This article throws light upon the top five benefits of coaching a manager. The benefits are: 1. Problem Identification 2. Parameter Setting 3. Strategy Development 4. Increased Participation 5. Monitoring.
The manager and the managee sit together to identify problems and areas for improvement and set goals— short term goals as well as long-terms goals, with measurable indicators to monitor progress regularly which help in performance review.
The manager and the managee jointly sit together, set parameters for deciding the things to be learned, activities to be undertaken, timings, who will take initiative in what areas, etc.
The manager and the managee jointly engage in problem solving: help the managee to develop strategies for change in performance and behavior in specific situations. Through active listening, asking exploratory question, checking implications of the managee’s ideas and sharing personal experiences in similar situations, the coach manager enables the managee to discover learning.
The manager encourages and empowers the managee to volunteer risk-taking and assume new responsibilities. The manager respects the managee’s autonomy in the learning process and allows maximum space for the managee to set an agenda and to take initiative. He nevertheless, constantly guards against an over-enthusiastic or a desperate managee plunging into failure- prone experiences.
The manager helps to reinforce and clarify learning by asking the managee to summarize major points learnt during each coaching session and by encouraging him to make notes on actions to be taken by him before the next session.
The manager enhances managee’s awareness of his potential in the current job and abilities to shoulder greater responsibilities. The manager provides advice when specifically asked for, but doesn’t spoon-feed, prescribe or offer ready-made solutions.
The manager and the managee monitor progress jointly. Some people understand the coaching process in much the same way as performance management itself: setting tasks, monitoring progress and learning by doing. Only that,, the primary purpose of this process is learning.
For reasons of similarity of process, it is not hard to combine coaching and performance management:
In setting Tasks:
(a) Such task has a learning goal.
(b) Each task is consistent with the managee’s ability to learn; it builds on his experience and responds to his development needs.
(c) Each task is measurable and capable of being monitored time schedules, reports, compilation of information, etc.
In Monitoring Progress:
(a) Regular or periodic Review meetings are conducted in order to discuss progress on the learning agenda.
(b) The manager retains from providing answers to the managee’s problems till a point in time when the managee has exhausted all possible resources. This search for answers to problems is an important learning process, and a good coach doesn’t interfere with this process.
Since coaching is a supportive activity, the managee has confidence that the manager will allow him to experiment with his own ideas. The manager constantly helps the managee in the process of exploration by asking relevant questions.
In Learning from Doing:
(a) Review meeting on completion of tasks.
(b) The manager and the managee need to find out what worked well, what did not—and why? It is important to know the causes of success so that these are used to reinforce existing competencies, just as it is important to know the causes of problems or reasons of failure, so that these are used to develop alternate approaches. Both are equally a part of learning needed to improve future performance.
The purpose of any coaching is to help a managee to improve the job knowledge, skills or attitudes to do things differently—rightly and better, and to stop doing things wrongly or inefficiently.
Coaching, like problem solving is a three-stage process, involving:
i. Clear understanding and definition of the performance problem, its diagnosis or analysis and inter-alia checking that coaching is in fact the appropriate strategy to deal with the instant problem. At this stage, the managee is also enabled to accept the problem and its implications for exhibiting good performance, and ultimately for career development in the organization.
ii. Discussion or work with the managee to provide requisite in terms of knowledge, skill or attitude change, resulting in a plan of action for the change process. During the interaction, manager and the managee share their distinct perspectives on the performance problem and attempt one shared perspective.
They then agree on what will be a mutually satisfying solution to the performance problem that the managee can accomplish. This indicates that coaching involves—manager’s inputs that can equip the managee to better deal with performance problem. This interaction concludes with an action plan for the managee, which includes a monitoring mechanism in order to see the progress in the work.
iii. Monitoring the change process and correcting when required.
All dialogue is more effective when physical set up is conducive: the two face each other and no physical barriers, like desks, dividing the two and they discuss the things openly without hesitation or fear.
Another need of effective coaching – as in all dyadic-helping situations – is creating interpersonal rapport, showing interest, frequent eye contact and alert posture, observing managee reaction and body language to understand what is going on in the managee’s mind, are other manager behaviors that help. Writing down short notes is a positive indicator of interest on part of both the manager and the managee.
Some performance deficiencies of a managee may clearly indicate whether the managee needs skill development or attitude change. In other cases, the choice may not be all that clear so, it is usually better and simpler to attempt skill-building first. Building skills is much easier than changing attitudes. If skill building doesn’t improve the performance, the manager will have to attend the attitude change, which is much slower, and harder.
Marked deterioration in behavior or performance of a usually competent and dependable managee is probably not a skill-related problem. He may be going through a difficult phase in the family or with colleagues, feeling aggrieved or dissatisfied in the organizational situation.
This is essentially a mentoring situation where, for whatever reason, the managee is feeling inhibited from seeking the manager’s help. Where the mentoring facility is not available or accessible, it may become necessary for the manager to open the door for dialogue.