Richard Ladyshewsky of Curtin University (Perth) reviewed this literature in an article in the Leadership and Organization Development Journal in 2010. He concluded “coaching in the workplace, between a manager and a subordinate, is part of an overall organizational development and performance management philosophy” and a core management skill. Here are some highlights I gleaned from his review:
- “No consensus on a definition of coaching” but it may be considered “a short-term developmental interaction focused on performance . . .”
- A major challenge is “finding the time to coach” and this becomes more challenging as the span of control (number of direct reports) increases.
- Managers “differ in their inclination to coach subordinates.”
- Managers differ in the communication skills needed to coach.
- Managers with more self-awareness, higher emotional intelligence are more likely to be successful in the manager as coach role.
- In a coaching culture, performance appraisal (e.g., with emphasis on accountability) takes a backseat to performance management (with emphasis on improved performance).
- “Coaching should be developmental and not corrective or remedial action.”
Ladyshewsky emphasized the importance of trust:
- Trust may be cognitive (rational) or affective (based on emotional bonds).
- It takes time for the subordinate to build a relationship of trust with a manager.
- Trust develops more rapidly where the manager and employee share common values and common interests.
- Well-adjusted people build trust faster.
- “When the stakes are very high, trust decreases to ensure security.”
- Managers who are not “competent in the eyes of their subordinates will not be able to build trust.”
- The organizational culture affects ability to build trust, as does the economic viability of the organization.
1. Ladyshewsky makes an excellent point that managers may simply be too busy to coach. If so, then the question must be asked, how important is it to your success as a manager, to the organization, that you grow your people? Time is about priorities and decisions. As a manager, I can recall struggling to carve out time to work with employees developmentally. Fortunately my boss and I talked, he listened, and we got enough adjustments to deadlines to find the time. I understand not everyone has an understanding boss. In my case I had credibility far enough up my chain-of-command to pull this off. Why? Because my employees were growing in their capabilities and it showed in results.
2. But what if manager as coach is not who you are? You may not be inclined in that direction. It may not be your personality. Can some skills be learned? Perhaps, but it is still not who you are. You may be a technical whiz-kid and respected by your subordinates but just have no talent for developing others. If the organization wants managers to be coaches, then this may suggest better attention to promotion-to-management processes. It may also suggest a look at talent acquisition.
3. My guess is that most managers know whether or not coaching is part of what they want to do, irrespective of finding time. If it is something you want to do, then you can probably develop coaching skills. And organizations should decide if this is a managerial expectation, and if so, support this objective with effective training (one-on-one or group).
Ladyshewsky, R. (2010). The manager as coach as a driver of organizational development. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 31(4), 292-306.
Untitled image. Obtained from https://pxhere.com/ro/photo/480543
Public domain. https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
© John Ballard, PhD, 2018. All rights reserved.
Author of Decoding the Workplace, BEST CAREER BOOK Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2016.
"Decoding the Workplace: 50 Keys to Understanding People in Organizations is as informed and informative a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. . . Decoding the Workplace should be considered critically important reading for anyone working in a corporate environment." —Midwest Book Review