One of the most effective tools in developing employee talent is coaching. Managers who value the importance of coaching think about their role as a manager in a way that makes coaching a natural part of their leadership toolkit. A study conducted by Bersin & Associates reported that organizations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach. A Harvest Business Review reports that managers do not need to be professional coaches. Rather, they are dedicated managers who can implement coaching skills into their busy, hard-working days. Their study examined some reasons successful leaders make time in their schedule for coaching: 1.) They feel rewarded helping people develop. Just like the artist who looks at material and can envision something better, these leaders feel the people who work for them will need to learn and grow to fulfill their roles. They believe that those with the greatest potential will need their assistance to realize their ambitions. It does take time for managers to adapt his or her style to the needs and style of each individual, but successful managers believe this to be part of the job, not a special favor. 2.) They bring curiosity to the table. Successful coaches ask a lot of questions and are genuinely interested in learning more about how things are really going, what types of issues people are encountering on the job, and what needs to be performed better. They typically do not need to be taught how to ask questions. It comes naturally. Their curiosity fuels the coaching dialogue and opens up give and take between the coach and the learner. The learners can openly share his or her thoughts, doubts and mistakes. 3.) They envision coaching as a key tool for achieving business goals. Effective managers believe they simply have to take time to coach. They are not doing it to simply be nice—they see it as an essential activity for business success. Their reasons include competing for talent, operating in a highly turbulent marketplace, desiring to retain their budding leaders and aiming to grow their solid team members. They realize extremely talented people are hard to find and hard to recruit. If you are seen as a manager who can help these employees thrive, they will gravitate to you. An organization cannot be successful based on the support of the extremely talent alone. You also need solid players and they will need a manager’s help to build their skills and change with the realities of the marketplace. 4.) They believe in establishing connections. Empathy goes a long way for the coaching manager in building an understanding of what each individual employee needs and adjusting his or her style accordingly. For example, one employee may accept coaching with a “give it to me straight” attitude, while another employee might need time to think and come to his or her own conclusion. Effective managers believe in putting themselves into their employees’ shoes. 5.) They are proactive. Stephen R. Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that we can choose to be reactive to our environment or proactive. He believes the first habit of highly effective people is proactivity. Proactive coaches use their resourcefulness and initiatives to find solutions rather than simply reporting problems and letting other people solve them. 6.) They think win/win. Covey also believes in seeking agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. If a manager coaches a team member to be more successful, the company benefits as well. When developing an organizational culture, reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertently rewarding win/lose behavior. 7.) They are not out to fix anyone. TLNT.com reports that coaching is about developing employees and facilitating the learning process. Meet the employee where they are and guide the conversation through questions, not directives, to a mutual agreement of the priorities of development. 8.) They set up a clear accountability structure. Actions and outcomes are outlined to help keep the employees focused on achieving the desired goals. Ensure feedback information is heard and understood by the employee and ask clarifying questions. How to be an effective coach: Becoming an effective coach can be accomplished over time. In order to develop a coaching mindset, managers need to ask themselves questions:
- Does your organization have the talent it needs to compete? If not, why not?
- Have you done a poor job hiring, or are people not performing up to their potential?
- Who in my organization is a good coach and will they offer me advice to develop my own coaching style?
Before you start coaching, you need to develop a culture of trust and a solid relationship with the people you will be coaching. Learn some of the basic principles of managerial coaching that will help you develop your own expertise as a coach. Finally, the mindset should be focused on the employees you are coaching. With a coaching mindset, your employees will be developed and challenged in ways that foster new skills and enable them to learn from experiences. Spring Arbor University is dedicated to helping managers stay relevant in a changing world. Visit our website for information about our relationship-centric master’s degree programs for aspiring leaders.