“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
One of the most pertinent and powerful conversations managers have with their teammates is about their growth and success – not the company’s growth. Not KPI’s. Not targets. But individual goals.
Irrespective of age, all employees have certain goals. When managers identify and tap into those goals, find ways to enable them to reach their goals, and connect with them, employees become more willing to put in the discretionary effort. Better employee outcomes and higher productivity then become natural consequences of the effort.
Let’s take a look at some basic tenets on how managers can effectively coach their teams.
Personalization has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that without it nothing works; coaching included.
With retailers offering personalized experiences even for online shopping, can employees be motivated by a sub-par experience when it comes to something as important as coaching?
To build successful teams and to become good coaches, managers have to personalize the coaching program to make it relevant and contextual for their team members. A novice/ new employee will have different coaching needs than an expert. Managers need to understand where to drive coaching with instruction, where they need to provide constructive correction, and where they need to guide with feedback.
Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all process. Since each member brings something unique to the team, it is essential for managers to have a genuine understanding of each of the team members. To establish a good coaching relationship, managers should ask guiding questions relevant to the employee and provide them coaching in areas that need help.
It’s a two-way street
In coaching, the conversation has to flow both ways. For example, if a manager is donning on the coaching hat, his/her job is not just to disseminate information endlessly. To be a good coach, a manager has to develop the skill to listen and identify the obvious, latent or dormant needs and cries for help, even when they lie unspoken.
Managers have to work on developing their capacity as good listeners without judgment and capably hold space for their employees. Coaching is not just about providing criticism and praise. It is also about being a good sounding board that gives balanced aempldvice and guidance.
Stay open to feedback
Coaching needs both encouragement as well as empowerment. Managers have to make sure that they build relationships with employees that lead to better performance.
Employees are likely to have queries, doubts, inputs, and feedback. They need to know that their manager is listening to them without judgment. They have to know that their managers care for their feedback, opinions, and fears, and will not dismiss or hold employee feelings against them. Feedback also has to be clear, quantitative, and action-oriented.
Creating a safe space for employees is essential for coaching to deliver the intended results. People cannot feel safe sharing views and opinions if they feel that the information can be used against them, or they shall be judged on the same. Approaching things from the employee’s perspective, providing clear and action-oriented feedback, developing the maturity to accept feedback, and not taking things personally are key skills to develop for managers.
Good coaching starts with developing emotional intelligence. This is because coaching isn’t only about the employee. It is also about how the managers interact with team members, how they understand problems, how they level with people, how sensitively do they deal with opposing outlooks, and how well they identify the explicit and the implied growth needs of their team members.
Building emotional intelligence in managers helps them empathize with others’ views while having clarity of thought on their own views. Hence, it provides the basis that they need to work closely with their teams to bring about transformational change.
The importance of analysis
Gone are the days when feelings trumped facts.
Today, with the growing reliance on data, coaching also has to be driven by data analysis. Be it is hardcore engineering skills or soft skills such as collaboration, learning agility, communication, adaptability, and such, coaching has to be driven by rich analytics.
Analytics provides the engagement insights to drive coaching for successful outcomes irrespective of skill development, performance, employee engagement, or more. Analytics, driven by technologies such as AI and Machine Learning, play a big role in improving learning interactions by providing personalized and contextual nurture actions that include notifications, reminders, alerts, kudos, and more.
Empowerment and enablement
One of the most important roles of a manager is to help organizations identify high-potential employees and help these employees to maximize their potential.
Managers need to know where the employees want to go and also have to be acutely aware of the areas they need to grow.
Often people themselves are unaware of their talents and skills. People also often underplay or overplay their skillsets. Human nature is a complex web to understand. Managers need the right tools to first identify where their team members need help and then help them bridge the gap.
Leveraging tests such as 16 Personality Factor evaluations, for example, can help a manager identify who is the high-potential employee capable of filling the enterprise pipeline and which one is the brilliant jerk who needs to amplify their soft skills to become a good leader.
The manager is not just the leader of the team. The manager is also the coach.
Just like a coach helps professional athletes achieve their goals, a manager can also coach his/her team member to succeed, and as a ripple effect, help the organization grow.
But coaching cannot be confused with directing. Most managers might ‘feel’ that they are coaching their team when in fact, they are just telling their team members what to do. Coaching is central to improving team performance. The key to successful coaching rests not with telling people what to do but helping them achieve a higher level of action and awareness, by taking carefully calculated steps that matter.
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