Should You Be Coaching Your Employees?
Coaching was formerly regarded as a remedy of last resort, or it was at least reserved for the most senior leaders. It has now been democratized more broadly across workplaces. Meanwhile, the practice has become a unique profession with its own defined set of skills.
Because skilled talent is expensive to find, companies turn to coaching earlier as a method for developing their employees' potential. People are also changing roles more often and need to be supported through those transitions.
Learning to look within for answers
Coaching supports new behaviors and new ways of thinking, intended both to achieve professional success and hit corporate targets. The process attempts to tailor management skills at all levels, from supervisors up, by focusing on where behavioral changes are most likely to impact growth.
The role of the coach embodies multiple facets. It may be to provide reassurance and confirmation that a manager is on the right track; it may also serve to strengthen competency while solving problems and achieving results. But make no mistake: It is not career counseling, nor is it a repackaging of supervising, correcting, training or reprimanding.
The coach is not there to provide answers, but rather to elicit insights from the manager being coached. When advising, a coach seeks to discover what someone wishes to accomplish and then applies transformative ideas to reach those objectives. The coach may empower the manager by asking penetrating questions, challenging their thinking, possibly coming up with fresh options or considering new interpretations.
Coaching may be classified as a hierarchical model. In that case, a manager coaches subordinates while learning collaboratively with their staff. In an alternative model, team members together agree on goals and targets. As a group, they examine the dynamics among their team and discuss who is best suited to play which position.
Let us assume here an emphasis specifically on managers — as opposed to talented employees who are on a management trajectory. The focus can be subdivided into the typical duties that characterize a manager's routine agenda:
- Defining resources.
- Developing strategies.
- Coordinating divisions.
- Motivating employees.
- Resolving conflicts.
- Overcoming team member resistance.
The manager's overarching goal is to inspire organizational unity, partly by encouraging solid interpersonal relationships. The mission is to empower subordinates in order to boost productivity and spark creativity.
How can a managerial coach add motivation to those efforts? Coaches and managers work closely together, using these sessions for deeper reflection. It is an opportunity for the manager to reconsider the workplace challenges from different perspectives, applying a fresh recognition of their own strengths and weaknesses. With their coach, they can observe their own behaviors and reaction patterns. They may also venture into new areas. For example, some managers may have risen through the ranks with little preparation for professional conflict. Now would be an ideal time to develop those necessary skills.
An active partnership
Good coaches often uncover underlying employee fears of failure. It is important their clients understand that the entire exercise serves to tailor goals, customizing them to the circumstances at hand. Coaches rely on proven techniques to engage managers. The ultimate purpose is to make the manager more self-sufficient while providing them with tools for improving business and interpersonal functions.
- Attentive listening — eliminating distractions and avoiding interruptions.
- Understanding body language — maintaining eye contact, calm movements, nonverbal cues.
- Asking exploratory questions — encouraging open dialogue.
- Providing feedback — recognizing both successes and areas in need of improvement.
- Planning for follow-up — suggesting an action plan.
- Reviewing lessons learned — using setbacks as opportunities for development.
Managers who become distracted amid their constant flow of daily duties may forget to concentrate on their equally important leadership role. Coaches can direct their attention back to those skills and help managers develop the traits and strengths of outstanding team leaders, such as:
- Celebrate hard work and achievements.
- Collaborate on decisions.
- Admit to mistakes.
- Leverage strengths.
- Show respect and compassion.
First-rate coaching can be life changing at best and shed new light on longtime practices. Managers can even take some of the lessons beyond their workplace, learning to be better listeners by understanding the difference between what is being expressly said and, just as importantly, what is not being said.
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