I have rarely met a manager that wasn’t swamped daily with meetings, emails, and fires to put out. If this is you, keeping your head above water is your primary objective day-to-day. Forget about being proactive, you can barely react to the unexpected, which occurs daily. This often requires early mornings, working through lunch, late evenings, and perhaps weekends just to tread water. Sound familiar?
You might expect me to suggest some time management training or to walk you through how to triage emails, say “no” more often, or provide some other “habit” that effective people do to get through the day. No, I’m not going to do that. What I suggest you do, that most managers do not do, but should, is spend more time coaching your team. I know…you don’t have time to coach, and it’s for that reason you need to.
In this blog, I will tell you:
- Why your team needs coaching
- Why YOU need to become their coach
- How to transition to a coaching culture
Why Your Team Needs Coaching
Most people don’t step into their roles at maximum capability. If they did, they would be bored and would have no room for growth. People get better over time, some excel at what they do, but everyone has room for growth.
There are two key reasons why you need to coach your team: 1) improve the team’s return on investment (ROI), and 2) reduce your own workload and stress.
Your team is a financial investment. The organization is paying a lot of money for those team members and it’s your job to increase the value that investment returns.
This is a point often overlooked. As a manager, you should be evaluated on the increase in ROI for your team. Not artificially through lower salaries and raises, or working more hours, because that will actually lover your ROI, but rather through improved team performance. Help them become more effective and efficient.
Reduce Your Workload
I understand, the nature of your business will yield some unpredictable situations that you and your team will need to react to, but many reactionary tasks can be eliminated by coaching your team.
The stronger your team, the more empowered they are, the more aligned they are to the business, the fewer emails you’ll receive, the fewer meetings you’ll feel the need to attend, and the fewer problems they will run to you with to solve. This, in turn, gives you more time to focus on ROI. When that’s the benefit of coaching, how can you afford not to spend time coaching?
Why YOU Need to Become Their Coach
Want to attract the best people to your organization, or your team within that organization? Become known to help your people grow through active coaching. When you attract the best people, your life as a manager gets much easier.
Motivated people will grow on their own, but more so when you actively coach them. Yes, people want to be trusted, autonomous, and empowered. In other words, they don’t want to be “managed,” but they do welcome coaching.
People gravitate toward leaders. Leaders are followed, managers are not. Become the leader everyone wants to work with because you grow people through coaching.
How to Transition to a Coaching Culture
How strong would your team be if coaching occurred at every level within the team, or across the organization? Imagine that future state where every team lead, supervisor, manager, director, and executive actively coaches their team(s). Easy to imagine, yet hard to achieve. How is that supposed to happen when you can barely keep up with the day-to-day activity? The short answer is, you can’t, at least not at first.
Ask for Help
The first step is to admit that you need help. I know, as a manager, it may feel like any such admission is failure, or makes you look unfit for the job. I disagree. Hiding the problem and continuing down the same repetitive path, killing yourself in the process, is incompetence. Asking for help, and using that help, to improve overall operations is genius.
Look, it’s not that you don’t know what to do, or even how. Although being in that situation is okay, too. We are all at varying places in our careers and trying to figure out this complex world of business together. Recognizing that you need a little help is mature and it’s smart.
A good management consultant, or few, can make a huge impact in helping you wrap your arms around what you have and help you find better ways to balance both tactical and strategic initiatives. As you gain more balance, you’re able to take on more and more team coaching as a matter of routine, and focus more on strategy and ROI.
Step By Step
It’s a journey. There isn’t a big bang implementation that gets you a coaching culture. You cannot march against a project plan. It starts with you, the manager, and systematically pushes that mindset and approach down into your teams at a pace that makes sense for your context.
What you learn and accomplish is what you want each of your direct reports to learn and accomplish, so that this success scales down into your team. Hopefully your peers and executives take notice of how much more effective and efficient your group is, and seeks to scale that success across the organization as well.
Eventually you won’t need as much support from external management consultants because all managers are adept at coaching, and make it a priority within the organization.
Many management roles feel like there’s enough work for two (or more) people to do it right. In some cases, that’s probably true. In other cases, a shift in mindset and approach is what’s needed to gain back some sanity, order, and a sense of clear strategic footing.
You probably know all this already, but simply do not have the time to do what needs to be done to change course. The question is, how long do you want to stay stuck in this catch-22?
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