master to be able to attain their goals. We would chat every three to six months about the goal itself to make sure that we are charting the right course. People would often slightly meander but still gravitating toward the same goal.
Moreover, I never say no. My reports would switch all time, from engineering to product and vice versa making the most of it in their new roles. If a person wants to change their role and we don’t provide them an opportunity, they will find it somewhere else.

Execution
The coaching itself can take different forms and shapes. First, the level of coaching I would provide depends on the level of seniority. Junior reports need more support and a more instructional approach while senior people prefer to maintain their autonomy in this respect.
My coaching efforts are divided into two parts: skill-building and personal coaching. Personal coaching can be summed up as coaching them on how to establish and maintain trustful relationships with other people or more bluntly, how not to be uncomfortable being stuck on a ten hours-long flight with me.

Lessons learned

  • Coaching other people is one of the most responsible things most managers would ever do. You will be responsible for the growth and happiness of another human being who, by a mere chance, happens to be your report. I worked at places where I met managers who were biased and non-emphatic and were reproducing their prejudices when coaching other people.
  • Be passionate about people, not only about work and products around you. Provide guidelines and support but don’t try to embed your ego in other people’s plans.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Preparing Your Team for the Remote Workplace

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, dictates how he brought a brand new team into the remote learning process by ramping up onboarding and creating a mentor system.

Alignment
Remote
Internal Communication
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Data Team
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

How to Strengthen Your Team Pitch

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, details his journey to improve his personal hiring process and team pitch.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company
Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

Delegate successfully as a first time manager of Product Managers

24 November

Andrew Tsui, a Product Leader, works to build great teams that are independent, demonstrate mastery of their domain, and fully commit to their purpose.

Scaling Team
Building A Team
Delegate
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Psychological Safety
Cross-Functional Collaboration
New Manager
Andrew Tsui

Andrew Tsui

Director of Product at Startup

Overcoming Constraints Through Creative Thinking

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, recalls a time when she had to use non-conventional methods to train her team.

Different Skillsets
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

Building trust as a new Manager

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, shares her insight into her growth path of evolving her management style to build trust.

Alignment
Personal Growth
Conflict Solving
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.