By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

One of the most pertinent and powerful conversations managers have with their teammates is about their growth and success – not the company’s growth. Not KPI’s. Not targets. But individual goals.

Irrespective of age, all employees have certain goals. When managers identify and tap into those goals, find ways to enable them to reach their goals, and connect with them, employees become more willing to put in the discretionary effort. Better employee outcomes and higher productivity then become natural consequences of the effort.

Let’s take a look at some basic tenets on how managers can effectively coach their teams.

Personalize it

Personalization has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that without it nothing works; coaching included. 

With retailers offering personalized experiences even for online shopping, can employees be motivated by a sub-par experience when it comes to something as important as coaching?

To build successful teams and to become good coaches, managers have to personalize the coaching program to make it relevant and contextual for their team members. A novice/ new employee will have different coaching needs than an expert. Managers need to understand where to drive coaching with instruction, where they need to provide constructive correction, and where they need to guide with feedback.

Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all process. Since each member brings something unique to the team, it is essential for managers to have a genuine understanding of each of the team members. To establish a good coaching relationship, managers should ask guiding questions relevant to the employee and provide them coaching in areas that need help.

It’s a two-way street

In coaching, the conversation has to flow both ways. For example, if a manager is donning on the coaching hat, his/her job is not just to disseminate information endlessly. To be a good coach, a manager has to develop the skill to listen and identify the obvious, latent or dormant needs and cries for help, even when they lie unspoken.

Managers have to work on developing their capacity as good listeners without judgment and capably hold space for their employees. Coaching is not just about providing criticism and praise. It is also about being a good sounding board that gives balanced aempldvice and guidance.

Read: The 3 Most In-Demand Power Skills for Managers Today

Stay open to feedback

Coaching needs both encouragement as well as empowerment. Managers have to make sure that they build relationships with employees that lead to better performance. 

Employees are likely to have queries, doubts, inputs, and feedback. They need to know that their manager is listening to them without judgment. They have to know that their managers care for their feedback, opinions, and fears, and will not dismiss or hold employee feelings against them. Feedback also has to be clear, quantitative, and action-oriented.

Creating a safe space for employees is essential for coaching to deliver the intended results. People cannot feel safe sharing views and opinions if they feel that the information can be used against them, or they shall be judged on the same. Approaching things from the employee’s perspective, providing clear and action-oriented feedback, developing the maturity to accept feedback, and not taking things personally are key skills to develop for managers.  

Good coaching starts with developing emotional intelligence. This is because coaching isn’t only about the employee. It is also about how the managers interact with team members, how they understand problems, how they level with people, how sensitively do they deal with opposing outlooks, and how well they identify the explicit and the implied growth needs of their team members. 

Building emotional intelligence in managers helps them empathize with others’ views while having clarity of thought on their own views. Hence, it provides the basis that they need to work closely with their teams to bring about transformational change.

The importance of analysis

Gone are the days when feelings trumped facts

Today, with the growing reliance on data, coaching also has to be driven by data analysis. Be it is hardcore engineering skills or soft skills such as collaboration, learning agility, communication, adaptability, and such, coaching has to be driven by rich analytics.

Analytics provides the engagement insights to drive coaching for successful outcomes irrespective of skill development, performance, employee engagement, or more. Analytics, driven by technologies such as AI and Machine Learning, play a big role in improving learning interactions by providing personalized and contextual nurture actions that include notifications, reminders, alerts, kudos, and more.            

Empowerment and enablement  

One of the most important roles of a manager is to help organizations identify high-potential employees and help these employees to maximize their potential. 

Managers need to know where the employees want to go and also have to be acutely aware of the areas they need to grow.

Often people themselves are unaware of their talents and skills. People also often underplay or overplay their skillsets. Human nature is a complex web to understand. Managers need the right tools to first identify where their team members need help and then help them bridge the gap. 

Leveraging tests such as 16 Personality Factor evaluations, for example, can help a manager identify who is the high-potential employee capable of filling the enterprise pipeline and which one is the brilliant jerk who needs to amplify their soft skills to become a good leader.

Read: What Can Organizations Do to Develop an Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset Amongst Employees? 

The manager is not just the leader of the team. The manager is also the coach. 

Just like a coach helps professional athletes achieve their goals, a manager can also coach his/her team member to  succeed, and as a ripple effect, help the organization grow. 

But coaching cannot be confused with directing. Most managers might ‘feel’ that they are coaching their team when in fact, they are just telling their team members what to do. Coaching is central to improving team performance. The key to successful coaching rests not with telling people what to do but helping them achieve a higher level of action and awareness, by taking carefully calculated steps that matter.

Know more about NumlyEngage Innovation & Engineering Coaching Program

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Worldwide, organizations are investing heavily in employee training and leadership development programs. But research points out a disconcerting fact. 

