Managing and Coaching are Not Separate Pursuits



I find it interesting this continual debate about what is the best way to drive performance - great management OR great coaching. In terms of paradoxical thinking we should be searching for the AND in this equation. Great managers drive performance and great coaches drive performance so what if we were able to combine these aspects to create great manager/coaches instead of either/or; what might the impact be of such a pursuit?


In order to answer this question, we must first breakdown these two concepts - management and coaching. According to the online business dictionary, management is defined as the organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. Coaching is defined as extending traditional training methods to include focus on (1) an individual's needs and accomplishments, (2) close observation, and (3) impartial and non-judgmental feedback on performance.

I would like to posit here that the activities of a business usually involve people other than the manager and therefore it is beneficial to focus on the needs and accomplishments of these people, provide them with close observation, and offer them impartial and non-judgmental feedback on performance in order to achieve defined objectives.

In this way management becomes the WHAT and coaching becomes the HOW.

But as Simon Sinek advises, we should always start with WHY. So WHY should businesses and organizations invest in developing both the management instincts and coaching abilities of their current and future leaders? In the recently published State of the American Workplace report, Gallup states that the majority of the U.S. workforce (51%) is not engaged due to general indifference to their jobs. Many employees who are not engaged want a reason to be inspired. They are the "show me" group that needs an extra push to perform at their best. While positive feelings, such as happiness, are usually byproducts of engagement, they shouldn't be confused with the primary outcomes. Rather, the primary emphasis should be on elements that engage workers and drive results, such as clarity of expectations, the opportunity to do what they do best, development and opinions counting. Gallup's recommendation after analyzing data from 160 countries on the global workplace is that organizations should change from having command-and-control managers to high-performance coaches.

High-performance coaching marries the best of management and coaching practices for the benefit of the employee and the business.

Another WHY for this shift from the manager OR coaching model to an AND approach relates to the changing composition of the workforce. As more millennials proliferate throughout business, expectations are shifting so much that 21% of millennials -- more than three times the number of non-millennials -- switched jobs in the last year due in large part to poor or absent professional and career development. Managers are primarily concerned with the end outcome whereas coaches desire to develop the capabilities of their people.

High-performance coaches would focus on leveraging continuous learning and regular feedback to drive positive personal and business results.

The impact of disengaged employees is clear and the impact of high organizational turnover is obvious. It is not simply possible to start from scratch and wipe the slate clean of current managers so the most logical approach is to help them evolve from managers into manager/coaches and then finally high-performance coaches. The transition from manager to manager/coach begins with an expansion of focus.

The manager must begin to concentrate as keenly on their employee as they do on

business outcomes.

They do this by taking inventory of each colleague's strengths, pride motivators, development needs, and turnoffs. Then they set performance expectations and work with their employee to achieve and exceed these objectives via a combination of strengths development, targeted reinforcement and motivation, and regular two-way feedback sessions. This effort comes with an immediate payoff in terms of employee trust. Taking a personal interest in someone beyond what they can deliver for you (as Dale Carnegie advocates in How to Win Friends and Influence People) usually provides a powerful relationship boost which creates a virtuous circle leading to higher levels of performance.

To be sure, this evolutionary process will be painful in the beginning. Still, just as the penguins in Our Iceberg is Melting identified key trends and navigated to safer ground, my advice is to start the journey to high-performance coaching sooner rather than later in order to avoid the coming business calamities of employee disengagement and millennial mass exodus.

What are your thought on the AND approach to management/coaching? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks in advance for liking this article and sharing with your networks!

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