Managing and coaching is different

Think of the best coach you ever had, either at work or outside of work. What did the coach do that was effective? How did the coach interact with you? What kinds of things did the coach help you to achieve? Now think of the best manager you ever had at work? What did he or she help you to achieve? How did this manager interact with you and treat you? What differences did you notice between your best coach and manager?

Have you ever had a manager who would be a good coach at the same time?

The Best Manager should always be a good coach. Coaching in many ways involves enabling the human side of working. Good coaching helps people to develop. This involves asking lots of questions and collaborating. It is important to build strong interpersonal relationships with employees, and this is what good coaches do. They also provide feedback on behaviors always with positive intent.

Coaching helps to unlock a person’s potential to maximize their own performance and help them to learn vs. teaching them. With good coaching, development can be observed through an individual’s performance, department performance, and overall company success. Many managers think that coaching is someone else’s job! Coaching, however, can be helpful to develop people’s skills and performance. Coaching can be used effectively to delegate, problem solve, enhance job satisfaction, and provide feedback.

There are many types of coaching

Coaching can occur to enhance performance. For example, after a project a good coach will ask many questions to assist with learning. A good coach might ask, what were you trying to accomplish? What were the actual results of what the project achieved? What caused the gap between what you wanted to achieve and results you achieved? Coaching can assist in understanding the gap between the expected result and the current outcome. A good coach can help a person think through what should be done next time to improve performance.

Coaching for development is a second form of coaching. In this mode, coaches ask questions like, how I can help, what you don’t understand, and what you need to solve this. Good coaches use the art of questions to help their employees to learn. Finally, coaching for career development can be very helpful and important. Sitting down with an employee a coach can ask, “What do you want to do more or less of in your job? What best aligns to your abilities and interests? Which activities are best to match your high challenges and high skills?” Good coaches try to find out what their employees are passionate about and which new roles might interest them. As a result, together coaches and employees can work together to plan the next steps and enable the employee to contribute in new areas of interest.

Coaching in real time

The best coaching occurs daily in real time. Everyday interactions can provide rich coaching opportunities. It is important during these times to transform these daily interactions into coaching moments. This can be done using both formal and informal feedback. The Best coach uses questions to guide and direct learning and behavior. The Best coach looks for positive behavior to coach on. For example, let’s say, an employee has just completed a really good presentation. After the meeting the Best coach might ask the employee, what you did to prepare that made for an interesting presentation. This is much better than simply saying, "good job", which doesn’t mean anything. Asking questions helps people to think through what they did to achieve their results.

It is also best to pick the right coaching moments. For example, let’s say, next time the same employee gives a poor presentation. Most of us know when we are not at our best. Right after the meeting it would not be the best time to offer coaching. It is always better to schedule coaching time just before the next time a person is about to give the same presentation. Then the person receives coaching just in time and when they need it most. After poor performances people are less receptive to feedback and coaching.

Finally, make coaching private. There is no benefit in coaching in public, the more it can damage working relationships. Also it has been my experience that people listen better and are more receptive to feedback in private.

We can learn from other great coaches

John Wooden was one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. He also focused on building positive interpersonal relationships and said he always felt responsible for his players and their development. This is an important factor in coaching. Too many times managers are quick to give evaluation and not positive feedback. Evaluation only serves to reinforce the manager-subordinate relationship, which is already understood. Feedback, however, given in the right place and time serves to help people understand that feedback is information and not a value judgment about the person. Remember that when giving feedback it should be consistent and positive. Also, using questions is a great method for seeking understanding. The Best coach always tries to link feedback to behavior and business results.

The Best Coaches

The Best coaches are caring and focused. They are good listeners and communicators. The Best coaches look for coaching moments and use both informal and formal feedback. Most important the Best coaches share the responsibility for behavior change. The Best coaches have collaborative relationships with the people whom they work with and as a result everyone benefits! Managing and coaching are both required and if used in the right time and place create Best results for both individuals and the organization!

Learning summary and next steps

Managing and coaching work in alignment. Make a list of 5 examples of each. Daily be aware of the differences and ensure you are using both in your daily activities as a leader of others.

Craig Nathanson

Author's Bio: 

Craig Nathanson is the founder of The Best Manager , workshops and products aimed at bringing out the best in those who manage and lead others.

Craig is a 25 year management veteran, Executive coach, college professor, author, and workshop leader. Also, Craig Nathanson is The Vocational Coach helping people and organizations thrive in their work and life.