A managerial role is one that involves leading others and helping them make progress and grow professionally. It is not a job that should focus on the work as much as it should focus on the people. The most important thing a manager can do is to help their team members experience progress, and this is done through coaching. Managers are significantly more effective when they regularly engage in “coaching conversations” with their team. Coaching is the single most important managerial skill that separates highly effective managers from average ones. How, then, does a manager become a great coach? Here are a few ways managers can engage their employees and become better coaches.
Have you ever been trying to talk to someone who seems completely preoccupied with other things on their mind? Contrast that experience with someone who is completely focused on you and actively listening to what you have to say. When managers listen deeply and with full attention, they are inviting their team members to open up, ask questions, and seek support. This is the first step in creating a high-quality connection with employees. In turn, when the manager poses questions to the employee, they are more likely to respond positively and be open to feedback.
Ask, Don’t Tell
In order for a manager to become a good coach, they must reassess how they interact with their employees. It is essential to establish an open, respectful relationship and this is done by taking a step back during certain situations. Managers typically have a higher level of expertise and can easily be tempted to step in and correct their employees or tell them how they should have handled a particular situation. However, good coaches restrain from that impulse and refrain from giving all of the answers. They allow their team members to handle things on their own first, before intervening. Afterwards, they ask open-ended questions that challenge employees to think about other possible solutions. Rather than telling team members exactly what to do, good coaches guide them and encourage them to find their own answers.
Encourage Positive Thinking
Oftentimes in a coaching conversation, the person being coached gets caught up in their frustrations and begins venting to the manager. A good coach will take a moment to acknowledge their frustrations but then encourages them to move forward in a positive way. Together, come up with solutions and strategies that will help the employee grow. The manager might even offer to provide additional training or continuing education opportunity to help the employee strengthen their skills.
Trust Your Employees
The best coaches possess those qualities that are sometimes easier said than done. This includes being a good listener, observer and really trusting their employees to get the job done. Good coaches give their team members the tools and resources needed to do their job, and then they take a step back and allow the employees to step up to the situation. A good manager acts as a guide and mentor as opposed to a “boss.”