Own your position as a manager-coach
Most managers tend to focus more on operational matters than on the development of their staff. Beyond a scheduling issue, it is more a matter of personal stance. How can you be an effective manager-coach?
Studies regularly confirm it: the relationship with their direct-line manager constitutes the main factor behind employees’ sense of commitment to their work. In particular, they need to feel supported when carrying out their assignments. Yet, under time and performance pressures, most managers focus on the operational side of their role. They ensure everyone has a good understanding of his/her objectives and of their importance. Many are ready to support their staff members when confronted with an obstacle. Concerned with being effective, their response is then to get to the heart of the matter, bringing forward a solution that will enable progress. By doing so, they provide timely assistance that is welcome, but they also miss the opportunity to act as true talent developers.
To develop the autonomy of staff—and therefore, their performance and commitment—, providing solutions on a case-by-case basis is not sufficient. The most powerful approach is inspired by coaching. It aims not only to identify a solution to the problem at hand, but also at developing the capacity of the person to conceive of his/her own solutions when variations of the same issue surface in the future. It relies on an approach that consists in guiding the other person’s reasoning. What are the right questions he/she should be asking him/herself? What similar situations has he/she previously encountered? How did he/she address them? What other options did he/she envisage? What courses of action is this opening up? Is it possible to test the latter to identify the best solution before generalizing it? Etc. There are two benefits to this approach. It enables the emergence of solutions that rely on the knowledge and the capabilities of the employee—often more relevant than those conceived by the manager alone. Furthermore, it encourages the person to take ownership to find the solution, while benefiting from the experience his/her manager can bring to this reasoning. It thus progressively develops the employees’ autonomy and their ability to face more complex situations—which feeds into both motivation and performance.
How can you develop manager-coach responses in situations that often prompt for immediate solutions?
In this synopsis:
- When should you adopt a manager-coach attitude?
- Manager-coaches’ best practices
- Escaping recurring problems
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