Amity Institute Of Training & Development

What it takes you to be a great Coach Manager

As per the popular saying - People do not quit a job, they quit a boss. Research shows people are more likely to switch jobs when they have a terrible boss. Jaime Roca, Senior Vice President, Research & Advisory, Gartner HR Practice. “Our research shows that employees who report to managers who coach effectively are 40% more engaged, exhibit 38% more discretionary effort and are 20% more likely to stay at their organizations than those who report to ineffective coaches.” The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefited from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.

Gallup started studying managers many years ago (including an analysis of 49,495 business units with 1.2 million employees across 22 organizations in seven industries and 45 countries) and found that great managers are completely different from adequate ones. In brief, they are not bosses. Bossing is the least of what they do and a last, unwelcome, resort. Rather, these managers are coaches.

Coach managers create opportunities for people to use their strengths. A manager should become aware of the strengths and areas for improvement of their team members in a much deeper way than is possible by just observing and evaluating their performances. Such heightened awareness and knowledge may help the manager assign jobs, identify potentials, and prepare the team more effectively toward a long-term vision. Tameka Williamson of the Forbes Coaches Council said, “This knowledge becomes the power you need to strategically align your team in a way that fills in the gaps. Then you can empower them to take ownership and solve problems under your guidance, focused on working together as a high-performing and solution-oriented team.” A manager can be so aware only when he dons the hat of a Coach and takes the mantle of Coaching his team to be better rather than just managing them.

Let us explore together as what it takes to be a Coach Manager and how can we develop the relevant skills to be good at that.

# 1: Shifting the focus: The difference comes from focus. In managing an employee, the focus is on being directive: here's what needs to be done, here is how I would like you to do it, here is when it needs to be completed. The challenge with being a directive manager is that you create a syndrome of "Mother May I?" (Remember the children's game, where no one could move until they said, "Mother May I"?) Employees learn to always ask the expert, which in this case is the manager. But the manager becomes frustrated. "Why do I have to have all the answers? How is this efficient if everyone is asking for my guidance on every little task?". Micromanagement becomes the feedback loop because employees cannot manage to move without the boss's ok or approval. If the manger’s/ leader’s bandwidth is taken away in micromanagement, wonder when the strategic thinking would happen and when the vision of taking the organisation to the next level would be thought through!

How to put in practice? - Coaching takes on a collaborative and empowering approach, pointing team members towards their resourcefulness and insight. Instead of providing knowledge on processes, procedures and necessary tasks, the coach manager asks the employee to self-identify and self-direct towards what is missing. The idea is to make the unconscious conscious, as the employee discovers blind spots and opportunities (rather than being told, scolded, or critiqued in a particular direction). The coach manager’s agenda is insight - the kind of knowledge that comes from the inside - and behavioural change. Insight is critical because, in my experience, if someone does not see something for themselves it does not exist. You can get compliance from directive management. But if you want to inspire the hearts and minds of your employees, it is time for a different approach, hence Coach!

# 2: Listen, Listen, Listen! Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work, according to this Salesforce survey featured in Forbes. At least 50% of every conversation is listening...unless, of course, you are a manager who is passing out instructions. Listening is the often-forgotten skill that managers lack.

How to put in practice? - Can you listen to your team members without judgement, no matter what comes out of their mouths? That is tricky! The impulse to correct, fix and change is a strong one ineffective manager. Effective coaches understand how to listen at a deeper level. What would happen if your team felt that you were listening to them? Does not mean you have to grant wishes or let the inmates run the asylum. But hearing other viewpoints can shape your own, as well as impacting the effectiveness of the entire organization. So, practice to keep your biases out of the way and truly listen. It is the most difficult skills to acquire, but not an impossible one. Step back whenever you then you are getting in your bias trap or have a strong impulse to correct. Regular practice would help to be better at it soon. As Nelson Mandela said - "It seems impossible until it's done".

# 3: Challenge your perspective. We all have a perspective, that reflects how we see the world. That perspective (also called a premise, or point of view) is the reason we move forward or stay stuck. Having a rigid perspective about the world and people is one of the reasons why people fail to evolve and be better. Moreover, having a rigid perspective to the ever-changing world and people’s behaviour is itself a wrong premise! How can we have a fixed perspective towards something ever-changing?

How to put in practice? - An effective coach practices self-leadership, to recognize that we all have limiting beliefs. Luckily, when those beliefs are seen and understood objectively, a new viewpoint emerges. You can only help your team to leave a limiting premise behind when you have been able to resolve the same at your end. Be aware of your thoughts when your team member is stating something opposite or not in tune with your perspective. Once you are aware, take a step back and restrain to pass judgements and use your skill to listen without being judgemental.

Once you have mastered this skill; you can help your team to leave a limiting premise. Will they commit and agree to new behaviour? Because of the commitment comes from them, you are headed in the direction of new results. On a personal note, I believe that Coaching is a great skill to develop. It helps one to look at one’s bling spots objectively, recognise them and then work on them. It is a way by which one becomes more open-minded, a great listener and above all an individual whose focus is to bring out the best in others.

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By: Vaani Gandha


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