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Managers MUST Learn to be Better Coaches

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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The workplace of today has witnessed a massive transformation. The gig economy is on the incline, and job descriptions are evolving and no longer remain black or white. 

Technology advancements and adoption have offered multiple platforms to collaborate, communicate and get work done. The hybrid workplace is now a reality.  

In this shuffle, one thing that has undergone massive change is leadership. Leadership rules, especially for the middle management -the managers, have changed phenomenally.

The role of the manager is not just to allocate work to their teams anymore. Today, to have engaged teams and to combat attrition like the Great Resignation, managers need to know how to optimize performance and enhance teams’ skills. As the rules of engagement change, managers need to identify how to get the most out of their teams while keeping attrition at bay. They need to manage people a great deal more than they manage deliverables.

Managers today need to drive team success by building agile, high-performance teams. At the same time, they also have to address competing priorities, manage rapidly evolving demands, and constantly integrate new tools and information. To achieve this, managers need to move away from the Industrial Age concept of a manager (authoritative and directional leadership). To manage teams in the Intellectual Age they have to learn to capitalize on the strengths of their teams, inspire their teams, and advance performance in the workplace and beyond

The road to success in a highly-competitive, fast-moving, and technology-driven business environment is to have high-performing teams. And a critical component of a high-performing team is a manager who knows how to coach. Being a good coach, as such, is now essential to be called a good manager

But most managers do not know how to coach.

Are you successfully coaching teams?

Most managers are ill-equipped to answer this question. This is because most managers ‘think’ they are coaching their teams. In reality, they are simply telling their team members what they need to do.

Coaching is all about helping an individual unlock their potential to maximize their performance. It is more about driving learning and enablement rather than exercising a unidirectional teaching strategy. Coaching involves understanding where the individual currently stands, helping them identify what they are good at and what they can improve, and then motivating them with the right coaching conversations to drive behavioral change that brings them closer to their goals.

There is enough research to support that managers do not know how to coach. They are usually promoted to the role of a manager because they are good at what they do, not necessarily because they make the people around them better. In this new world of work, managers have to not only be focused on performance management but performance development. And development only happens with coaching.

So, what can managers do to be better coaches?

If a sports coach gave the team performance feedback at the end of the season, the chances of that team being successful would be dim. They wouldn’t be winning any games. However, the coach who gives regular feedback, helps individual team members identify the strengths to capitalize on and weaknesses to navigate and delivers enablement by offering support and guidance contextually and regularly would have a winning team.

Managers now need to clearly understand that coaching is an intrinsic part of their work. However, to coach their teams well, they need to know how to coach. Coaching is all about helping team members identify where they presently stand and where their destination is.

 “This is something that we already do”, the manager might lament and show all the career pathing initiatives that they have undertaken. But, in today’s world of work, career pathing involves not just identifying what the team member has to achieve. It also must address the path to get there and the potential challenges at play. It needs delivering regular feedback to ensure that the individual reaches the destination without delays.

As such, managers need to learn the art and science of coaching to drive forward movement and have high-performing and highly engaged team members.

Beware of micromanaging-as-coaching 

When managers are initially asked to coach team members, most of them demonstrate some form of consulting. They almost inevitably provide the individual with some form of advice or sometimes even a solution. “Why don’t you do this” or “you need to do this” is an inherent part of such communication.

However, when managers take this approach and connect regularly with their team members, instead of engaged teams they end up with highly disengaged teams. 

To become good coaches, managers need to develop some key skills such as:

  • Active listening
  • Compelling questioning
  • Goal setting
  • Providing compelling feedback based on data
  • Assisting with goal setting
  • Leading with empathy and non-judgment
  • Recognizing strengths and identifying weaknesses
  • Assisting in developing solution-focused mindsets and approaches

But most of all, managers need to learn how to lead the individual to arrive at their own perfect solution that helps them achieve their goals.

Helping people arrive at their solutions demands compelling coaching conversations. It demands creating a safe space that is free from judgment, asking employees what they can do better instead of telling them what they need to do. It also involves building all the interactions such that they all become learning opportunities.

Manager-led coaching can elevate the levels of accountability and ownership levels of a team. That is because there are continuous conversations taking place around specific goals. With proactive feedback, constant course correction, and concentrated action, it is easier and achievable to drive outcomes.

Organizations need to help managers develop a coaching mindset to ensure that their teams are constantly moving toward success. With disruption and change becoming constants in the business environment, managers need to become highly focused on helping their teams manage and achieve all their goals. By driving manager-led coaching, organizations benefit by having more engaged teams, lower levels of attrition, and higher levels of trust.

Successful coaching, however, needs to be learned. Identifying and training managers on how to become coaches gives them clarity on the nuances of powerful coaching conversations. 

Given the pressures of the current world of work, organizations need to give their managers the room and the tools to grow, develop their skills, and build their teams with greater awareness and impact. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help managers become better coaches and help their teams thrive in this hyper-competitive world.  

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