Coach, Don’t Fix

At Baird Group, we define coaching as a supportive relationship that fosters learning, transformation and growth. Helping others to grow and reach their potential is one of the most rewarding aspects of leadership. But certain habits might be keeping you from being a great coach. “Fixing” is a habit that gets in the way of coaching.  I’ve seen many leaders fall into the “fix it” mode instead of coaching or guiding critical thinking. 

The fixing habit starts out innocently enough. A staff member stops by your office complain about something with the expectation you will fix the problem. It’s tempting to jump right in with solutions especially when those solutions feel obvious. 


But dumping unprocessed problems into your lap won’t help your team member to grow and develop.  SBAR, a familiar tool used in nursing can also be applied in coaching. SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendations. By employing SBAR, you can hold staff accountable for being part of the solution rather than simply dumping the problem on you.  SBAR is a communication method that helps staff members to efficiently and succinctly process the situation and efficiently communicate it. 

When staff learn to frame problems using SBAR, they can keep the discussion based on facts and concludes with them making a recommendation. SBAR provides an objective approach. Without having an objective framework, leaders often feel compelled to jump in and fix the problem. Fixing is not coaching. When staff consistently witness leaders “fixing” rather than coaching, they learn that they can dump problems on their leaders without owning any responsibility for finding solutions. 

The next time you’re tempted to jump in and solve or “fix” a problem, be the coach, not the fixer. If you can master this, you’ll be building a team of critical thinkers who will appreciate your commitment to helping them grow.

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