It’s strange that so many managers still think that they need to have all the answers to the problems facing their teams or departments. They then insist on telling their people what to do, especially if there’s a crisis or a tight deadline to hit. After all, these managers were probably once the experts, the ones who had all the experience, and therefore – at least in their minds – ought to know what’s best.
What’s wrong with this approach?
1. It’s exhausting for the manager, doing the problem solving all by him/herself.
2. It’s really hard work trying to get a (at least partly) disengaged workforce to listen and follow up on the commands.
3. Anyone working for this manager will feel that they are undervalued, wasting their creative energy, and not being listened to.
4. Although that knowledge and experience do have some value, a dependence on the manager develops into being spoon fed information for the next task.
5. And of course, PRODUCTIVITY DROPS.
What else can you do to get results?
The answer is to have a different type of conversation, a conversation where telling is replaced by coaching.
Managers who use their coaching skills find that their people are actually more productive and more engaged in their work. They witness their team’s capacity to think for themselves, to take on greater responsibilities and to develop and make a bigger contribution to their organisations. These managers also notice a growing confidence in their teams’ abilities and their potential to grow.
In their roles as “manager-as-coach”, they listen, probe, challenge and inspire, and through the attention they pay and the questions they ask, they provide fuel for their people to be creative, improve their problem solving and their commitment to taking positive action.
Don’t just take my word for it. Performance Consultants International quoted a 2017 study which concluded that successful organisations want to extend the scope of leaders using coaching skills. When asked to describe the most effective management style, respondents most commonly cited “collaborative” and “coaching”.
Adam Rogers, CTO of Ultimate Software, discussed the need for managers to develop their soft skills. You can read his article on page 52 of the February 2018 edition of HRD magazine.
I realise that you are probably already very busy and don’t have time for longer 1:1 meetings? I have to be honest with you, that it needs your investment, but I guarantee that you will get a good return.
• Your delegation will improve as you develop within others a better awareness, ownership, creativity and responsibility.
• You will get more done and be less stressed, and free your mental bandwidth for more strategic thinking and leadership action.
How to do it
The foundation is a shared understanding and clarity of your respective roles and expectations of each other. As a manager, you need to set the required standard of performance, the objectives and how they are measured, the KPI’s, etc. You also need to be clear about your role as coach, that you will both challenge your staff to achieve higher levels of performance and support them as they tackle obstacles and learn from feedback.
The next thing is a model or process steps to guide the coaching conversations. This is about structure and it’s where GROW comes into effect. And remember this is a collaborative dialog.
a. Goal: being clear about what specifically needs to be done and by when, why it is important, and how you would know it is complete.
b. Reality: knowing the current status, potential risks, the gaps between now and the ideal future, and the environment in which you are working.
c. Options: creating ideas on what could be done and gaining awareness of possibilities and new approaches.
d. Way forward: Being clear about action and commitment to what will be done and ways of being accountable with agreed follow up.
Once you see some benefits of using the GROW structure, you may want to invest in some more soft skills, such as rapport, deeper listening, better questioning, giving feedback and holding difficult conversations.
Find out more, please contact me via my website, or via LinkedIn.
Don’t let stress get the better of you by assuming that you, the manager, must have all the answers.
If you are really serious about your organizational culture, then this book will provide plenty of practical tips and guidance.