Manager Coaching Is Not Executive Coaching
A shortcoming of many coaching efforts aimed at managers (or the expectations set on managers) is to attempt to duplicate the approaches of executive or professional coaching programs. Naturally, there is plenty of overlap in the philosophy, techniques and targeted outcomes. But when it comes to developing managers as coaches there are three important factors we need to bear in mind:
- The manager is committed to coaching…to a point. Unlike the many professionals who embrace coaching as a career, managers rightly view this as just one component of their role. They will seek to balance coaching with more direct management tasks as well as completing their own work.
- The manager is not an independent agent, detached from the outcomes of the coaching. Even in the most trusting of reporting relationships, it is understood that the manager retains a certain degree of self-interest in the coaching. The manager must keep each direct report on-task and committed. They expect to see a tangible return on their own coaching efforts, preferably in the short term.
- The manager is far more knowledgeable about their specific business than an external coach. Managers have a bias for action, typically years of experience in the direct report’s role plus a lot of knowledge of the situation at hand. Unlike an external coach, the temptation to be prescriptive is great.
With these differences in mind, coaching efforts must seek to support managers in tapping into coaching approaches where it makes sense. But expecting the manager to put all self-interest to one side or pretend to act temporarily as an objective third party is counterproductive.
The Bottom Line
Coaching remains a key skill for managers to develop, and one that is growing in importance as organizations seek to remain nimble in response to a fast-changing environment. Traditional processes and management approaches are not, in themselves, flexible enough to adapt to changing business needs. Coaching is.
Managers may be unclear about what is expected of them, or even the value the organization places on coaching. Direct reports are looking for pragmatic advice and support that respects their independence and autonomy.
By building trusting relationships and balancing both the needs of the coachee and the business outcomes, managers can foster a team environment in which all members are open to giving and receiving feedback.
As organizations look to build stronger coaching cultures, key factors to consider include reinforcing a belief in coaching, developing senior leaders who can model coaching, and providing training that goes beyond coaching skills and establishes the belief and context required for success.
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How We Make You Better
All of our programs are built to make you a success. Which means we build them according to your specific and unique needs. This doesn’t mean we “customize” them to fit your business (which means nothing more than taking a templated program and tweaking it to fit your situation). We personalize them 100% from the beginning to ensure that we leverage every unique aspect of your business in order to innovate your ability to create success. This is a very critical difference.