More importantly, I think being a coach is part of the skill set of the best leaders and managers. Coaching develops your direct reports, your subordinates, your team, your part of the organization. An often overlooked responsibility of managers is “player” development. In a reactive environment where we are doing our best just to get the job done, being proactive to develop those who work for us can get lost. It takes time, energy, and willingness. It may also take skill development for the manager to learn how to coach. To coach well, one must observe, listen actively, and tailor the coaching to the individual’s receptivity and learning style.
David Antonioni, now Professor Emeritus from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business, wrote about management and coaching in 2000. He suggested that the coaching role usually gets “pushed aside.” He surveyed over 1000 mid-level managers on leading and coaching. Here are some of his findings and comments:
- “Coaching is a partnership between a manager and an individual who reports directly to him or her,” the purpose of which is to develop individual potential.
- Coaching can seem “like a foreign concept in the workplace” (p. 29).
- The manager as coach needs to be non-judgmental, not pointing out faults.
- Coaching requires giving constructive feedback.
- 70% of the managers surveyed said the hardest part of coaching is giving constructive feedback.
- 87% had trouble coaching employees who got defensive.
- 83% used performance management coaching, focusing on gaps between current performance and desired performance.
- Few managers used performance enhancement coaching, focusing on new skills and even higher skill levels.
- Coaching should be ongoing (not a few times a year) and should be brief, 5 – 15 minutes.
Coaching is an underdeveloped, underutilized, and underappreciated managerial skill. The leader grows and develops her people. Coaching needs to be part of management education and part of the skill set of leaders and managers.
Antonioni, D. (2000). Leading, managing, and coaching. Industrial Management, 37 , 27-33.
Image by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in the public domain.