take time to coach your team
9. August 2020

Why coaching others is important and how to do it

By Riccardo Giacometti

Several studies show that by using coaching, managers increase employee satisfaction! In addition, employees who are coached by their manager have a clearer idea of the requirements that are placed on them.

The leadership culture of today

The requirements for the management culture have changed considerably over the past decades. Employees have long since stopped wanting to be seen only in their role and as part of the whole. They strive to be perceived as individuals. In the course of the digital transformation, this demand for individuality and flexibility has become even louder. Today, all companies that want to survive in the long term face these challenges. Companies that cling to outdated hierarchical management cultures risk frustrated and unproductive employees. On the other hand, those who know how to perceive their employees as individuals and win them over for their business objectives will have employees who devote their full attention to their work. Many companies have recognized this. They appeal to their managers and give them the task of acting as coaches. But can these two roles be combined in the leadership function?

Employee Coaching – The risk of role confusion

Managers are responsible for the implementation of the corporate vision. Accordingly, they pursue one primary goal with their management tasks – the achievement of corporate goals. This is a significant difference to the role of coaches. Because they support their clients in achieving their own goals. Coaches are independent and neutral with regard to the corporate goals. This makes it clear that the responsibilities of managers and coaches cannot be combined in one role. If managers feel simultaneously committed to the company goals and the personal employee goals, this can lead to role confusion. And the manager accepts the risk of missing the company goals.

The opportunity of leadership style

It would be too hasty to conclude from these different responsibilities of managers and coaches that their competences also differ from each other. Excellent coaches are characterized by a high degree of emotional intelligence and social skills. These so-called “soft skills” are also becoming increasingly important in companies. They are the answer to the question of how corporate goals can be achieved most elegantly and successfully by managers and employees working together. For this reason, managers should develop a leadership style that is based on the core competencies of coaches – the interest in people as well as the skills of asking questions and listening.

Show interest

Trust is the basis of every well-functioning relationship – both in private and professional life. Managers should therefore take one thing above all else for their employees: Time! A short informal chat to start the week, a small Post-it message as a thank-you for a special achievement, a quick call for recovery, a birthday card. And many other things managers can do to show interest in their employees. In addition, managers should always be available for their employees and always maintain open communication at eye level. To achieve this, three points must be observed. First, before any communication, clarify the goal – “what do you want to achieve? Second, communicate this goal clearly to your counterpart. And third, never put your counterpart in the wrong. The best way to achieve this is to form sentences that start with “I” and not with “you”.

Ask questions

The industrial success entrepreneur Henry Ford said: “If there is any secret to success, it is the ability to take the other person’s view and look at things from his point of view as well as from ours. He already recognized the power of questioning as a management tool. And in employee coaching, it is the instrument to clarify goals, recognize resources and develop solutions. Managers should do the same. Because those who ask questions show interest in the opinions and experiences of others and acquire new knowledge. Questions are therefore the key to appreciation and further development – of oneself, the employees and the company. For example, hidden strengths of employees, causes of conflicts and problems in company processes can be revealed. All this knowledge is the basis for further development and potential development.

Practice listening

The positive effect of questions can only unfold if managers listen carefully to their employees. Active listening shows honest interest and creates a trustful cooperation. If, on the other hand, the feeling is conveyed that one’s thoughts are somewhere else, the positive effect of the questions fizzles out. Or even worse, you lose the trust and respect of the listeners. Listening is an art that needs to be learned. Coaches also need to train to become excellent listeners. Leaders should do the same. Practice listening by focusing your attention on the person you are speaking to. Ask if you have not understood something. And use questions to check whether you have understood the message correctly. This not only avoids misunderstandings, but also gives you the feeling of being understood and appreciated.

All of these employee coaching competencies help managers to develop a coaching leadership style that takes the pulse of the times and is a key success factor for excellent companies.

There are some developments and trends that we have to keep an eye on.

From these trends it can be deduced that the role and understanding of leadership will change:

  • The leadership task is becoming more demanding and complex,
  • There will be “temporary leadership”,
  • The meaning and number of status symbols will decrease,
  • There will be less (or no) official or positional authority,
  • If employees are more independent and self-motivated (self-initiative, higher motivation, more ambition), the supervisor no longer needs to motivate. His future role will be: more coach, mentor, moderator. He must create conditions under which his employees can be successful,
  • Future supervisors are more of a “condition creator”, “signpost” and “trailblazer”,
  • Managers must question the “tried and tested” instead of preserving
  • Lifelong learning must be complemented by lifelong “de-learning”.

Keep in mind that coaching is a positive energizer rather than a drain on energy from others. Unfortunately, the very people who should change their behaviour are often the ones who are not aware of it.  They are already too far up the ladder for anyone to tell them what they could do better.