The Manager As Coach…Maximizing People Potential

The management style of coaching is the most effective way you can sustain employee productivity and effectiveness. This hands-on, one-of-the-team style of management provides a climate of trust that is conducive to keeping employees motivated and engaged in their work. There are 4 key qualities to effective coaching:

1. Loyalty: Employees today do not feel much loyalty from management. They have seen family and friends go through layoffs, they have seen an explosion in technology with corporate resources being funneled in that direction, and they do not feel secure in their jobs. While companies may no longer be able to guarantee “forever” employment, coaches can show loyalty to their employees in a number of ways:

a. Honest communication…give timely and reliable information to your employees…always important and especially so if an organization is going through change.

b. Allow employees to express how they feel without fear of punishment or retribution…a must if you want to build trust and loyalty with your staff.

c. Never ask employees to do something that goes against company ethics or values.

d. Encourage employees to grow and develop their potential, and support them in their endeavors.

e. Treat each employee as a unique individual.

2. Empathetic Listening: One of the most under-valued of all management skills is the ability to listen. A coach spends more time listening than managing. When an employee needs to be heard, the coach:

a. Finds a private spot (a neutral place like the cafeteria off-hours if employee is likely to feel intimidated in the coach’s office) and makes time available to listen.

b. Holds all calls unless urgent and lets employee know that there will be no interruptions … employee has all the coach’s time for (x) amount of minutes. We spend time with things we value, and this non-interrupted time is a strong signal to employee that he/she is important and valued.

c. Sits down and leans forward in an “I am interested” position and focuses in on what the employee is saying, sometimes taking notes if appropriate.

d. Asks open-ended questions to draw employee out, and pays close attention to what is said. Employee will feel understood when his/her needs and concerns can be accurately verbalized by the coach.

e. Lets employee know that the coach is in his/her corner and willing to help. “How can we work through this” is an excellent phrase for showing empathy and concern.

3. Skills Stretching: To run a team that is competitive, creative and innovative, the coach should create an environment where employees are given an opportunity to develop new skills. The coach should carefully evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and confidence levels of each employee, and move individuals into areas where their skills can be expanded and their interests can be developed. Classes and seminars can be effective tools in achieving skills-stretching. However, sometimes all it takes to develop potential is added responsibility and encouragement all along the way.

4. Role Modeling: Coaches are role models whether they know it or not. The staff’s view of the coach can affect his/her attitude towards the entire organization. How each staff member feels about the coach can have a profound effect on how productive he/she is. Coaches can be excellent role models by:

a. Providing a “level playing field.” The coach does not show favoritism, and each employee is judged equally on his/her work performance.

b. Giving employees constant and consistent feedback on their performance.

c. Showing appreciation for employees. When coaches give employees approval, praise and recognition, they respond by becoming more committed to the vision and doing what it takes to make that vision a reality.

d. Taking pride in themselves and their own work and emulating the behavior that they would require of their employees.

Coaching is not easy. But the reward is great…a cohesive, alive “excited about the future” team working together towards a shared vision. It is this type of team that will keep a company competitive, innovative and on top in the rapidly changing workplace of today.

Barbara Mintzer Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved

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