Managers, Here's why you Need to Develop Your Coaching Skills
This piece is part of a multi-article series on workplace Coaching-- one of the most important and in-demand “power skills” of the changing workplace.
Front and center in organizational priorities now is the humanization of the workplace. Human-centered leadership working in partnership with employee-centered strategies can help guarantee employee retention and development success. It is, by and large, the leaders of an organization who set the tone for employee belonging, engagement, and openness to change.
In response to today’s changing world, employees are craving satisfaction and meaning in their work. (Managers, too!) The leaders who can deliver on those demands have teams that are more engaged, more satisfied, more productive, AND-- are more likely to stay with an organization.
Decades of research show that people want a manager who is invested in their professional and personal development. They want a coach, not a boss. Coaching, unambiguously, confers more to the employee experience. Not to mention, your own managerial experience.
Hesitant to develop your coaching skills as a manager? Think it’s just too time-consuming? Here are the top 5 reasons you should lead as a coach instead of as a manager.
Top 5 Reasons to be a Coaching Leader
“In the 1990s, coaching was strictly for Executive and D-Suite Leaders. Today in the 21st century, coaching is established for everyone, and organizations that support it have the competitive advantage.” - APLS Group
Reason #1 - Get More Engagement, Satisfaction, Productivity, and Results
This is the key distinction between coaching and managing as a leader. When employees feel empowered, they have stronger engagement, job satisfaction, and performance. Highly-engaged teams, in fact, show 21% greater profitability.
Great coaching managers focus on performance, strength, and engagement. They know how to create an environment that engages employees. These managers motivate and inspire with more than lip service.
“Coaching sends a message that "you are valued" to the employee and can increase commitment and engagement significantly,” confirms Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center.
Individually, empowered employee work performance typically delivers faster and better-executed results. The leaders who successfully empower others through coaching are ultimately themselves nearly 4x more likely to make good decisions and to financially outperform their peers, according to McKinsey. (That translates to increased recognition and promotion opportunities for you as the manager.)
Reason #2 - Promotes Employee Skill Development
Using coaching skills regularly with your team translates into continuous skill development. Particularly, in the manager-involvement-heavy areas of decision making and problem-solving.
“Coaching builds strategic thinking skills and confidence. It encourages team members to make decisions on their own and solve problems,” according to Powers. Not only does it then free up the manager’s time for more strategic work, but it also nurtures the employee and their mobility.
Coaching, moreover, ensures that performance issues don’t linger. The manager takes the opportunity to address any issue quickly to help the employee re-align their performance. Problems get nipped in the bud and both the employee and the work can get back on a success track.
It’s clear that coaching pulls its weight in enhancing the employee experience. What’s more, is that it creates a better experience for you as the manager. Managers learn and grow by developing and helping others; a powerful skill set that contributes to your own promotability.
Reason #3 - Cultivates Authentic Relationship-Building for Hybrid Working
As a people manager, you are responsible for people. This means showing your humanity and ability to care. When a leader can demonstrate both wisdom and compassion, there’s a remarkable impact on employee wellness and productivity. In fact, job satisfaction for those who work for a “wise and compassionate” boss is as high as 86%, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Coaching skills can help you create the kind of relationships you need to get the most from your people. As an added benefit.... annual performance reviews become that much easier since you’ve been evaluating and coaching all year. It’s continuous performance management.
Today’s new hybrid workplaces create (yet) another managerial challenge. It’s hard enough to build a relationship in person, let alone via a screen. Training for coaching skills actually can help with this whether or not you’re co-located.
These are human-relatability skills.
According to Cheryl Breukelman, Founder and Principal of Epiphany Coaches, “Hybrid workplace arrangements demand that we work harder to stay connected and aligned with our people. Coaching is an optimal approach to explore their needs, unfold challenges with them and support them to stay focused, healthy, and productive.”
Reason #4 - Frees Your Time!
Are you one of those managers who always feels like you are “lost in the weeds” directing on details? Teaching your team how to think and be empowered will be liberating… both to your soul and your calendar.
Time and time again, “too time-consuming” comes up as the argument against coaching as a manager. But taking the time to teach someone how to think for themselves or to act in certain situations will win you back time in the end. Think long-term about the cumulative time you will save. (Hint: It’s massive.)
