Transform Managers into Coaches: Five Steps for Coaching Success: Get Back to the Basics, and Train Your Managers to Be Effective Coaches in the Workplace

By Noble, Mike | Talent Development, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Transform Managers into Coaches: Five Steps for Coaching Success: Get Back to the Basics, and Train Your Managers to Be Effective Coaches in the Workplace


Noble, Mike, Talent Development


"Knowledge is not enough to get desired results. You must have the more elusive ability to teach and to motivate. This defines a leader; if you can't teach and you can't motivate, you can't lead." --John Wooden, Sports Il-lustrated Coach of the 20th Century

If a manager wants to be a leader, he must develop the ability to coach others. The days of command-and-control leadership are long gone, replaced by coaching and collaboration as the most effective ways for managers to lead. If managers do not become adept at coaching their employees, it is unlikely that they will be able to achieve sustainable long-term positive results for themselves or their organizations.

Fundamentals of coaching

Coaching requires both skill and time. But before applying either of these, managers should understand what coaching is and why it is important.

In its simplest form, coaching is the act of helping others to perform better. Sometimes it is focused on helping to correct poor performance or improve existing skills. Other times it is targeted at developing entirely new skills. Whichever the purpose, effective manager coaching will accelerate the development of employees and lift organizations to higher levels of achievement.

Steps for coaching success

So why don't all managers coach? The answer most likely is due to one of three reasons: They don't understand the value of coaching, they don't possess the skills to coach others, or--even if they understand the importance and have the skills--they don't have the time. To overcome these barriers and transform your managers into coaches, heed the following recommendations.

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Build the personal case for coaching.

You can't force coaching responsibilities on managers who don't see coaching's relevance. While most managers have a strong sense of loyalty to their organization, this allegiance alone may not be enough to motivate them to develop their coaching skills. There is still an element of "What's in it for me?" that must be addressed. When you show evidence that the strongest leaders and most successful executives in their organization or discipline also are excellent coaches (this is almost always the reality), managers will be more inclined to seize the opportunity to learn how to become effective coaches, too.

Once managers understand that they can accomplish more and achieve stronger results through the collaborative efforts of others, they will want to learn how coaching, not command-and-control, will enable them to better use the talents of their employees. Whether they are trying to perform better for their employers or are seeking to promote their own careers, managers will embrace coaching as an effective means toward mutually beneficial results.

Establish firm expectations. Making it clear that coaching is a primary responsibility of each manager in your organization is an essential prerequisite to creating a coaching culture. If you don't establish firm expectations for coaching, you are unlikely to get the results you want.

Coaching should be a key facet of your workplace culture and part of every manager's job description. Giving managers the opportunity to develop coaching skills and allocating the time necessary for them to both learn and apply these skills should be incorporated into every organization's operating model. Furthermore, coaching should be a topic of discussion for every performance management evaluation and highlighted when managers are promoted or assigned to new roles.

Teach coaching skills, and put them into practice. Coaching does not necessarily come naturally to most managers. In fact, before they become managers, employees are generally rewarded for their individual skills and their ability to accomplish tasks on their own or in small teams. …

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