The Management Relationship
There's value and power in the coaching relationship. It's a relationship that draws its strength from the power of shared goals. That kind of power is available to any manager once they understand and internalize this philosophy.
Just as a sports coach must align himself with the goals of both his athletes and the team, so must a manager align himself with the goals of both his staff members and the organization. Doing so, he can dramatically increase everyone’s productivity.
Following is a list of attributes of a successful manager/coach. How does your management team, (including yourself), measure up?
You help your employees set ambitious, yet, realistic goals. This helps them create strategies for reaching those goals, and holds them accountable for their actions. It also creates a “support” mechanism that builds stronger and more ambitious employees.
You commit yourself to the success of your individual employees. On top of that, you commit yourself to the overall success of the organization.
You bring an educated, objective, long-term perspective to the work at hand. It’s the manager’s job to keep a watchful eye on the horizon. Is the work that is currently being done, pulling your business into the future? Remember, no business can afford to remain static.
You care about the personal welfare of your employees. When your employees arrive at work, the rest of their lives often show up with them. To some degree, it's their responsibility to leave their troubles at the door and focus on the task at hand. Realistically, however, their personal lives can never be filtered out completely. If someone close to them has passed away, or if they are having trouble with their spouse, their work is going to be affected. Certainly you’ve got a business to run and work has to be done, but when someone who is usually productive starts to slow down, the reason may have nothing to do with work. Let them know you care and give them time to sort out their issues. When you're sensitive to the personal needs of your employees, they'll reward your business with loyalty and renewed devotion.
You give your employees your undivided attention. Often, the boss is the last person to know when there's a problem. If employees are concerned about something, they may be reluctant to let you know no matter how open you seem, especially if you're busy. While you can’t have people interrupting you on a regular basis, if there's a serious problem, you need to know about it. Encourage your employees to book themselves a private meeting with you at any time rather than dropping in unexpectedly. Blocking off time for them will allow you to give them your undivided attention. This will show your employees that you value their input without infringing on the time you need to focus on your own work. As an added bonus, it encourages your employees to solve minor problems on their own. If they have to go to the trouble of setting up a meeting with you, they’ll take the process more seriously.
You stand behind your people through winning and losing. A manager who runs and hides when things go wrong, quickly loses the respect of his employees. When it’s appropriate, shoulder the blame for the losses and give credit for the victories. Your people will go the extra mile for you.
You admit when you make a mistake. Everyone is human and honest mistakes will be forgiven. Admitting you are wrong does not make you look weak. It demonstrates your character, and encourages others to do the same. When you're wrong but won’t admit it, you lose the respect of others. Don’t let your pride bring you down.
You forgive others when they make mistakes. You do, however, expect them to learn from their mistakes.
You expect excellence from others, as well as from yourself.
You offer praise when it's deserved. Give credit when it's earned. Handing out praise simply to make people feel good is counterproductive. If you praise your people when they haven’t done anything outstanding, they’ll eventually stop taking you seriously.
You give and demand respect at all times. Treat everyone you work with and everything you do with the greatest respect. This doesn't mean you should become a pushover. On the contrary, it means you take your work seriously. If an employee has an idea, take it seriously. If an employee has a complaint, take it seriously. If you treat your employees right, they’ll treat your customers right. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between employees who feel they're treated well by management, and customers who feel they're treated well by those employees. How much is a happy customer worth?
You make full use of your Corporate Foundation. You put a lot of work into your Corporate Foundation. Your business now has a Mission, a Vision and a set of Values. Make them part of your business, not just something on the side.
Your business has a purpose, a reason for existing in the world. It doesn’t just take up space and your people need to feel that. Hopefully you made them part of the process when you developed your Corporate Mission. Let them know it wasn’t just another program to try to get more out of them. Let them know you're absolutely determined to give your business a life of its own and they are the most important part of that process. They need to feel that they work someplace special, someplace unique, because without question, they do.
Your business operates under a moral code of ethics. Handled correctly, they will become the foundation of your Corporate Culture. Insist your business operates in line with its Corporate Values and make sure that you do as well. If your employees see you breaking your own rules, they’ll label you a hypocrite and start breaking them as well.
Your business has clearly defined written goals and a plan to achieve them. Let your people know what they're and get them involved. If your Corporate Vision is to be realized then it must become an inspiration to all, not just to upper management. You need the input of your entire organization.
You demand integrity of yourself and others at all times. Accept nothing less than the highest degree of integrity from your staff and from yourself. Be honest, be fair, keep your word and expect others to do the same. In this day and age, it's imperative that your business develops a reputation for operating with integrity.
You support your staff. The main function of a manager is to support his employees. Old school of thought would have you believe the reverse is true, that employees support their manager, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s up to the manager to make sure his employees have the best tools, information and resources available for their jobs. The better the support system, the better your employees can and will perform.
You regularly meet with your employees in one-to-one sessions to review and support their progress toward their performance objectives.
You walk your talk. If you want your employees to follow your rules, you’ve got to follow your rules as well. How many times have we gone into a business and seen an entire staff of people who show up for meetings on time except for one; the manager or owner who feels the rules don’t apply to him. He’s got a problem. What kind of message is he sending his staff? How important is a rule that the boss doesn’t feel the need to follow?
If you have a rule that states“the person who drinks the last cup of coffee must refill the pot,” that means you too. In fact, it’s doubly important for you because people are watching you. When you set rules that you don’t follow, you set up an adversarial, “us and them” relationship with your staff. This is completely counterproductive.
Rate the leaders and coaches you have on your team according to the values that are important to you.
List five ways you have used some of the above "management coach" principles successfully in your business.
List five ways you and/or your managers could improve your current management style.
Use this exercise as a focal point for a training session with your managers as well.
There's a famous story of IBM’s founder Thomas Watson and one of his vice presidents. The vice president was working hard to develop a new product line which was considered a risky venture. Unfortunately, it ended up a huge failure; one that cost the company $10 million.
Mr. Watson called the VP into his office with the intention of discussing this matter. Clearly upset and certain he was about to lose his job, the VP began, “I guess you want my resignation.”
Mr. Watson replied, “You must be kidding! We just spent $10 million dollars educating you!”