The days of top-down, command-and-control leadership are coming to an end, giving way to a more transparent, empathetic management style. Instead of managers who breathe down their necks, the modern workforce demands a more supportive environment; one in which they are motivated by feeling connected to their work and supporting the success of their team and the business.
That means that in order to be successful, today’s leaders must let go of the traditional one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they must become better coaches; supporting, motivating, and playing to the individual strengths of their team members in the way that resonates best with each individual.
However, adjusting to this new management style can be a challenge for some who are steeped in the “old ways” of leadership. Becoming a better coach requires changing your perspective – on both yourself and your team.
To get some insight on how to make the shift, I e-mailed with Joanne Wells, a senior HR leader and expert in modern performance management, from Halogen Software. Joanne shared these tips on how you can become a better manager by improving your coaching skills.
Understand why coaching matters.
Employees want to be part of a culture where they can learn and grow as individuals and feel that their contributions have value beyond profitability. Which, when you think about it, isn’t really all that revolutionary. In all aspects of life, don’t we all want to be treated as individuals who matter instead of as cogs in a system whose only purpose is to serve someone else’s needs? If you don’t provide that kind of supportive environment, your team will stagnate like hamsters in a wheel—working hard but not really going anywhere. Soon they’ll be dissatisfied and head for the door.
Be willing to adapt.
Don’t assume that your management approach is the best. Conduct self-assessments to better understand yourself as a leader – your communication style, your intrinsic motivators, and how you want to be recognized and rewarded. Then, recognize that not everyone will—nor should they—share your perspective. It’s not their job to change how they want to be treated to fit your leadership style. It’s your job to tailor your approach based on their needs. In order to change your team’s behavior and improve their performance, it may be you who needs to change.
Get to know the whole person.
Set aside time to really get to know your team, both inside of work and outside. Learn about their passions and interests and how they balance work and personal life. Then, use that insight to inspire and motivate them. For example, if an employee is passionate about technology, figure out how to channel that interest in a way that they enjoy but that also helps the business.
Remember that your purpose is to help others.
Too many leaders think, “How can I get my employees to do what reflects well on ME as a leader?” If that’s your purpose, people will see through it, and you’ll lose their trust. Instead, your focus must genuinely be to improve the performance of your team. Your role is to help them grow in both their careers and in life, to feel valued as a person and not just for their productivity/output.
Always address “what’s next?”
In each interaction with your team, it’s important to establish a follow-up action. If an issue or obstacle arises for an employee, talk–in that moment–about what the two of you can do to 1) resolve it and 2) prevent it from happening again. Working together to develop solutions and remove barriers not only demonstrates your commitment to helping your employees succeed, but also that you value their input and suggestions.
Give them room to experiment.
As a manager and coach, it’s not your job to provide the answers to everything. Instead, provide a supportive environment where your employees can figure things out on their own and, if they do fail, can learn from the experience.
Being a successful manager is no longer about what you can get out of your employees. It’s about how you can help them succeed as employees—and as people—which, in turn, will help the company thrive. Adopting an employee-centric coaching approach is essential to empowering your team to perform at their best and achieve their fullest potential.
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[This article has been reproduced with permission from Knowledge Network, the online thought leadership platform for Thunderbird School of Global Management https://thunderbird.asu.edu/knowledge-network/]