Managers as Coaches through Internal Coach Training

The role of manager is a very difficult one. Not only does a manager have to make money and meet business objectives but in the modern business environment he/she is also expected to be a “peoples person”, able to motivate, solve personal problems and extract high performance out of all his/her staff. The reality is though that very few managers feel equipped to deal with the one on one personal side of their role.

The stress of doing performance reviews and personal development sessions is normally high and so is avoided. Even giving real time direct feedback about performance or behaviour seems hard to do. Very few courses can equip managers to this type of work well.

While EQ courses are vital in understanding how peoples emotions’ affect their work; managers need to be taught the practical skill of how to sit down and have an effective one on one. In the many organisations we consult for we have seen the benefit of giving these managers basic coaching skills. We are not trying to turn managers into life-coaches. The time and investment would be very high and while some forward thinking organisations are starting to realise the value of having certified coaches on their staff, we feel that giving all managers and supervisors basic coaching skills is enough and has great results.

Knowing when to change roles between managing, mentoring and coaching is important. The management role is based on achieving the outcome and enforcing policy and procedure, it is about getting things done as fast as possible, as cheaply as possible to the best quality standards. It is almost in total misalignment with making people feel valued, listening to their concerns and adapting their work and environment to their personal style and attributes. Mentoring is about developing your staff though your experience and content knowledge so they develop faster.

Coaching is about getting them to talk so you can empower them to find their own solutions. In most cases the management hat is the easier one to wear.” I’m the boss and I will tell what to do and you do it.” “Let’s talk so we can build a winning solution that works for both of us”, is much more complicated. So helping managers to see when to change roles from telling to asking is vital. When is a coaching style appropriate and when is it not? How do I set up and conduct a coaching session with my staff member? How do I address poor performance or inappropriate behaviour in a way that is not negative but ends up with a positive result?

Many of us have experienced the manager who is conducting a meeting or a one on one with us, who still has one eye on his inbox, the other on his cell, while he lounges behind his desk. One manager who attended our course went back with a new appreciation for listening and paying attention. The next day he invited a lady to his office to have a discussion. He shut his laptop, switched off his phone and turned to face her. She burst out crying because she felt that if he was being this nice it must mean that she was being fired.

People value being heard and having someone pay real attention to them, and it makes a very real difference in how they enjoy their work and their environment. We have conducted a lot of exit interviews with staff who are moving on. When we ask them why, their manager and the way he treats them is often a major reason for leaving. Our expectation for respect and validation in the work place has increased dramatically.

When managers feel more comfortable with being able to have these discussions they normally happen much more regularly. So based on these facts we feel there is a real case for this type of training. In two days a manager can learn the basic coaching skills. We give them a basic coaching model to help structure the conversation and we get them to practice so they get comfortable with them. If you plan on doing this type of training it should be very practical and experiential. If it is very theoretical it makes it seem even harder to implement. You want your managers walking out of the class thinking, “This is easy, I can do this.”