Coaching is a hat that every manager should wear
23rd September 2015 | Gillian Jones
Gillian is co-author, with Ro Gorell, of 50 Top Tools for Coaching. In this article she argues that coaching should be regarded as a core skill of every manager, and not limited to the L&D department – and explains that everyone concerned, busy manager included, benefits.
Employees today want their work to matter. Better pay is far from being the overriding reason people choose certain jobs, or opt to stay in their careers.
People look to be inspired during their working hours. The days when managers exercised command and control are diminishing, and day-to-day organizational tasks are no longer most managers’ main focus. In this ‘knowledge economy’, investment into people’s long-term development is proving beneficial for companies too.
As training budgets reduce year on year, and time becomes scarcer, as a manager it makes sense to develop your coaching skills, which could make a huge difference to your team’s performance and the company’s bottom line. After all, the greatest asset any organization has is its people.
Helping people develop isn’t difficult, but it is different from the traditional management style. Here are some examples of where managers could prove more effective by using coaching skills, or how different things look when a coaching culture is adopted.
When we think of training and development, we assume that an individual needs to master completely new skills. But sometimes they already have them, and it’s mostly the application with which they need help. Coaching empowers employees to change negative beliefs surrounding their attributes, to recognise the skills they hold, and to recognise when to put them into practice.
There are times when, as a manager, it’s appropriate to exercise authority. When coaching others, however, it’s helpful if they see you as a supportive, collaborative ‘colleague’ and sounding board. Though you may be called upon, when wearing your ‘manager’ hat, to offer advice to others or to demonstrate direction and persuasion, when in coaching mode, your focus should be on helping individuals reach their own conclusions. Listen, support, motivate, and encourage self-accountability.
Whilst the future has always been important, in the past a manager’s time was often taken up with their team’s immediate needs. Nowadays, time appears to be even scarcer and day-to-day concerns can be seen as all important. Taking a little time out for coaching can stop knee jerk reactive actions and also help employees make considered proactive long-term changes. A coaching approach and culture undoubtedly helps incremental development ‘stick’ but also aids long-term progress and development, both of which make coaching an invaluable use of a busy manager’s time.
In the past, though managers understood employees may have wanted to feel more responsible in their role, this wasn’t necessarily their most pressing concern. Today’s managers continually challenge their people to think and act independently. Not all skills are gained when things go to plan; resilience, creativity and innovation, for example, can often be better honed under pressure.
Holding coaching conversations, supporting their team’s ongoing development, and having an understanding of their employees’ motivations, are all coaching skills that highly effective managers consistently demonstrate.
70% of employee development happens in the day-to-day working life of the employee, not in the training room; managers are key to employee engagement and retention – their coaching skills could make all the difference.
If you help your people realise their potential, everyone will enjoy success.
You can order 50 Top Tools for Coaching 3rd Edition at a 20% discount when you enter code 50TOP20H at the checkout on www.koganpage.com. This discount is valid until 30 November 2015