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Why You Should Manage Like a Coach (Not a Boss)

  • By Ironstone
  • |
  • June 4, 2019

Do you remember your favorite coach from your younger years?

Maybe they shouted loudly from the sidelines for you to stay on your toes, or maybe they quietly reminded you as you stepped off the field. Maybe they were tough on you — too tough sometimes.

But they did it because they believed in you more than you believed in yourself. Your coach was your biggest fan.

If your coach was a good one, they gave you feedback when you needed it and space when you didn’t. They set individualized goals for you to achieve, then supported you with what you needed to reach them.

They spent time with you, they recognized your achievements, however small, and they helped develop you on and off the field. They built a relationship with you that allowed for tough conversations under pressure.

What if that’s what bosses were like at your company today?

What if they were more like your favorite coach, and less like Bill Lumbergh in the movie Office Space?

It sounds like a joke — but according to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, one in two employees have left a job to get away from a manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career.

Why You Should Manage Like a Coach (Not a Boss)

We now know that the awkward, once-a-year performance review is not effective. Employees become defensive and deflated when rated and ranked based on old information or based on biases from a manager who doesn’t really understand their work.

But gone are the days of the manager who stands over your shoulder and asks if you got the memo every day, too.

Employees need (and have) a lot more autonomy today. But just as your coach helped you set goals that gave you a purpose and shared timely feedback with you and recognition to encourage you, so should a manager.

When managers provide meaningful feedback to employees, those employees are 3.5x more likely to be engaged.

It’s a fine line that companies need to equip and train managers to walk.

Are Your Managers Equipped to Be Coaches?

Unfortunately, only about one in four employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them — or that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.

Many managers struggle in this area. They aren’t equipped to have individualized, motivating, coaching conversations with their employees.

This has serious implications for companies, as managers have the greatest impact on driving performance and engagement within their teams. In fact, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.

So, how can you help you and your managers walk that fine line?
  • Start by empowering them to see themselves as coaches. Help them take ownership of each employee’s performance.
  • Discover how each team member thinks and behaves, and what motivates them to do better in their work.
  • Know and measure what employees need to be successful, and how to talk about it with their teams.
  • Employees who strongly agree that their manager holds them accountable for their performance are 2.5x more likely to be engaged. Make action planning easy and effective.

Managers can inspire and energize their employees like a coach — instead of having them feel like someone is breathing down their necks — when you equip them to have strengths-based, engagement-focused and performance-oriented conversations, often.

Are you just getting by or are you getting better? Get started today!

Author Bio

Ironstone is a learning and development consultancy with business acumen that translates across many industries. Our focus is on practice management strategies in order to enhance and improve both business and personal life. We support professionals who want major and comprehensive improvements that look at all aspects not just an isolated area for change. Ironstone has identified 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business.