Understanding when to take a coaching approach over a managing mentality can make a huge difference in your effectiveness as a leader. To be an effective leader you need to master both leadership styles; the key is to know when to wear which hat.
When you’re managing, you’re often organizing a project, providing instructions, outlining the end goal for your business, and you may find yourself being more directive and task-oriented.
Coaching, on the other hand, is more developmental and geared toward helping someone solve a problem or issue. You want to help your team members become better and more valuable individuals by mentoring and guiding them to where they need to go.
Taking a coaching approach has been shown to be extremely beneficial for organizations. Bersin & Associates conducted a study on how coaching can help an organization achieve better business results. Their results showed that organizations with upper/senior management leaders who effectively and frequently coached their employees improved their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coached employees.
The coaching approach also exhibits great role-modeling to the overall team. Working in collaboration with an individual to guide them in the right direction can rub off! Before you know it, team members tend to coach and help one another and everyone benefits through the teamwork. And this type of culture presents a more enjoyable work environment and the team’s benefits map perfectly to the achievement of organizational goals.
1. Learn to Ask vs. Tell
More often than not, when employees are assigned a task without an explanation as to how it will affect the big picture or end goal, the task just becomes another item for them to cross of their to-do lists. Of course, if you hire great people, they expect to be engaged. And engaged people yearn to know why they are performing tasks. They want to know the business reasons that drive what they do. And this type of understanding breeds motivation, results and, in the end, satisfaction, and ultimately, satisfied clients.
Asking rather than telling offers employees the opportunity to think independently and discover their own solutions. Rather than doling out tasks without explanation, get employees involved in the process. Ask powerful and thought-provoking questions about the issue at hand and allow employees to brainstorm and create their own solutions. When they’re presented with the opportunity to go through the thought process and come up with a resolution, they are much more likely to be bought in to the work – it’s their solution after all!
2. Learn to Build the Relationship
When people feel connected to you, even the most difficult conversations seem less threatening. That’s why building relationships and trust with employees is a top priority, especially when taking on a coaching mentality. So, what are some things you can do to establish trust and build strong relationships with employees?
First, define clear expectations and objectives for each team member. Next, remember to use good judgment and be patient in all interactions with employees. And finally, follow through with any promises or agreements you make with your team.
As you do this, you will start to see team members come to you for guidance and assistance more often. This shows that they not only trust you as a leader, but value your opinion and expertise.
3. Learn to Listen and Provide Assessment
A key role that you’re going to play as a coach is helping team members to gain self-awareness and insight on where they are now and where they want to go. You want to be able to listen to what your employees have to say and provide timely and useful feedback and guidance on the matter.
Listening to your staff, really hearing what they have to say and then addressing any issues or concerns upfront demonstrate that you don’t see your employees as dollar signs, but instead as fellow human beings working toward a common goal.
Then, when you provide evaluation of their work and progress and give them guidance based on where they want to go and where they should be headed, you’ll be seen as a mentor to your team where you’re supporting and coaching them to succeed rather than simply managing their work. You’ll also be seen as an active participant and not as an observant supervisor.
4. Learn to Set Goals for Your Team
Being an effective coach is about you and your team driving for results and achieving goals. As the coach, it’s your job to help your employees set meaningful goals and identify specific steps and objectives for meeting those goals. Then set up a clear accountability structure that’s focused around the actions and the outcomes from the goals you have previously outlined. By doing this, you will help keep your team focused on working towards achieving the set goal.
Begin Acting More Like a Coach and Less Like A Manager
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re thinking maybe you’re being too much of a manager and not enough of a coach, try asking yourself these questions:
- Are you asking your team member thought provoking questions to help drive them to create their own solutions?
- Are you building a relationship and meeting with your employees to hear what they have to say, and then addressing their thoughts or concerns?
- Are you providing valuable and actionable feedback on where they are, where they want to go, and what’s expected of them to help them develop and grow?
- Have you sat down with your team to help them outline the goals they need to be striving toward and is there a clear accountability structure?
If you can’t answer yes to those questions and feel as if you’re in a situation where coaching will be more beneficial to your team members, then start making some changes. You might be surprise how the mood, energy, and productivity of your team increases once you begin making some of these minor changes.
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