26 Sep 2012

Managers Should Coach to Unlock Potential

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With time at a premium these days, when a member of your team asks “What do I need to do about…?” question or “How do I do…?” it is often easier to provide a ready solution.  How often have you heard yourself saying in response “What you need to do is….”? Probably regularly but is that just because it is easier for you?

There will always be occasions where you need to tell or give an instruction because the other person really doesn’t know the answer. However, very often by asking the question “What do you think you need to do?”, you will not only get your team members to think for themselves but also build on what they do know as well as help them think their problems through. In other words, you are coaching them rather than telling them.

It is a subtle difference in approach and some may argue that they are sidestepping their role as problem solver/superman (in the guise of manager). However, it will encourage every team member to think independently rather than expect you to do their thinking for them.  Of course, there will be times when they do not have the knowledge or skills to reach a decision but that is the point when you can step in and offer more detailed guidance or training.

It is tough at times to avoid giving an instruction. After all, your experience and expertise will mean that you have an immediate solution in mind. Also, we all enjoy solving problems!  And it will often justify and reinforce our position as a manager in our own minds – not to mention others!

Remember – being managers does not mean that we have the monopoly on good ideas. Indeed, through effective coaching, better solutions will be generated from the members of your team who are actually doing the job because they are more involved with it than you.

It may seem quicker to give a solution but, in reality, it will waste more of your time because people will keep coming back to you to ask questions because they are not learning anything. You have done all the thinking, they are just carrying out your instructions and you are not taking any actions to alter the status quo.

Most importantly, effective coaching will make you a better manager because you are delegating, developing, supporting and motivating your team – all of which are the qualities of a true leader.

Give it a try!  You’ll enjoy the results.

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Director MCM

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