The importance of a manager’s coaching skills is just as significant as their managing skills. Employee surveys show that coaching ranks highly on the list of expectations from employees and this is no surprise when research by Zenger/Folkman found that coaching ‘raises employee commitment and engagement, productivity, retention rates, customer loyalty, and subordinates’ perception of the strength of upper-level leadership’. This extensive research of half a million workers worldwide, evaluating 50,000 managers discovered a distinctive correlation between manager’s effective coaching skills and employee commitment and engagement, see chart below…
Coaching does not develop as a natural skill and is not something that can be acquired simply through learning. There are key characteristics that leaders require to enable them to coach as effectively as possible. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman discussed this in an article for Harvard Business Review…
Providing selective direction:
The best manager andcoach needs to be able to take a step back from exerting their influence. Instead, a collaborative approach which draws out the views and ideas of employees, making the most of their talent and experience rather than spoon-feeding, is important.
Inspire employees to discovery:
It is no secret that managers need to be good at problem solving and handling issues with efficiency, and this can lead to a routine of managers always providing the answer or even solving their team’s problems for them. However, an effective coach needs to be able to not only offer advice, but inspire and encourage employees to discover the best solution from within themselves. It is an important skill for coaching managers to deliver the required level of encouragement based on the situation and employee.
Finding the balance between acting as an expert and an equal:
Managers may possess much higher understanding of technologies or processes and therefore, when coaching others through this, it can become easy to take a higher standing and treat those being coached as “a novice, or even a child”. The correct balance between exerting expertise and behaving as a ‘complete equal’ needs to be executed. Additionally, it is important to remember that new employees may even be more confident and have more knowledge of new technologies than their leaders!
The road to succeeding in acquiring these attributes and coaching effectively may take you out of your comfort zone as you are so accustomed to taking a managing approach rather than a coaching approach. With diligence, aspiration and confidence in your ability to become an effective coach, leaders can learn the art of collaborative direction, inspiring others to discover solutions and coaching with respect.
Do you have any experiences of successful coaching? What characteristics do you believe an effective coach requires?