Coaching as a form of management has been gaining traction in recent years. Instead of commanding and delegating to their employees, managers who use this approach strive to serve as a catalyst to align employees’s goals with the company’s goals.
When you think about a sports team, the coach teaches, sharpens skills and develops their players. But then the coach puts the players each where they are most successful, sends them out onto the field, and lets them play. They guide from the sidelines, and may even call some plays. But if the coach has done their job well, the team functions well on its own and all of the players are confident in their role.
Coaching your employees works in much the same way: You develop and guide your employees, and then you send them out into the field. The goal is to empower them to do their jobs, and make their own decisions.
Here are some ways to approach a coaching style of leadership:
Be less directive.
It may be a shift in our mindset, but you want to focus more on guiding your employees than telling them what to do. What’s the difference? Guiding is more open-ended than directing. So if an employee comes to you with a challenge, don’t solve it for them; instead, have a conversation and help them explore different solutions themselves. This will not only challenge their assumptions and thought processes, but help them to solidify their decision-making processes.
They may not choose the solution you would have chosen, and you have to be comfortable with that. But oftentimes the result is still just as favorable because the employee is so invested in the outcome. If the employee fails, you have to be willing to accept that and turn it into a learning opportunity. Coaching is focused on the long term success of your employee, even if that means there are some short term failures.
Motivate and support.
In order to be an effective coach, you’ll need to develop your own emotional intelligence. Coaching is a more individualized approach to management. To do this, you must create and maintain strong relationships with your employees. Hold regular one-on-ones in which you listen, ask guided questions, give feedback and assist with goal-setting.
Every person is different, and you need to find out what will motivate each of your employees, and utilize that accordingly. Some will be able to tell you what motivates them, and you’ll have to observe others to figure it out. Similarly, each person will require different levels and kinds of support, and it’s up to you to work with the employee to figure out the details.
Empower through education.
A manager who coaches has a passion for teaching and watching employees grow. They offer
professional development and learning opportunities as a way to motivate and cultivate talent. Employees who are offered these opportunities are not only typically more satisfied and productive, but often will become passionate about what they are learning.
Being exposed to new opportunities will also foster creativity and innovation in your employees.; they will become inspired and excited about their work, and the prospects of new and challenging projects. This excitement often relays to the rest of the team.
In addition to having conversations about where things are lacking — which are certainly important — it is perhaps even more important to regularly let your employees know what’s going well. This not only motivates your employee, but gives them a sense of confidence…which is what they will need to be able to trust their own decision-making processes. It can also serve as a catalyst to discuss ways they can build from these successes to continue improving.
A couple things about praise: Be genuine about your praise; you want to motivate accordingly, and in addition, people can see right through a fake compliment. Something else to consider is how the employee prefers to be recognized. Do they like one-on-one attention? Do they want to be called out to the team? Make sure to tailor your approach.
Managers who choose to coach employees rather than command them are highly-regarded by those employees due to their thoughtful approach. They are also highly-regarded by their managers because they develop the talent of their employees and drive continuous improvement, which leads to growth and success.
Need a coach of your own? An Executive Career Coach can help you reach your goals!