Epiphany Coaches’ Breukelman expands, “Coaching allows leaders to table issues quickly and collaboratively, increasing buy-in from your people as they choose the best solutions for them to be successful with your support and feedback. It means that your people aren’t told what to do, rather, they brainstorm and select the option best for them based on their own style, strengths, and preferences.”
Reason #5 - Reduces Your Stress
Managers may be the vision of cool under pressure, but below the water, their legs are working furiously.
Managers feel more stress and burnout than the people they manage. And, it’s only getting worse according to Gallup.
As a manager, you’re:
- pulled in several directions at once,
- forced to endure endless meetings, and
- cursed to suffer never-ending administrative tasks.
With “time-consuming” consistently proclaimed by managers as the biggest challenge to coaching, can coaching employees legitimately reduce your stress versus adding to it?
The answer is a resolute “yes,” according to Ellen Cooperperson, CEO and founder of Cooperperson Performance Consulting, Coaching “[r]elieves pressure from the manager to be the expert and the answer person about everything.”
So, there you have it. Coaching will cure all your managerial woes. And most importantly, it will transform you into a “super” manager your direct reports will not want to leave. Time to take inventory of your skills and evaluate what you might need to develop or polish.
Here’s What You’ll Need to Develop Your Coaching Skills:
Learn to Listen… Actively and with Curiosity
Ask more questions. Tell and direct less. Learning to be curious, and importantly, how to use that curiosity ultimately leads to employees feeling supported and heard. Your ability to listen shows genuine interest.
“When you ask a question, be quiet and listen for an answer. It forces employees to consider possibilities. Giving them the answer is not the answer. It creates dependency,“ asserts Ellen Cooperperson.
Learn to Trust... Empowering is Powerful
Trust and results are intertwined. Trust leads to higher levels of productivity, effectiveness, and engagement. Moreover, you create motivation, creativity, and loyalty when employees feel trusted.
For many, it’s tough to undo their micromanager habits. Your lack of trust as a manager, though, cultivates a toxic workplace culture and encourages your employees to leave.
Coaching starts from a premise of trust so that employees feel empowered to succeed. Building trust with your team members consequently empowers them to solve problems themselves, take on risks, and bigger challenges.
Cooperperson adds, “To build a success-driven team, people must be treated with respect. That begins with really listening to their thoughts and being curious about their point of view. To be an effective leader, one that people want to follow, requires self-awareness and the humility to get our ego out of the way.”
Learn to Adapt… to each employee’s personality and goals
Frequent conversations build rapport and connection. The advantage of more natural conversations is that they go a long way to get to know the employee on a deeper level. Uncovering each team member’s unique strengths through these natural conversations then allows you as the coaching manager to upskill them in a targeted way.
Unlocking people’s potential is the cornerstone of coaching. In order to do that for each employee, you must be able to adjust and flex.
Tara Powers also trusts in tools like DISC personality assessments. “This helps managers understand how to direct, delegate, motivate and develop team members with different style preferences. By considering style, managers can quickly adapt their coaching approach to meet the needs of their employees. This can create a much more impactful and effective coaching conversation.”
Learn to Invest Time in Employees’ Success… to accelerate your own
It’s a mind shift that’s critical to coaching success, according to Wes Martin from Strata Leadership. “... [I]n adopting a coaching approach, managers must believe that their effectiveness is based on the team's success above and beyond individual success.”
Great managers are coaches who see their role as what employees need to make them successful. The central-most feature of this general idea is time.
Making time to:
- talk and listen to connect
- observe to find strengths and weaknesses
- care and show empathy
- encourage to create confidence
- challenge to take on bigger risks
- motivate to overcome obstacles
- perceive hidden talents
Coaching leaders are enthusiastic about developing their people. Taking the time to develop employees in a consistent and continuous way demonstrates that enthusiasm. Managers who coach understand their own personal success is intertwined with that of their team members. When employees are successful, the manager is too.
The research tells us-- coaching is the key to excellence. Employees want an experience that includes satisfaction and meaning. Simple coaching techniques like feedback can yield far-reaching rewards to the employee experience. Making the shift to a leader as coach means transforming into a manager that your people will not want to leave.
This article is part of findcourses.com’s series on Coaching. For more insight on becoming a coaching leader, read more here:
Management vs. Coaching— Can 1 Person be Both?
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