If you’ve a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I believe there is a compelling case for managers in organizations to become effective coaches. Let’s now turn our sights to the personal benefits derived from doing so.
The big prize is improved performance. Both the improved performance of a well-coached team and your own performance as their boss. This is important as increasingly organizations are waking up to the fact that managers ought to be judged on their ability to get results from others. Some go as far as to include measures in these areas in their performance review systems. I think it’s very encouraging to see targets concerning coaching and development alongside those for sales and cost containment. It’s also crucial for the modern manager to recognize that managing is different to doing. The most obvious example perhaps being in the sales environment when many managers struggle with not being able to get out in the field to sell their wares themselves, but having to influence their team to do so instead.
Allied to this then is the benefit of saving time. Traditional management positions us as being the person with the answers, so if a team member approaches us with a problem we tell them how to solve it. Of course the next time there’s a similar problem we’re approached again for an answer and more of our time is absorbed. I’m sure you don’t need to me to tell you how exhausting this becomes. If through coaching we help people develop some skills and independence at the same time as solving a problem then soon they are able to solve problems for themselves and we have more time to do more coaching and build this capability still further.
All of this leads to improved relationships; another key benefit for the coaching manager. Coaching, with its emphasis on asking questions such that people can discover answers for themselves, honours other people’s intelligence. We are demonstrating our positive view of their ability and when people are valued in this way they begin to see management and managers in a different light. They are more forthcoming in coaching conversations, more willing to show initiative without waiting to be told and thus another helpful loop and has been established.
Telling and instructing on the other hand fails to tap into other people’s abilities, their thinking muscles go into atrophy and they become quite resentful of a situation which finds them simply following orders. A coaching approach will also tap into each individual’s internal drivers or motivation and avoid you having to rely on company policy regarding salary and rewards as the only source of motivation. If these more external sources of motivation are inappropriate that they can actually do more harm than good.
So, to use a cliché, adopting coaching principles will see you able to work on your team, rather than in your team. As your people become more willing and able to take on matters of task, it frees your time – and your mind – to concentrate on longer term priorities and solving problems once and for all rather than firefighting each time they recur. An ability to do this is a skill highly prized by employers and it’s no surprise to see coaching now listed amongst the essential skills required in management job advertisements. Developing an ability to coach will do your career prospects no harm at all.