Manager Roles: The Coach – Part I

by Dan McGraw

The most effective managers assume many roles based on the situation and the needs of the organization. Whether it’s manager, leader, mentor or coach, these roles and their respective skills can be learned, practiced and mastered.  The role of the coach is one of the most powerful, yet it is among the least used, primarily because it is misunderstood and requires a skill many are reluctant to apply.

Big picture:  individuals grow in organizations through experience, fueled by abilities and training.  While most of us are aware of our behavior, we sometimes have blind spots, things that others see but we don’t. This often has an unintended impact on our performance, our teams, our results. This is where coaching comes into play, so to speak.

Why does coaching matter to the organization? Quite simply, it develops leaders, improves retention, and enhances current performance.  How about the employee?  Coaching leverages the employee’s desire to excel.  It improves their skills and chance for promotion, increasing their satisfaction in their job and builds trust with their manager.  What’s in it for the coach?  It provides rewards inherent in helping others grow plus it prepares the successor, improving the coach’s promotional opportunities. 

What is the coach’s goal? Success of the employee.  With the advice and counsel of the coach, the employee defines success.

What’s required for a successful coaching relationship?  You must identify the coaching needs of the employee. What skill must they learn? What behavior must they change or strengthen?  What strength might they exploit?  This requires observation of performance and behavior on the coach’s part. It can’t be done by hearsay.  And finally, the common “dominator”  is trust. The employee must know that you, the coach, have their best interests at heart. Unequivocally.

We know coaching is often about fundamentals.  The “Coaching Fundamentals” involves practices and methods that can be learned. The objective must be clear to both parties. Listening is more important than talking. Coaches don’t provide answers so much as they ask questions. Coaching means giving critical feedback that isn’t personally critical. The feedback must be invited, welcomed. Coaching isn’t for everybody. Why? For some employees, success has been achieved: they’re doing ok. These you manage and lead. Period.  Finally.  Skills and behavior are coachable.  Innate characteristics such as creativity, independence, ambition and competitiveness are not.

The Three Coaching Steps

# 1 – Awareness – the coach lets the employee know they have a need for coaching. This involves defining coaching, explaining the “blind spot” concept, and assessing the specific need. Here the first tool of the coach is used: feedback. This creates the awareness, focus and loyalty mandatory for the coaching relationship.

Next week in Part II we’ll discuss giving feedback, coaching steps 2 and 3, the remaining tools of the coach plus a bonus insight you won’t want to miss.

Dan McGraw, a management consultant, works with businesses of all types and sizes, coaching managers, changing organizational culture and conducting workshops.  The development workshops focus on new insights and taking appropriate action.  Many find the experience life changing.  This article is based on his workshop “Coaching for Greatness: The Two of Us.”  Dan lives in Seattle, Washington


About GGFA

The Gold's Gym Franchisee Association is the independent voice of the Gold's Gym franchisees.
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