on 30 April 2003
There are many things that I like about this book, and it has proved such a good read I felt absolutely compelled to write a review about it.
Topics include: the need to become a good coach, why past attempts at coaching failed, how the beliefs of the coach have a part to play, the need to pay attention not only to skills but also the 'human element', optimal allocation of responsibility, making lasting improvement, increasing self-awareness, sharing an understanding of the issues, analysing and learning from previous experiences and why after all this it can still go wrong. The book covers a lot of material, but the friendly and chatty style with which it is presented makes it always a pleasure and never a chore.
This book does not patronise. It does not claim to provide a single right way of doing things, which 'if you do you will be fine' - life simply isn't like that and any book worth its salt (as this one is) will recognise that. In short it is 'coaching and feedback come to life' Too often, the books I have read are prescriptive instead of descriptive, offering solutions that would only work in a book, not in the real-life setting of a workplace.
The book is very easy to read. There is no 'jargon' as such, but the terms that are used are explained clearly. The writing style is free flowing and considered yet not stuffy nor over-elaborate. In keeping with this, there is also a brief summary at the end of each chapter, simply called 'In Short', which reviews the key points.
On the surface it's a quick read with everything you need to get started and improve your performance being brought to the front of your mind immediately. However, it is in delving in a little further that you appreciate not only the care that must have gone into this book to make it such a succinct read, but the ability of the author to connect her experiences to your own in such a way that the details begin to unravel themselves as you become more immersed in the book.
One highlight for me, was, very roughly paraphrasing, how we can change whatever we are unhappy with by examining the beliefs triggering this behaviour and analysing what had held us back in the first place. If we do this we make changes that are very easy to stick to. It enabled me to put right something I had been doing wrong. But, calling any part a highlight would merely suggest the book has failings or shortcomings in other areas, which simply isn't true. The fact that this book doesn't make any radical claims that it has all the answers if you follow the advice exactly is much of its appeal.
I have now read the first two books in this series, and if the others are as good as these, this collection could well become a 'Management Bible' for today's busy overworked manager. It was a pleasure to have read such a lively and inspiring text. I don't want to oversell it (which I don't believe I have) so the best thing to say would be to get hold of a copy yourself to see what I mean. Highly recommended, a must for all managers trying to perform under the pressures of the real world.