Wait! I’m A Manager, Not A Coach

Wait! I’m A Manager, Not A Coach

by Grant Tate

“Wait! I’m no coach; I’m a manager. What do you expect? Don’t you know coaching is a horrible time waster? I have enough to do already, trying to supervise twenty people. And I’ve been trying to implement your DEI policy over the last two years. Yet there’s another thing I have to do.”

Yes, our team leaders and middle managers are facing many challenges. Leaders are under pressure from the turbulent market and economic environments, advancing technology, hybrid work structures, shortages of key skills, and recruiting problems—to name a few. Some leaders adapt and change, while others may not make it.

We can’t keep piling on more work and change without helping team leaders and middle managers adapt. Here’s a start.

If you’re a leader, start with the questions:

  • How can I help each team member do their job more effectively?
  • How can I help my team work more effectively?
  • How can I help each person feel accomplished in their work?

If you embrace these questions and put them at the top of your responsibilities, then you’re a coach. But coaches need different skills than supervisors.

  • A coach is a good listener. Instead of giving instructions, they ask good questions, helping the team members express their concerns, define problems, and explore solutions.
  • A coach is a good observer. Watching a team member do their job, whether manual or knowledge work, can help generate helpful questions to ask.
  • A coach knows how to ask questions that help to define problems or issues and open new paths of thinking for the team member.
  • A coach encourages high standards and deliberate practice. The intentional practice cycle follows: Do a task, analyze results, make corrections, and repeat the task. This system works best when an outside observer analyzes the results and provides helpful positive feedback. The coach can fulfill that role.
  • The coach helps team members to set SMART goals. Setting short team goals, accomplishing them, and getting good feedback stimulates engagement and morale. A coach provides frequent and encouraging feedback.

Gallup suggests that the best leaders spend one-to-one time with each team member weekly. Combining this idea with “leading by walking around” and “leading by coaching” are tools that could transform your team.

Becoming a Leader/Coach might take some attitude adjustment, but it’s worth it. You’ll have more fun, and so will your team members.