Coaching Tips for Managers

As a manager, one of the more rewarding and challenging responsibilities you have is to coach, mentor and assess the performance of people on your team. They are not just “resources;” they are people, bringing the entire person to work every day. That entire person includes their emotions, family situations, strengths, skill gaps and personal preferences on how they want to be recognized.

I once heard a very unsuccessful manager tell her team to “Check your emotions at the door when you come to work.” After she fired three long-term, able employees over time, she was fired herself. It’s very important that you connect with your team and understand what motivates them. That motivation comes from within, and you can only influence it.

Here are some coaching tips to remember:

  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues: facial expression, body language, eye contact and posture. If you are hearing that everything is “great,” and seeing crossed arms, slumped posture, lack of eye contact or frowning, you’re probably not hearing the real story.
  • Use empathy by putting yourself in your employee’s position and trying to see things from his or her perspective.
  • Ask questions to make the employee feel like you truly care about his or her success; avoid using a checklist of tasks to be accomplished.
  • Don’t try to fix things with the “right” answers. Encourage the employee to explore options and discuss alternative solutions.
  • Avoid imposing change based on your opinion of what’s right.
  • Help the employee make good choices; suggest training and development opportunities to help with professional and personal growth.
  • Discuss behaviors the employee might change and ask how they might change them. Explain how the behaviors are impacting the project, the team and the bottom line.
  • Don’t “beat the employee up,” if you don’t see immediate change. Changing behavior takes time. On the other hand, you should hold the employee accountable for changing behavior with a month.
  • Don’t take it personally if the employee does not take your advice. The employee has to “own it.”
  • Listen, listen, listen!
  • Provide feedback tactfully, but clearly.
  • Seek feedback from the employee on the effectiveness of your coaching. Ask, “How can I be a better coach for you?”

If you adopt these proven coaching behaviors, you should see positive results. Remember, a poor manager is the number one reason people leave companies.