Managing and Coaching
It’s hard to choose a single definition of the term management and this isn’t helped by the contemporary trend in organizations to tag almost everybody and everything as management in some manner. Arguably, everyone in a business is a supervisor to the extent that management is about deploying resources to get the job done, but most would agree that a supervisor in an organization has some level of responsibility for individuals and some say in how those people today go about their work.
Bearing this in mind it follows that supervisors are coaches and always have been it’s just that not all supervisors realize that and many would like it wasn’t true. However, if you’re a manager with responsibility for people than you will need to know what good coaching is all about and should be congratulated for investing time in exploring it!
The most common management style – even today – is a command and control type strategy. Management structures for most of the past century have been modeled on the military and despite the arrival of horizontal structures’,’matrix management’ and the like; this remains the most common strategy and feeds the desire for command and control. Command and control – or telling people what to do and how to do it work nicely in dangerous circumstances, emergencies or where there isn’t any time for anything else. But it does little for enjoyment and learning at work and therefore becomes hard to sustain and causes resentment and bad performance in the long run. Why does it persist? Since so many of our role models act like this, reward structures are geared towards short-term outcome and because, until recently, there was a lack of a workable option.
Coaching has changed all this and gives us great cause for optimism. Coaching is about inducing people to get things done, but in a manner that recognizes that individuals are complex, living, feeling human beings and that these factors can’t be ignored.
Managers are coaches and coaches are supervisors. It’s perfectly possible to combine the two functions though not always smart to do so. There’s an imbalance of power with managers having more energy and resources than the people in their own teams. This isn’t an impossible barrier to coaching but the issue can’t be ignored.
Coaching and Instructing
Within the supervisor’s function lies the task of enabling the men and women whom they manage to perform the job and further developing those abilities so that they do the job nicely. This is most commonly accomplished by means of a teaching, instructing type strategy. By this I mean the supervisor will sit together with their member of staff explaining what they have to do and how they should do it. Maybe this is so common because we’re programmed from school to feel that telling and instructing are the most suitable method of passing on skills. There are a time and a place for instructing naturally but in today’s world of work that this orthodox approach has three flaws.
Firstly it requires that you, as a supervisor understand the best way to get results yourself. You probably do to the technical facets of your function, but what about subtle behavioral aspects of performance? If you are naturally assertive, instinctive, likable, confident, daring or anything it can be virtually impossible to identify how it’s exactly what you are good at these things and frustrating to try to help others become proficient at things you find easy. Some of the greatest soccer players become the worst supervisors.
The next problem to overcome is then finding quite the appropriate words to pass this knowledge on. If, as an instance, you can pinpoint how precisely you act in an assertive manner or move about using your intuition, how do you convey that in words? Imagine trying to describe snow into an Arab or sand to an Eskimo. The problem is that other individuals rarely share very this frame of reference; sometimes called our’version of the world’. We must explain things in a way which fits with other people’s expertise, but do this by drawing on our own special experience. The odds of getting this right are slim, and the likelihood is that something will get lost in translation.
The third challenge is remembering. There’s a range of research that shows it is very tough for people to recall what they have been told or shown. 1 study indicates that people have forgotten nearly all of anything just ever explained to them after about 3 weeks. This enhances if we show and tell, but so as to demonstrate to our team what we want them to do; we need in order to do it. With the speed of change these days that is virtually impossible and isn’t the wisest use of our management time anyhow.