According to studies, while 99% of organizations offer management training programs, 87% of first-time managers from those organizations felt that they needed more training to prepare for their job role. Given that new managers are making a leap from being individual contributors to leading a team, this can be quite a challenging transition to make.

Most organizations promote their high-performing individuals to managerial roles. But even the most talented and star employee can face hurdles and stumble as he/she settles into this new identity. 

Quite obviously, organizations need to give more than a pay hike, an induction meet, a day-long training program, and a ‘good luck’ handshake to make sure that these managers can lead high-performing teams.

Here are a few things to focus on to coach managers for success.

Develop people management skills

One of the biggest changes that a first-time manager has to internalize is transitioning from working in a group to being responsible for creating the right work environment. The focus thus automatically shifts towards developing their people skills.

New managers have to be coached on recognizing the needs of their team members, developing empathy to understand team challenges, and improving their problem-solving, critical, and strategic thinking skills.

We have often heard that “People don’t leave organizations. They leave managers”. Since managers have a significant impact on team performance, employee morale, and employee engagement, organizations have to identify the people management skills their new managers lack and coach them on the same. This can help them create better nurture and enable relationships with their team members.

Develop the Emotional Intelligence

While intelligence and technical skills might be important to take on the role of the manager, developing Emotional Intelligence is what is going to help managers succeed in their roles. 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to realize, comprehend, and manage individual emotions and recognize and influence the emotions of those around you as well. It is what sets apart a good leader from a great one.

Research shows that EQ is the strongest predictor of performance. It is also the trait that most effective leaders have. Emotional Intelligence comprises of four core competencies:

Self-awareness – The ability to understand personal strengths and weaknesses. Working with colleagues who are not self-aware can cut a team’s chance of success to half.  

Self-management – The capability to manage and regulate emotions especially in stressful situations and retain a positive attitude despite setbacks.

Social awareness – The capability to assess and understand other’s emotions and the dynamics at play. It involves developing empathy to understand the feelings and challenges of colleagues to communicate and collaborate more effectively with them.

Relationship management – The ability to coach, influence, and mentor others, provide positive reinforcement, and effectively resolve conflict. Unresolved conflict can waste almost eight hours of company time in unproductive activities such as gossip, which can drain resource morale and lead to low team performance.

Coaching new managers to develop their Emotional Intelligence helps in promoting healthy team collaboration. It also generates better employee engagement and leads to happier and more productive teams.

Guidance for managing age and gender dynamics  

For the first time, there are five generations at work together. These generations have their own dynamics at play. A majority of the workforce is also made up of the millennials, a generation defined by their focus on ‘value’ and ‘purpose’. Then there are the baby boomers, a task-based generation that has different motivations working for them. Gen X and then Gen Z are two other generations who are poles apart in their approach, drive, and motivations for work.

New managers have to be coached to learn effective strategies to connect with each of these generations. They need coaching on how to generate awareness, resolve conflict, build relationships, and communicate with them effectively.

Managers also have to be coached heavily to manage gender dynamics within their teams. Coaching helps them understand how to identify issues, address challenges, communicate, and chart career paths, be sensitive to diversity and inclusion initiatives

This often demands a rewiring and reprogramming of old beliefs, which can only be achieved by developing understanding and deep empathy towards others different from us.

Coach for Collaboration

Learning how to foster collaboration is one of the hardest transitions for a new manager. Helping managers to navigate this transition demands coaching them on their communication skills and their ability to motivate their team members and leverage positive reinforcement. It also guides managers to help their team realize their ‘shared purpose’, keep them motivated even in challenging situations, and become a propellant for better performance.

The focus on developing collaboration skills and inspiring collaboration for new managers is also essential since the world of work is now collaborative. We no longer exist and succeed in silos. And to inspire collaboration, managers must lead by example.

A cursory glance at these ‘must-have’ skills reveals that these are ‘power skills’ – skills that are highly complex because of their behavioral nature. But these are essential for individual and organizational success. Organizing a day-long training session for new managers to absorb and internalize these skills is an ineffective strategy since it does not bring about behavioral change. These skills need constant reinforcement and, hence, lend themselves well to coaching. 

By providing a robust coaching and mentoring platform to their new managers, organizations give them access to a ready knowledge base. Coaches can guide new managers and hand-hold them as they transition into their new roles. The coaches also act as information repositories, something new managers can access anytime they face managing issues to drive transformational value. 

Organizations can also enable continuous learning for their new managers by providing timely nudges on aspects they need to improve and then connecting them to the right coach to get them the guidance they need. Doing this ensures that these skills become second nature to the new managers, and they lead their teams, themselves, and, consequently, the organization to success.

