March 26, 2019

44: Manager as Coach with Amy Born

Managers play many roles throughout their day: leader, task-master, visionary, advisor, facilitator, cheerleader, etc. One of the most important roles any manager plays is that of coach. When a manager puts on their metaphorical coaching hat, they’re shifting out of the role of telling people what to do and into one of encouraging team members to discover their own answers.

This week’s guest, Amy Born, has spent most of her professional career in the field of organizational development and organizational psychology. Amy and I talk about strategies and approaches to help managers be good coaches for their direct reports.

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Read the related blog article: How to Coach your Team Members

Key Takeaways:

  • When managers play the role of coach, they focus on asking questions to get the other person to discover the answers for themselves.
  • It’s surprisingly difficult to switch from giving the answers to asking the questions. Try saying, “what ideas have you considered?” before giving your thoughts.
  • Coaching is not always the right approach. Coaching is appropriate when you’ve clarified what success looks like, defined the parameters or boundaries, and you trust that the individual has the capability to come to their own conclusions with a bit of help.
  • Instead of coaching, use a more directive approach when the questions are for clarification and/or the individual is new to the role or still developing.
  • No one wants a manager who has completely disconnected or is micromanaging. Coaching requires regular check-ins to maintain alignment and ensure the individual is moving in an appropriate direction.
  • To make the shift more incremental and avoid creating unnecessary stress on your team members, let them know that you’ve got ideas but you want to hear from them first. You can also offer for everyone to spend a day thinking it over and regroup the following day to share thoughts.
  • Most patients ask their doctor the most pressing or sensitive question just as the doctor is leaving. Encourage your team members to ask you whatever question they have. Try shifting from “do you have any questions” to “what questions do you have?”
  • Coaching doesn’t mean you avoid accountability. You still need to hold others and yourself accountable to deadlines, metrics and progress.
  • Communicating internally is critical. Many organizations spend more time thinking about how they communicate externally than internally.
  • As a manager, you’re striving to find the right balance between over- and under-communicating with your team.





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