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

Assessing the Performance of Your Team

20 August

Parallels between Work and Sport.

Goal Setting
Different Skillsets
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Performance
Ron Pragides

Ron Pragides

SVP Engineering at Trustly Group AB

Leaving Room to Say Things Suck — Leadership Lessons from “Ted Lasso”

17 August

A major sign of trust, comfortability, and vulnerability is for someone you lead to be able to say something sucks.

Building A Team
Company Culture
Leadership
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
John Hartley

John Hartley

Senior Engineering Manager at Curology

How to Enter QA With a Non-Technical Degree

2 August

Lewis Prescott, QA Lead at Cera Care, explains his journey from a degree in psychology to learning test automation and computer programming.

Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Career Path
Lewis Prescott

Lewis Prescott

QA Lead at CeraCare

How to Motivate Your Engineers to Grow in Their Careers

13 June

Roland Fiala, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Productsup, highlights the importance of soft skills and shares how he motivates his engineers to further their careers by focusing on personal growth.

Goal Setting
Different Skillsets
Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Motivation
Team Processes
Career Path
Performance
Roland Fiala

Roland Fiala

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Usergems

10x engineer or 10x impact?

26 May

Hiring 10x engineers is hard for most companies. It’s a tough battle out there for talent. So how should most companies approach building their team?

Building A Team
Leadership
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Vaidik Kapoor

Vaidik Kapoor

Consulting CTO/VPE at Self Employeed