6 Must Have Coaching Skills for the Successful Manager

Some managers may believe they are using an effective coaching approach when managing their team only to later realize that their employees are still asking the same questions and/or are not improving even after having provided them with feedback. A study conducted by Bersin & Associates showed that organizations with managers who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent as compared to those who never coach.

Many people, including those who are being coached, don’t understand what coaching involves so here are some key descriptors:

  • Coaches focus on the employee vs. the task – It’s about development.
  • Coaching is not about “fixing” someone – it’s about facilitating the learning process by understanding someone’s thinking.
  • Coaching is about Ask vs. Tell Approach – by asking open-ended and enlightening questions, it allows the employee to create their own solutions. They are much more engaged if it is their own idea.
  • Coaching is about setting clear accountability for actions and outcomes.
  • Coaching is something that can happen in-the-moment by capitalizing on those on-the-job learning experiences.
  • Coaching is Leading by Example – Modeling the right behaviours and being credible are key ingredients of successful coaching experiences.

So how can a Manager behave more like a Coach?

  • Ask questions to enable the coaching process. This helps you understand their point of view and encourages two-way dialogue. For example – “How do you feel the project is going?”
  • Ensure your questions are open-ended to allow the employee to think through their own problems without providing a yes or no answer.
  • Guide the conversation with the use of powerful questions Examples include:
  • “What does success look like?”
  • “What have you already tried?”
  • “How will this decision help you accomplish your goal?”
  • “What are some barriers you can think of to success? What are some of your ideas for overcoming those barriers?”
  • Avoid the trap of doing all the talking – spend more time on asking questions and listening. (You have two ears and one mouth; use them in proportion!)
  • Ensure your employee understands what is expected of them by asking clarifying questions.
  • Invest your time to support the employee by providing continuous feedback.

As you can see, the main premise in coaching is to Ask Questions to engage the employee in creative problem solving, versus telling them what to do. What questions will you ask your employees today?

Policy or no policy? What do you do about social media in your company?

Remember the video of a New York Taco Bell/KFC outlet uploaded to You Tube showing a group of rats running about the restaurant? How about the two Domino’s Pizza employees who thought it would be funny to post mucus being slathered on sandwiches in the back kitchen? Or a Honda Product Manager posing as a consumer and getting caught posting positive comments about Honda’s Crosstour vehicle? Social media is such a powerful means of communication. Everyone is connected. And it’s permanent! Everything posted on the internet, regardless whether it’s been “deleted” or not is on there, somewhere, forever.

Now that’s not to say all social media is harmful. When used well, it can provide tremendous value to a company with its advertising, marketing and recruiting efforts, as well as improve communications with its stakeholders and customers. Implementing a social media policy will not ensure that errors in judgment will never occur. But a well-written policy will help to ensure your company and all of your employees know what’s expected and what’s acceptable when it comes to company social media use.

Take for example Zappos.com. It is a popular online retailer of shoes, clothing and accessories. Zappos has successfully created real relationships with its fans and customers by being up front, consistent in its messaging and offering and always delivering a high level of customer service. The maker of the board game, Cranium, has incorporated game content into its communications to engage fans and customers, creating a positive two-way relationship. It’s important then for your company to approach social media like you would any other business element and implement a policy. A policy ensures your employees are all “on the same page” when it comes to corporate communications on any social media platform.

To begin the process, understand how your company will use social media. Set some objectives. Then structure the policy around those objectives. Educate your employees on its use and then consider access. Who can and can’t post messages and who is responsible for ensuring what’s been posted is appropriate. When designing a social media policy, ensure it:

  • Adheres to all other company policies
  • Maintains a safe, harassment free environment for your employees
  • Protects important company information
  • Ensures employees are accountable
  • Outlines the discipline for policy violations

A thorough, well thought out social media policy with help to ensure your company hits the headlines for all the right reasons and keep your customers coming back time and time again!

What does an Engaging Workplace look like? 10 Ideas for Work Leaders!

Have you ever wondered if your employees like coming to work? If you answered yes, how do you know? Think of the following situation: It is 5:00 pm, and most of the department is on the way out the door. However, one team is still there working hard and having fun at the same time. What can you, as a leader, do to create this kind of environment for your employees? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Don’t micro-manage. You don’t need to be breathing down your employees’ neck. Show them interest, encourage them to think differently and ask them how they made a decision to understand their thinking.
  2. Give back credit. Promote your team’s work. Make sure they get the credit for their accomplishments. Say thank you publicly.
  3. Minimize bureaucracy and promote simplicity. As long as your team is producing and working on the right things, don’t bother them with unnecessary steps or details.
  4. Be open to feedback and mean it. Ask a few trusted team members to be candid with you when you’ve done something thoughtless or insensitive.
  5. Know them personally. Learn about their families, their career goals and truly care about them. Ask them how they would like to be recognized. Show the employee that you care not only about work but about their life as well.
  6. Create meaningful work with purpose. The most important thing any leader can do is to link the work to the strategic imperatives of the company. That is the work your employees do is important to the success of your company. When an employee feels he or she is making a difference, it makes a big difference.
  7. Hire Top Performers and get rid of the bottom performer. It is well known that leaders typically spend more time managing their under-performing employees than focusing on their top performers. In hiring A players, the standards are raised, the energy is high and there is a low tolerance for mediocrity.
  8. Lead by example. Simple as it seems to be, we all have our blind spots and need to be aware of them. Acting with integrity is key.
  9. Encourage socialization at work. Something as simple as ordering pizza for lunch or having a popcorn break on Friday afternoons can help to build camaraderie during working hours and doesn’t intrude on employees’ personal time.
  10. Pay People for their Worth. Although it is last on the list, pay is still a great motivator (maybe a great equalizer versus motivator; this is a minimum requirement, but once it’s met, the other factors above come into play, like Maslow’s hierarchy). Your team may love what they do but if they feel underpaid, it may affect their long-term commitment.