Today line managers in businesses, require to train their direct reports on an ongoing basis. While this is encouraging, many organizations struggle and hence miss out on the potential to build an enabling atmosphere that fosters successful coaching culture in a business environment.
Successful Coaching is much more than a set of skills to master. It’s more than someone operating as a coach for another individual who works for another individual. Simply put, Coaching is the process of unlocking people’s potential for them to optimize their performance. It is assisting them in their learning rather than instructing them.
Coaching in a business environment is aimed to enhance employee performance help unlock potential that they are also not aware of possessing. The challenge is, how do you achieve the goal? How many line managers can recognize the potential in their subordinates?
How to don the cloak of a coach? How to transition from giving your team instructions to being their guide and mentor. To achieve this, the leaders must invest quality time in the people they manage by participating in good, interactive, and engaging dialogues. Quality time spent, strengthens the manager’s ability to communicate by asking probing questions and listening to understand. It is the first step to transition from hearing to listening.
For a conducive learning environment, effective communication is a must. Organizations need to incorporate processes and technologies to help managers communicate regularly with their team members. Regular check-ins allow for ongoing dialogues allow both managers & employees to learn about the work they are doing, its impact on the organization and how it is likely to evolve.
The employees respond to what they see rather than what they hear. If the talk and the manager’s walk do not match what they see in their subordinates, it reflects the walk, not the talk.
Doing what you preach is the basis of effective leadership, set values, inculcate a forward-looking culture, enabling a leader to lead from the front. Allows employees to deal with failure and learn the behaviours they should exhibit when under stress. Builds trust and confidence in the manager, increasing the acceptability of coaching/ mentoring from the manager.
Employees, in turn, mimic their leaders’ actions. They learn from the manager’s mistakes and provide insightful observations. Leadership is about being the change you wish to see in your organization.
If an organization wishes to create a culture that imbibes coaching/ mentoring in its essence, then the organizational structure needs to be reviewed. Less than nine direct reports is a preferred number for a Manager to have, to be effective.
Regular meetings with direct employees is a given. Formal or informal, each session needs to have a structure to it. These meetings need to fulfil multiple objectives. They should be a check-in on work progress, understand obstacles and applaud successes when appropriate, affirm professional goals and ambitions, and offer assistance. These check-ins must be paced appropriately to allow purposeful and constructive interaction between line managers and direct reports. For these interactions to be fruitful and deliver the desired results establishing trust and developing the required skills will be needed.
Irrespective of the fire blazing outside, the Managers need to be fully present once in an interaction. Schedule a time to meet with your direct report, be on time and remain focused on the discussion through the duration. A “cell phone off”, “mails off” approach – avoid distractions and devote full concentration to the task at hand.
Build Leaders. Train your managers to cultivate the attitude of a leader. They should learn to develop their employees. Snowballing of this culture will, in turn, help the organization grow.
Policies and procedures are excellent, but your most valuable asset is your workforce. Ensure that your line managers are exposed to good leadership development programs to become influential leaders themselves.
In this era of disruptions, encourage new ideas. Managers need to be instrumental in cultivating an inquisitive mentality. Solicit opinions of direct reports on any number of topics: a task, an idea, a project, or any other issue. Never assume their knowledge is limited to what you tell them. The more they feel included more they will stretch themselves to make the ideas successful.
Successful Coaching / Mentoring is not about giving the best answer to a given issue; it is about knowing when to provide the solution and when to guide the employee to discover the answer. The ability to see the difference defines your success as a coach or mentor.
For a manager to be an effective coach, gaining direct employees’ trust is essential. Only when the employees trust their manager will they participate, share opinions and ideas candidly, and take ownership. A manager who doesn’t listen to his team members, or offer them a chance to make their views known, is not leading. An environment of openness and transparency needs to be created. After that, providing them with opportunities to communicate their ideas and concerns will see positive results.
Managers should find personal fulfilment in the process of assisting others in realizing their potential and maximizing performance. Managers who enjoy the success of their direct reports are the ones that make for being good coaches or mentors.
Make the One-on-Ones an event to look forward to. Be strict about scheduling the one-on-ones and ensure that they happen. Treat them as events that add value and are treated in all seriousness by the management. It makes the employee feel a critical cog in the wheel called the organization.
Creating a coaching culture needs commitment from managers to lead the way. It requires responsibility, discipline, accountability, and continuous improvement. It’s about creating a culture where people are inspired not just by their success but also because they see how it makes a difference to the organization as a whole. Executive coaching services can train senior leaders to adopt the traits that make a manager a coach/mentor and an effective leader.