3 Fatal Mistakes Managers Make When Coaching Their Teams

Connex Staff |

When managers are unable to lead and coach effectively, mistakes are made, and sometimes that can be fatal to your organization.

Here are three common management mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Failing to Communicate Effectively
    Communication is one of the most important facets of successful management. When managers communicate infrequently, they can appear superior or not part of the team. On the other side of the spectrum, managers who communicate too frequently may accidentally share confidential information or become too chummy with staff members. Successful communication requires balance and transparency. Managers should ask their people for feedback and empower them to share their ideas. They should listen to their employees’ problems and make them feel valued.
  2. Failing to Earn Trust
    Managers should maintain a strong level of trust with their team. When managers don’t trust their employees, they erect a wall between themselves and their people.

    Here are a few common signs of distrust:
    • Micromanaging employees: Hovering over employees is not only demoralizing and frustrating, but it can also hinder an employee’s growth and performance.
    • Controlling freedom: When managers control their staff’s freedom, they thwart collaboration, development, and the flow of good ideas. Managers should encourage autonomy. That also means giving employees the freedom to make mistakes.
    • Acting superior: If you act like you’re better than your staff, you will not only hurt their morale but you’ll also lose respect and trust. Be a role model for your employees and treat them as you would want to be treated if you were in their position.
    • Acting unfairly: It’s impossible to think of every employee as being the same. However, you should treat them all equally. Playing favorites will not earn you respect or trust. It can also cause resentment and unhealthy competition within your team.
  3. Failing to Coach
    There’s more to being a manager than managing; managers must know how to coach, too. Providing day-to-day coaching is one of the most important qualities of a great manager. Coaching is essential when it comes to your employees’ performance, productivity, and overall happiness. It has a positive impact on their
    • Sense of trust
    • Emotional outlook
    • Sense of value
    • Passion for work
    • Company loyalty
    • Company advocacy

Nearly 75% of organizations recognize coaching as a necessary leadership capacity. Yet only 5 percent claim to have trained their managers in coaching behaviors.

When leaders coach their people, it has significant positive effects on employee development, performance, and productivity. Nearly half of managers spend less than 10 percent of their time coaching others—that percentage should be much higher.

Managers Who Can Coach Make All the Difference

Behind every great employee is a great manager. In fact, the single most important managerial competency that separates highly effective managers from average managers is coaching, according to the 2015 Harvard Business Review.

But it’s not just your managers who are relying on you to provide them with the resources they need to coach effectively—your company is, too.

When Blanchard asked employees of 100 organizations in a 2016 study what their number-one concern was, respondents said it was getting their managers to be more coach-like.

Your company has invested in your managers and you want them to be effective leaders. So how can
you ensure your managers have the resources and tools they need to become great coaches?

Coaching takes place through conversations. When training managers to be more coach-like, organizations should consider these four essential skills:

SKILL 1: Listen to Learn

Listening is one of the most essential skills any manager can have. It makes direct reports feel valued and heard, and it builds trust.

Good listeners avoid offering advice (unless it’s solicited) and they don’t derail the conversation by offering up a time when they were in the same situation (again, unless it’s solicited).

They know it’s important to be fully present, so good listeners don’t multitask during a conversation. They also focus on what the other person is saying and respond in ways that make others feel heard and valued. In any interaction, managers should:

    • Listen with the intent of understanding the other person
    • Set aside distractions
    • Focus on the person and give their undivided attention

SKILL 2: Inquire for Insight

Great managers draw their people out. They ask questions that allow employees to share insights and ideas that can benefit projects, tasks, and the team as a whole. And it helps the manager to understand the underlying motivations in regard to what drives behavior.

When inquiring for insight, focus on moving forward rather than on the past, and avoid placing blame. Managers should:

    • Ask open-ended questions
    • Emphasize what and how rather than why
    • Encourage the direct report, once the conversation comes to an end, to recap in order to check for understanding

SKILL 3: Tell Your Truth

Because the goal is to create purposeful action through clarity, managers must learn that telling their truth is an opportunity to shift gears and give feedback when needed to accomplish goals.

Being honest builds trust and authenticity; it allows managers to share information that’s needed to help their employee move forward. Many managers are afraid being honest will hurt others’ feelings, but in all actuality, a truthful exchange can empower others. When telling their truth, managers need to:

    • Be brave, honest, and respectful
    • Be open to other perspectives
    • Avoid blame or judgment while they focus on forward movement

SKILL 4: Express Confidence

When managers express confidence in their people, it builds employees’ self- assurance and enthusiasm. In conversations with others, managers should:

    • Highlight relevant qualities or skills
    • Point out previous successes
    • Offer support as needed

These skills will help managers interact with their people more effectively
and promote clarity and positivity.

If you want your managers to deepen their leadership skills, you must teach them to use coaching skills and encourage a strong coaching culture within your organization. Help them transform from being OK managers to being winning managers by signing them up for our Coaching Essentials program, which will provide your managers with the mindset of an effective coach, the coaching process, and effective coaching skills that will help their teams accelerate their performance.

Content provided by The Ken Blanchard Companies, a Solution Partner in the Connex Partners' network.

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