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Managers: Coach and Build Commitment

Posted Dec 10 2012 5:50am

Did you know that the majority of employees today expect their managers to coach them? At the same time, managers are concerned that they won't have all the answers.

That's understandable, given the human condition's need for a sense of control and, in a manager's case, the appearance of expertise. This very issue came up while teaching one of my online classes at Rutgers University last week. If you think this is a "Western" thing, all of the participants were experienced managers in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. The concerns were probably being voiced at the same time by managers somewhere in Texas, Frankfurt, or Sao Paolo. 

                                        Coaching Commitment

The good news: Employees don't want advice. They want to be stretched and asked questions that allow them to sort things out and learn as a result.

Here's What It Takes

A productive manager-employee coaching relationship includes these elements:

  • Self-Direction. The employee initiates areas for learning and relies on the manager for support when necessary.

  • Self-Responsibility. The coaching manager encourages employees to make decisions through reflective questions.

  • Focus on Learning. Employee develops new skills with the support of the coaching manager, then sets new goals and standards.

Three To-Dos for Managers Who Coach

1. Set clear expectations for results and let your people find their own best way to get the job done. (You hired them for their unique attributes).

2. Give people as much responsibility as they can handle, then support them. People grow from being stretched.

3. Develop the habit of asking "How can we. . ." instead of "Why did you. . ?"  Think about the distinction.


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