Read an Excerpt
A Briefcase Book
By Marshall J. Cook, Laura Poole
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2011The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Goals of Good Coaching
Morale in the desktop publishing group is low. Some of the employees seem to work furiously every day, but Molly seems to have time to kill. No deadlines have been missed, but the hard-working group seems resentful of the slacker, and she distracts others when she wanders around the office chatting or sits at her computer playing solitaire. You have been getting complaints about Molly, and it's your responsibility to address this issue. What's your first move?
We'll return to this situation after you learn about the goals of good coaching and how management with coaching will help you get the information you need to work toward a solution.
Why Should a Manager Be a Coach?
Coaching is a relatively new field of development (see Chapter 2 for definitions and distinctions of what coaching is). It's quickly growing in popularity, both as a stand-alone profession and as a tool set for business leaders. Coaching in the workplace can create a positive environment in which employees are empowered, engaged, and valued. In teams, coaching can foster better communication, synergistic thinking, and productivity. For individuals, good coaching can lead to career development, increased resourcefulness, personal empowerment, sustainable change and improvement, and bigger thinking.
Managers and supervisors are often expected to be role models, mentors, leaders, and now coaches. Adding coaching to your skill set not only improves your value in the workplace, it creates new opportunities for your employees and the organization as a whole.
Are You Tapping Your Most Valuable Resource?
Employees offer an enormous source of only partially tapped potential. Each person in a workplace has a specific job, but people are rarely limited to a narrow category. There is much that each employee can offer, in terms of his or her own job performance, creative ideas, skills, and strengths to put to use for the organization, and personal growth and learning. Are you tapping this valuable resource? Connecting with your employees through coaching can open up far more possibilities than you might imagine!
Research by Gallup (Harter, Schmidt, Killham, and Agrawal, Q12 Meta-Analysis, August 2009) studying the link between employee engagement and performance indicated that highly engaged business/work teams basically doubled their odds of success! Employee engagement is a strategic foundation, not just lip service from human resources. Gallup has shown that engaged workers are more productive, profitable, loyal, and customer focused. In addition, their research discovered that consistently, an employee's immediate manager had the most profound impact on his or her retention and satisfaction.
Your Accessibility quotient is your openness to input from your staff. (It also gives some insight into how engaged employees are.) How would your workers respond to the following statements? Answer "yes" or "no" as you think they would really respond, not as you'd like them to.
1. asks for my opinion frequently.
2. listens to my suggestions.
3. takes my ideas seriously.
4. values my opinion.
5. checks with me before making a decision that affects my work.
6. would defend me in a meeting of supervisors.
7. explains goals clearly when giving me a new project.
8. welcomes my questions about an ongoing project.
9. gives me latitude in deciding how to carry out a project.
10. saves criticism for one-on-one sessions.
Your Responses and Your Management Style
Did you rack up seven or more positive responses in the Accessibility quiz? If so, you already exhibit many of the attributes of a good coach. One of the main goals of management by coaching is to create an atmosphere in which employees are willing and able to share their ideas with a superior. When employees feel heard and valued, they are more invested in their work and the organization.
Getting fewer than seven positive responses doesn't mean you're a failure. A low score means you have some work to do. (A lower score may also indicate that you're more honest and self-critical than most managers.)
Let's look at each statement and what it indicates about your working relationship with your employees.
1. My boss asks for my opinion frequently. The people who work with you already know you don't have all the answers. When you ask for an employee's input, three good things happen, before you even get a response: (1) you show respect for the employee, (2) you show that you don't think you have a corner on wisdom, and (3) you open yourself to an opportunity to get valuable information. "How do you think we should handle it?" can be one of the best things you ever ask an employee.
2. My boss listens to my suggestions. Asking is only half the process. Listening is the other half (see Chapter 6 for more on listening skills). Give employees your full attention. Indicate by word and gesture that you're taking in what they say. Ask questions. Respond honestly.
3. My boss takes my ideas seriously. You say, "Uh huh. That's ... interesting." The employee hears, "Thanks for nothing. Now we'll do it my way." You won't necessarily agree with employees' perspectives, and you may not act on their suggestions. But if they offer the input sincerely, you should take it seriously. If you think an idea has merit, say so. If you think it's flawed, explain why. Discuss ideas, not personalities. Don't allow the discussion to become a battle between "your idea" and "their idea" or a contest with a winner and a loser.
4. My boss values my opinion. You show that you value an opinion by listening to it, taking it seriously, and rewarding it. Most businesses reward results—jobs successfully completed, goals reached, bottom lines enriched—if they reward employee performance at all. Appreciation should begin much earlier in the process, when you're looking for hard work, cooperation, and creative input.
It takes courage and initiative for an employee to speak up. Reward that courage through your words and deeds. Questions and suggested alternatives are positive contributions, not threats.
5. My boss checks with me before making a decision that affects my work. You're the boss, and you make the decisions. When a decision affects working conditions, you should talk it over with employees and get their input first—not only to show that you respect them, but also to help you make the best decision.
6. My boss would defend me in a meeting of supervisors. Are you willing to go to bat for your employees, fight for them, defend them from unjust attacks, and take your share of the blame when something goes wrong?
Would your workers say that you're a "stand-up boss"? There's no higher praise they can give you.
7. My boss explains goals clearly when giving me a new project. Employees are no better at reading your mind than you are at reading theirs. When you assign a task, do you take the time to outline in clear, simple terms exactly what should be accomplished? An employee who understands the overall purpose of her work will do a better job and feel better about doing it. And you'll prevent costly mistakes down the line.
8. My boss welcomes my questions about an ongoing project. "Do you understand?" When most folks ask that question, they expect a quick "yes" (the same way most of us expect
Excerpted from Effective Coaching by Marshall J. Cook. Copyright © 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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