The trend these days is clearly for managers to take on more of a coaching role. But they still need to be the manager! These are two different roles.
As a manager, you have stewardship for results in your area of operation. You ensure that your people are performing at an acceptable level and are supporting the organization’s larger strategy. As a coach, you help your employees achieve their required performance. You assist them, facilitate their thinking, and help them be more effective in the way they work.
As a manager, you are the boss. As a coach, you are a partner. For some, it can be a dance to pull this off.
You have your manager hat on at three points in the performance cycle (year):
- At the beginning of the cycle, when you establish performance goals and development plans with your staff. Yes, you ask for their ideas and buy in, but if there is push back from them, you cast the ultimate vote.
- At any time during the year when performance standards, goals, or deadlines are not being met. You have to step in and do what it takes to get the employee back on track.
- At performance review time, when you provide the organization’s interpretation of how well the employee has done vis-à-vis the agreed-upon goals and job standards.
The coach in you shows up at all three junctures as well.
- At the start, collaborating with your employee to scope the work, identify any project plans that are needed, and discuss what support you can give him (her).
- The bulk of your coaching duties take place during the performance period. Periodically you check in with the employee to see how he is doing and what he needs from you. It may be a bit of advice, a chance to problem solve, recognition for work going well, encouragement around a more challenging aspect of the job, and so forth.
- At performance review time you are coaching when you broach the topics like how he feels about his performance year, what he has learned (that he can take forward into the next year), where he really shone, and where he could have done differently to have had even better results.
Try to be aware of which role you are playing when. Then you will be able to–in conscious awareness–do the “two step” and shift roles when the “music” calls for it. (Did I overdo the dancing metaphor? I guess I did.)