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Managers Need to Focus on Coaching Rather Than Managing – Here is Why and How

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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The need for proactive feedback has had companies moving away from annual performance reviews. A yearly conversation no longer suffices to drive performance, productivity, and profitability. 

In a utopian world, managers capably lavish proactive feedback to their teams and direct reportees. In the real world, this is rare. This is not because managers do not want to do so. It is because managers have to face many demands and navigate time pressures -helping subordinates develop their skills with quality, contextual and impactful feedback somehow slips through the cracks.

Managers, however, have to accept that the rules of the game have now changed. Instead of managing, they now need to focus on coaching because coaching is a key component of effective employee management. Managers now need to help their teams learn and grow continuously especially as the pace of change and disruption across industries accelerates, and the demand for new skills increases.

With the shelf life of skills continuously reducing, becoming a good coach is now essential to being a good manager. 

Today, the path to success in a global, hyper-competitive business environment is to build resilient, adaptable, agile high-performing teams who are enabled to think and do great things. A crucial enabler of such a team is a manager who can both manage and coach for success.

Types of Managers

In the pre-pandemic days, the Connector Managers were the ones who build high-performing teams. Connector managers put the employee needs at the center and leveraged coaching to drive employee performance and build high-performing teams.

There are Always-On managers who inundate their teams with a constant stream of feedback. While their enthusiasm and energy are applaudable, they end up overwhelming the team with a barrage of information and consequently degrade team performance.

Teacher managers coach the team based on their own knowledge and experience. They provide advice-oriented feedback and personally direct development.

Cheerleader managers deliver positive feedback to the employee and put the employee in charge of their own development. They are available and supportive but are more reactive in delivering feedback.

Disruption Ahead – Tests Managers Need to Navigate

The world of work needs the evolution of these managerial styles, especially since major disruptions test today’s managers. The work environment has witnessed seismic changes, especially in three ways:

  1. The workplace has evolved – How, where and when we work is changing. The hybrid workplace, gig and contract workers, remote work, and distributed teams are a reality. Managers need to support teams through business and organizational pivots and bridge the gap between how employees and leaders view things. They also must manage conflicting outcomes. For example, while teams are highly productive, they could also be burning out.
  2. Skills gapsResearch shows that the number of skills needed for a single job is increasing fast. Managers must upskill not only their teams but ensure that they, themselves, have the relevant skills to lead.
  3. The focus is on sustainable performance –Trends like the Great Resignation signal the evolution of what employees want from their workplace. Managers must now support employees’ performance without compromising on aspects such as health, and well-being.

The Difference Between Coaching and Effective Coaching 

Managers now need to replace managing with coaching to navigate this new world of work. However, coaching effectively is crucial to driving good outcomes.

The Teacher manager uses coaching in their strategy, but they might end up degrading performance. This is because this category of manager anchors guidance and coaching on past experiences. These might no longer be relevant to the current situation.

The Always-On manager is anchored on giving feedback. While organizations look for this category of managers, they too cannot drive sustainable performance. Giving continuous feedback and checking in constantly is detrimental to performance since it can get overwhelming and controlling.

The Cheerleader achieves more comparatively through sheer positive encouragement but is not able to build lasting, consistent, and sustainable performance.

The Connector managers have been more successful since they make employee, team, and organizational connections and work towards driving performance and employee well-being.

Over the years, it has been established that those managers who coach and make coaching central to their management strategy have successful and high-performing teams. Some of the reasons why this happens are because:

  • Managers who coach focus on individual and team engagement. They see their role as enablers of individual and team success. Along with output, they focus on things that influence output. These managers can effectively identify limiting beliefs, signs of burnout, discontent, etc. through coaching conversations.  
  • Coaching helps employees identify their strengths and the personal barriers to success. Be it limiting beliefs or skills gaps, coaching can help managers help their team members develop their talent to maximize outcomes. These managers do not just supervise output or production. They help teams use their strengths to their advantage
  • Coaching is all about setting goals and identifying quantified steps to attain them. It is not about providing feedback but more about giving feedback that matters. Coaching aligns every conversation to the goals and the actions needed to drive forward movement. It is a co-creative relationship that builds accountability and ownership in teams.
  • Coaching is crucial to driving outstanding career pathing outcomes. It helps break down a big goal into digestible chunks. The manager and employee create an action plan to meet these goals. They connect at defined intervals to measure progress and barriers and make course corrections whenever required.

The best managers communicate a great deal with their teams. But it is not the words count that is the defining factor here – it is what they say.

Managers can build daily accountability for employee engagement, development, and performance with coaching. However, to move from being bosses to managers who coach, managers need to be coached as well. 

  • They need to develop skills such as active listening, empathy, and non-judgment.
  • They have to master the art of questioning to help employees get to their perfect answers. 
  • They need to develop an effective managerial vocabulary that influences positive change, builds employee engagement, and furthers trust along with development.

Coaching helps managers operate from a place of greater self-awareness, competence, and curiosity. This has an expansive impact across the organization since these values have a trickling effect. Coaching gives managers a personalized and intentional way to develop championship-caliber players by facilitating feelings of belonging and engagement and helping employees feel more meaningfully connected.

All these factors contribute to better team performance and elevated organizational outcomes.

Help your managers develop their coaching skills and transform team outcomes. Start a 60-day pilot of NumlyEngage™

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