Managers and directors must be good coaches. The very nature of managing a staff team requires those in charge to make individuals within the team more skilled, smarter, and happier due to career satisfaction. Unfortunately, some managers fail to handle teaching moments with grace and sensitivity, and leave their employees feeling like a failed performer, rather than a valuable member of the team.
The reality is that high performers often rise to positions of management, and these same individuals sometimes lack the soft skills necessary to be a good coach. In a sense, they need to be coached on how to be a good coach. Coaching is a difficult skill that requires a sense of compassion, awareness, critical thinking and creativity. Simply put, a good coach should build employees up, rather than breaking them down. Here are some approaches managers should keep in mind when coaching opportunities arise:
Every good discussion between management and staff should focus on a common goal that is desirable for both parties. Establishing a common desire and end goal helps align thinking and shifts the conversation in a way that is collaborative for the employee. This collaboration empowers employees to feel like partners in their own success, as well as the company’s.
Inviting Employee Feedback
By creating a collaborative environment, managers create opportunities for employees to share experiences and opinions the managers might not otherwise see. Often, employees feel forced to tell white lies out of fear of sounding like they have bad attitudes. When there are legitimate issues with business processes or approaches, employees are often afraid to point them out due to fear of appearing to make excuses. When this happens, management misses out on key learning moments that might be holding the company back. It’s incredibly important for employees to feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction with certain processes in place so that managers hear about blind spots they might not independently identify.
Specific Actions Instead of Vague Ideas
A good coach should always focus on specific actions employees can take to improve. Without clear directions, employees leave constructive feedback meetings with anxiety and agitation, rather than clarity and purpose. The more specific a manager can be, the more likely the employee will change behavior and feel confident in her/his actions.
A Pathway to Success, Rather Than Repercussions for Failure
When employees receive criticism, their big-picture concerns come to mind very quickly. They worry about job security, finances and the stability of their homes. Managers need to diffuse this sentiment by explaining how constructive feedback sets employees up for long term success. Instead of being concernedabout job security, employees should have confidence that their job security will be enhanced by coaching sessions. They should feel they can bring more value to the company and become a better, more important employee as a result.
Measurable, Small and Meaningful Goals Set by Coaches
Once employees feel comfortable and have specific actions they can take to improve, there should be a plan of action for them to gradually improve. Giving employees small, modest goals makes those improvements achievable and gives them something realistic to work toward. Coaches should explain how these small improvements are valuable, and follow up with praise when employees show concrete improvement.
When working with employees, managers should always give staff members the benefit of the doubt. People almost unanimously show up to work with the intention of performing well, and managers need to maintain this mindset, rather than doubting their team members. Business is highly personal, and points of constructive criticism are most effective when framed in the context of helping, rather than hurting, employees. Managers who do this well see low turnover, high performance and company culture that is built on a solid foundation of trust.