Ready to drive employee engagement through internal coaching? Get a demo of NumlyEngage™, the world’s leading, AI-enabled, Skills Coaching and Employee Engagement Platform.

 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

One of the London Business School case studies, co-written by Herminia Ibarra, mentions that when Satya Nadella took over as the CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he noticed that the company had lost its momentum. Microsoft doubled its profits, and the revenue grew steadily too, but there was growing dissent in the workplace.

The technology was rapidly moving from personal computing to cloud and smartphones, but the culture had turned risk-averse, and senior leadership was not encouraging innovation. Many of them had not even updated their knowledge or skills for a long time. Innovation had taken a hit. 

That’s when Satya Nadella brought a transformation in the organizational culture. He stressed on having a growth mindset in the organization and directed his leaders to shift from the ‘know-it-all’ to the ‘learn-it-all’ culture. He encouraged his employees to fail and learn from the mistakes, which cultivated a learning environment throughout the organization.

The change in mindset enabled Microsoft to become an innovative organization. It was no longer averse to risks.

Microsoft’s revival is a classic case study on why managers have to develop a coaching mindset to promote organizational growth. 

According to a Gallup survey, employees prefer to work with managers who have a coaching mindset.

A lack of coaching culture leads to dissatisfaction among employees and could even result in a high rate of attrition. Employees could easily get distracted due to lack of guidance, and that could affect productivity severely. Distraction can also result in a poor quality of work. 

The only way to stop these challenges is by becoming a coach to your team. Coaching motivates employees. According to McKinsey, 32% of employees feel committed to their jobs when they feel motivated. It also increases sales by 19% and improves profits by 29%. 

However, one cannot become a coach overnight. Gallup’s survey reveals that only two out of ten managers are capable of knowing how to engage employees and develop their strengths.

You will have to follow a few coaching strategies consciously to drive your team to success.

How to Drive Team Success with Coaching?

If you want to be a successful coach to your team, you must take a leaf out of the late Bill Campbell’s teachings, the famous trillion-dollar coach of tech stalwarts like Google’s Eric Schmidt and Apple’s Steve Job. 

Let’s look at a few coaching strategies managers can adopt to make their team successful.

  1. Listen to the team members: My manager does not listen to me,” is a common grouse that employees have. Bill Campbell was known for his listening skills. It is what differentiates a good manager from an average one. To practice active listening, make direct eye contact with your employees. Ask them questions to understand their motivations, ideas, and the challenges they face. Keep your phone and laptop away while speaking to your employees and use a combination of verbal and non-verbal signals to indicate active listening. Your team members feel valued when you listen to them. So, practice it often.

 

  1. Show trust in the team members: Bill Campbell called trust his superpower. Trusting your employees will encourage them to adopt a more proactive approach to their work. An organization thrives only when you trust your employees. Delegate the responsibilities to your team members and trust them to complete it. Avoid micromanaging them. Keep an open-door policy and be non-judgmental. Let your team members know that you are there to support them so they can work on their tasks without any fear.

 

  1. Encourage the team members to explore and innovate: Just like a sports coach helps the players to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, you too must closely monitor your team members and find out their strengths. You must encourage them to push their limits and hone their strengths so they can add value to their tasks. Show your confidence in them, so they are motivated to explore their potential and develop more skills. The more you encourage your team members to step out of their comfort zone, the more innovative your team becomes. 

 

  1. Give continuous feedback: Many organizations are designed to give feedback to employees on an annual basis. However, if you want your team to be successful, you must think like a coach and provide continuous feedback. Conduct regular one-to-one feedback meetings with your team members. Offer constructive feedback and remember to appreciate your employees wherever due. You must also be willing to listen to the feedback your employees have about you. This will help in establishing trust and begin an ongoing communication between the team members and you.

 

  1. Manage internal disputes: A good coach always keeps his team united, even in the times of intense competition. Internal conflicts are common in every team. It can stop the team from progressing ahead. Ensure that there is transparency in your team. Do not tolerate bullying or harassment from your team members. It takes some time for minor misunderstandings to go out of control and become a full-fledged dispute. So, look for red flags and find ways to solve them before it blows out of proportion. 

Conclusion 

Shifting from a managerial to a coaching mindset can be quite a challenge. You will have to take a backseat and let employees learn at their pace with some guidance from you. However, this could become a challenge when you work in a fast-paced environment. You may feel compelled to ask your employees to adhere to the process rather than experiment and explore new avenues. However, you will have to find ways to balance both to create an environment of constant learning and innovation. Eventually, the company that constantly innovates is the one that thrives for a longer time. And innovation can be fostered only when you coach your employees to discover their path to success. 

With NumlyEngage™, companies can foster the culture of coaching and innovation, and deliver greater employee engagement. 

Want to know how? Let’s connect

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