What makes a great manager? More and more, the answer seems to lie in not managing. The most successful managers focus on coaching their employees; not simply supervising, but collaborating with them to uncover solutions, play to their strengths and develop their careers.
While traditional management focuses on meeting goals, coaching focuses on holistic employee development. The result is that goals are still met, and employees are empowered and engaged.
Why does coaching work?
You hired your employees, presumably, for their unique sets of talents, skills and experience. All too often, though, the traditional management approach smothers those advantages by overlooking individual abilities and insisting that everyone do things the same way.
While that approach might be wise in highly regulated situations, such as those in which physical safety is at stake, coaching makes more sense for companies that want to encourage innovation, growth and self-agency. Anytime there are multiple paths to an outcome, coaching is appropriate. This more inclusive approach considers individual differences, allowing employees to draw on their own experiences and perspectives. Coaching also focuses on growth, emphasizing helping employees develop new skills and positive behaviors that will enable them to chart their own career paths.
Employees allowed to play to their strengths are happier, but they aren’t the only ones who benefit. A focus on strengths-based development, as opposed to top-down management, has been shown to increase sales, profit, retention and employee engagement.
What does coaching do that managing doesn’t?
Traditional managers assign, delegate, monitor and evaluate, typically with little employee input. As it rewards obedience and efficiency, but not creativity or critical thinking, this top-down approach can be inadvertently stifling, frustrating managers and employees alike.
Coaching, on the other hand, is collaborative. It’s designed to help employees learn to think critically, find solutions and work autonomously. Coaching goes beyond simply getting the job at hand done; it focuses on career development, self-improvement and fostering a growth mindset.
In many respects, coaching is the more challenging job. A good coach sets clear goals, asks questions, listens actively and provides constructive feedback in order to leverage and develop each employee’s strength. Coaching helps employees solve problems, design action plans and make decisions by drawing outward what is already inside of them, their skills and experiences. Being a
coach requires a more significant investment of time, energy, discipline and patience. However, the rewards — include greater engagement, higher morale and better productivity — are worth it.
How do you become a better coach?
Some people are naturally talented at coaching and seem to have a gift for bringing out excellence in others. Those people are rare, but if you don’t think you’re one of them, don’t despair. Coaching is an acquirable skill that virtually anyone can attain.
There are multiple routes to learning how to be a good coach. For starters, there is a wealth of material available online and in the library for people who would like to learn on their own. To meet your specific goals, you may want to consider formal training, such as HR training solutions from BPM. And, perhaps, one of the best ways to learn how to be a coach is to be coached yourself.
The right tools for the proper support
Technology can provide vital support for the coaching process. For example, employee performance management software, such as BPM Link, facilitates conversations between employees and managers, helps establish and track goals, and supports individual accountability.
If you’re interested in building a coaching culture, but don’t know where to start, our team would be pleased to work with you. Contact us today to learn more.