Turn Managers into Coaches
Do you want to be an effective coach? Some say this is one of THE most important management skills. Without this skill you may not:
- Have employees performing at their best.
- Head up a highly engaged, motivated, “can do” workforce.
- Be the “go to” supervisor when a team member has an issue.
Employees place a high premium on a manager who is skilled at giving feedback, a manager who is interested in their professional development & a manager who shows interest in them as a person.
These practices will help you be “more than just a boss” to your employees, but instead, someone who helps them perform at their best, continuously improving, & growing professionally.
- Resist the temptation to showcase your cleverness, or offer an instant solution to your employees’ problems.
This one can even be hard for professional coaches to do. You have probably experienced this issue yourself. Instead of giving them the answer, try to foster self-discovery by asking questions like:
- “Can you picture if the roles were reversed and Kim had said that to you, how do you think you would have felt?”
- “Looking back, how might you have handled it differently?”
- “What was your intention when you brought that subject up to Samantha in the meeting?”
- Pay attention to how you introduce a new outlook or point out something that the person is not noticing or aware of.
Avoid the “Gotcha!” mentality, it tends to come across as gloating. For example: “It’s interesting that you have been putting all your attention on what she did to you. I haven’t heard you talk about your part in the confrontation.”
Instead, you could say: “You’ve been focused on all the inconsiderate & downright rude things she said to you, which is understandable. While it’s natural for us to do that when we’re upset with someone, if we don’t balance it with looking in the mirror, we will miss out on some really important information about how to improve our relationships. Do you know what I mean by that?”
- Explain “The Why” of your feedback when making recommendations experiment with asking them what they think the reasoning for the recommendation is.
- “I’m thinking that this might be one of the times when a more direct approach is needed. Any thoughts about why that might be the case?”
Doing this not only makes coaching more collaborative, it also saves the person from having to listen to an explanation they don’t need. I believe this is especially important to do with really intelligent, accomplished people, & Type A personalities, who have little patience for that kind of patronizing.
- If you’re explaining something — especially if you tend to be extroverted or wordy — stop every now and then and ask, “Do you have any comments/questions?” or your own version of that question.
Just the pause helps keep the person from becoming flooded and tuning you out completely.
- If you are using teaching stories longer than 1-3 minutes, sprinkle in questions, such as, “Can you relate to that?”, “Have you had that kind of an experience?”
This helps the other person, especially if they are outgoing & want to talk, stay involved as well as helping them connect the dots between your story & their situation.
- Be clear about your intentions before using a teaching story.
Ask yourself, “Am I telling this story for MY sake or for their sake?”
If you share your thoughts, feelings, & reactions, as part of your story, you might want to say something like, “I’m sharing this much detail because I want to have you think about your own internal responses.” I will do this at times if I worry that the person may be puzzled & wonder if I’m sharing TMI (too much info) or just telling them the story because I need to get it off my chest.
I recommend that you do NOT tell stories about things that are still unresolved, or situations that you still have anger about. Not only is that an example of telling a story for YOUR sake but, it also is likely to cause the other person to be uneasy.
- Analogies help people empathize with situations & others they may find it difficult to understand.
If someone has a hard time empathizing with someone, especially if it’s someone on the receiving end of their behavior, try to come up with an analogy that they’re more likely to relate to:
“I understand you think Shaun is being rude because he interrupts when you’re trying to explain something. I hate being interrupted too, but I wonder why he might be doing this? I remember you talking about how you didn’t like how Cassie talked for 10-minutes in the last department meeting when she could have summed it up in 2 minutes. You and the team were nodding your heads trying to give her that non-verbal signal ‘Yeah, we get it already. We know that.’ Could that be happening with you and Shaun, maybe?”
It takes a mindful effort to coach your team versus manage them. GOOD managers are efficient at managing their employees, however, GREAT managers have the potential to coach their subordinates to become wonderful managers as well. If you’re willing to go that extra mile you will end up with highly engaged employees, working to their full potential.
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