There are managers who coach and managers who don’t. Leaders in the latter category are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an effective tool to develop talent. So what do managers do differently when they are leading from a coach mindset?
Think about the difference between managers who tell employees what to do and managers who take the time to work with employees on professional development. It’s that commitment to coaching that is the key difference between the two.
Successful managers know how to offer regular support and encouragement to employees, helping them to maximise their potential so they can get where they want to go in their career.
Having a manager take on a coaching role will also help employees to stay motivated and focused on their goals. When there’s someone else you’re accountable to, who has placed a lot of time and energy into your career, you’ll want to consistently deliver your best work possible.
There’s a sound business reason for encouraging a coaching culture. Employees become more valuable to an organisation and hopefully develop into management material. Encouraging people to improve also contributes positively to the working atmosphere. It shows you care about your staff, value their contribution and want them to reach their potential.
Furthermore, this feel-good factor generally translates into more interested, communicative and engaged employees. If people feel “loved”, there is an energy and willingness to pitch in which is good for morale as well as creativity and productivity. It also speeds up decision-making and makes it easier and faster to implement change.
Front-line managers may be the most important element to achieving success on the front lines and the ability of managers to coach their teams to higher levels of proficiency and performance is a manager's most important skillset.
Recent research by the City & Guilds Group surveyed over 1,000 UK professionals on their thoughts and experiences of coaching in the workplace. The research demonstrates the benefits of coaching for companies as they adapt to the future world of work, highlighting the potential risks faced by employers that don’t harness this powerful tool for change.
According to the study:
Coaching plays a critical part in boosting productivity as people move between roles or embrace portfolio careers, both growing trends in today’s workplace. Changing roles often means facing new challenges and research also found that people who didn’t receive coaching at this critical moment are over eight times more likely to say that they still don’t feel able to work to the best of their ability compared to those that did receive coaching.
Another research project conducted by Manchester Consulting Inc. aimed to quantify the business impact of executive coaching. In a study of 100 executives who had undergone coaching, return on investment (ROI) was 5.7 times the initial investment outlay.
Other tangible business impacts of coaching include:
A study by Gegner explored the outcomes of the coaching progress from an interpersonal and intrapersonal perspective. As a result of coaching, executives reported that they had become more aware of self and others and that they assumed more responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, they all reported positive changes in performance.
Also, consider these statistics presented by the Association for Talent Development:
In addition to engagement, coaching also improves business performance. A recent Bersin & Associates study reports that providing managers with coaching skills can provide a 130% increase in business performance.
Managers who believe in the value of coaching think about their role as a manager in a way that makes coaching a natural part of their managerial toolkit. They may be line managers and staff leaders who manage a group of individuals, and they are busy, hardworking people. So, what do they do to actively implement a coaching mindset?
1 They see coaching as an essential tool for achieving business goals
They see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success. Most managers will tell you that they don’t have the time to coach. However, time isn’t a problem if you think coaching is a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.” Whether it’s because they are competing for talent, operating in a highly turbulent market place, trying to retain their budding leaders, or aiming to grow their solid players, they believe that they simply have to take the time to coach
2 They enjoy helping people develop
These managers assume that the people who work for them don’t necessarily show up ready to do the job, but that they will need to learn and grow to fulfil their role and adapt to changing circumstances. They believe that those with the highest potential, who can often contribute the most to a business, will need their help to realise their ambitions. Situational Leaders must adapt their style to the needs and style of each particular individual. If a manager is in tune with what you are doing, they can spot what you need there and then – this is “coaching in the moment”.
3 They are curious
Coaching managers ask a lot of questions. They are genuinely interested in finding out more about how things are going, what kinds of problems people are running into, where the gaps and opportunities are, and what needs to be done better. This curiosity facilitates the coaching dialogue, the give-and-take between coach and learner in which the learner freely shares their perceptions, doubts, mistakes, and successes so that they together reflect on what’s happening.
4 They are interested in establishing connections
The coaching manager has empathy which allows them to build an understanding of what each employee needs and appropriately adjust his or her style. A trusting, connected relationship helps managers better gauge which approach to take.
Coaching “in-the-moment” requires the ability to observe others, ask questions and listen to their responses. This means coaching one-on-one immediately before or after an interaction. Most people learn through experience and most learning can be enhanced with self-analysis. So the key to effective coaching is not to tell others how to do things, it’s to ask the kind of questions that will lead them to discover answers for themselves.
The 3 coaching “in-the-moment” questions:
1. What went well? This highlights the specific things done well so the positive actions can be remembered in the future.
2. What didn’t go as well as expected? This question draws out areas for improvement. These are things within the person’s control, but could also reveal areas that are outside their span of control.
3. If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently? This encourages self-learning because it asks the person to apply the answers to the first two questions in a way that will help them improve future performance.
Coaching “in-the-moment” isn’t difficult – anyone can learn the technique. All it takes is some practice and a sincere desire to help others, and yourself, learn through their experiences.
The Chartered Management Institute reports that coaching is now seen as a key ingredient in improving employee engagement in organisations. When used appropriately, coaching can be a cost-effective approach to development, focusing on specific individuals and their identified developmental needs.
Learning some of the basic principles of managerial coaching and coaching ‘in the moment’ will help you develop your own expertise as a coach. The core lesson for managers is that coaching isn’t always about telling people the answer. Rather, it is more about having a conversation and asking good, open-ended questions that allow the people you are coaching to reflect on what they are doing and how they can do things differently in the future to improve performance.
Here are some of the key characteristics of a good coach manager:
Coaching is non-directive and focused on co-creating a trusting and equal partnership in which people can flourish and realise their true potential. Fostering a coaching environment may require a change in managerial style, particularly for managers who tend to be prescriptive and are used to telling people how they want things done. Micro-managers leave very little room for people to learn or to build their experience and that’s essentially what coaching is all about – empowering your team to make their own decisions by fostering their confidence, developing their powers of discrimination and letting them come up with their own solutions to problems.
Whether you are looking to train to become a professional Coach or want to gain a qualification in coaching, or you simply want to learn the basic principles of managerial coaching, then GBS can help you.
At GBS we are passionate about coaching because we know it contributes so much to organisational and individual success. The proven benefits to any organisation that adopts a coaching culture, as well as to the individual are numerous, particularly around employee engagement.
We can create a coaching programme customised to your individual Business requirements, for example, we can provide coaching masterclasses delivered by our pool of accredited Coaches. Our Coaches can also provide 1:1 Executive coaching for your Business Managers and Leaders, or individuals where a need has been identified and in support of an individual’s professional development and career plans.
We can also provide team coaching, which helps people understand how to work better with others. It's an effective method for showing teams how to reduce conflict and improve their working relationships. The team can then focus on its real work and achieve its objectives.
Other Managers choose to gain a qualification in coaching and mentoring, which you can complete via distance learning at Brighton School of Business and Management (BSBM). BSBM offer a series of Business Coaching and Mentoring courses, at different levels for Supervisors, Managers or Senior Managers and Directors. The courses are accredited by the Chartered Management Institute and therefore recognised nationally by employers.
Brighton School of Business and Management (BSBM), a sister company within the GBS Corporate Training Group is an international online distance learning College offering a wide range of UK accredited and internationally recognised Management and Business qualifications, at both graduate and postgraduate levels.