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5 Coaching Skills every Manager should have

Coaching Skills for Managers

Nope, managers don’t have it easy. Their job concerns lie beyond their own performance. If their teams are under-performing, managers are among the first ones to be given a one way ticket to the south side of desperately seeking jobville.

With the responsibility of a team, in the midst of higher honchos pressing for brighter performances, it is tough to be the guy who has to lead the herd and listen to the scowling from above. It is no wonder why most managers are drawn into the result hungry, micro-controlling personalities, sometimes even contrary to their character. ‘Coz excuses just translate into inability to manage!

But can the situation be only improved by high handedness? Will employees cooperate better with intimidation or would they rather work with the motivation of getting a positive experience out of their time at work? And if, as a manager, you are able to take on a role that would cement a better working relationship and a nurturing environment, wouldn’t that ultimately lead to their professional development? Wouldn’t that make you Napoleon with a heart?

Here in this article we will talk about that one particular skill which can make you shed your corporate tough attitude and build that managerial soft skill which makes your team members write little poems on you. It’s the ever important Managerial Coaching skill. (Read List of key skills for managers and employees)

Why is coaching important?

The answer is simple. Employees have multiple reasons to be employed. Compensation comes to mind. But what is also important is the opportunity to grow as a contributor and become indispensable members of the working community. Having become a manager, you are most likely technically sound and have the expertize that has come about with your experiences. Using those to develop your team will only attract motivated and efficient members, devoid of negativity and usual politics (Read How to tackle office politics).

And that’s how managers can become that fevicol type bonding agent in the organization. If you think it is only lip service, talk to Google guys Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Several years back, they tried an experiment of eliminating management altogether. An idea which seemed remarkable at that moment soon turned out to be a disaster.

Pretty soon, they realized that minus the middle management, the engineers were finding themselves lost at sea. They would sometimes even approach Larry with he said-she said daily squabbles. Didn’t take Page and Brin long to reinstate managers in their coveted chairs once again with one well learned moral of the experiment – manager vaale taaliya le jayenge!

In fact there is an industry study – High-Impact Performance Management: Maximizing Performance Coaching conducted by Bersin and associates, which has shown that the right kind of management coaching can impact an organization positively, quantitatively by 21% more than ones without coaching.

So having established the irreplaceable significance of management, in an organization, let’s see how managers can practice coaching to develop their team.

5 Coaching Skills every Manager should have


1. Be ready to listen to your employees

Time is a cruncher and we all know that. With densely packed schedules, it is easy to forget about employee communication. But if you lack that simple gesture of listening to them, you will be starved of a healthy working relationship. So stop to hear them out. And stay beyond a minute please!

The idea is to create an environment of trust and positivity. A concerned manager looks to find ways to create a workplace that employees are eager to come back to, everyday.

2. Don’t boss and tell

You are the boss. So it is obvious that you will have to direct your employees on occasions that call for you to tell them about assignments or even the next steps in the team’s goals. But when it comes to individual team members, ask and not tell them their plans about their professional goals. Is there any skill that they would like to hone? Do they prefer working on certain modules vs others? The idea is to create self-sufficient employees who in turn reflect the effect of good management on their training.

3. What comes first, employee or the task?

If you responded with the latter, you are still miles away from being the coaching boss. Always the employee! Remember that. After all, it is the individual development you are looking to achieve. The task is on the hit list of the result driven manager. While obviously important, it leaves out the desires and needs of the people who make the organization in the first place.

4. Ask the right questions?

Let’s do a pop quiz here to test your soft skills. Tell us which one sounds less judgmental and more inspiring.

Column A Column B

Did you finish that report?

Do you need any help to work on that report?

Go, attend that meeting

Do you have some time to attend this meeting?

Did you botch this?

There is a better way to do this. Do you know about it? Should I show you?

Were you late again?

Is everything okay?

Do you know how far behind you are?

Would you like us to sit down and plan your tasks? Are you taking on too much work?

If you prefer any of the ones from Column A, you need to evaluate your coaching skills, OR take a bite of a Pan Passand for an instant mithaas conversion. Open ended questions leave room for trust and an overall sense of encouragement.

5. Sound assistance and accountability

Once you have discovered your soft side, work on it to fruition. Don’t just ask them for their future training or development plans and shove them under the office rug. Follow up. Encourage them to create a development path for themselves and work with them to achieve the goals.

Say an employee wants to learn about Lean Production and the general elimination of waste from an organization. Encourage her to take requisite time out to get trained in a workshop, class or whatever’s available. And then follow up with having her present her learnings to the team and implementing at least one lean system to make her team more efficient and less wasteful.

The sign of a successful manager is not just a productive team. It’s a happy and productive team. By taking on soft skills which ultimately benefit the career of his team members, a manager makes it possible for employees to be more invested in what they do – beyond the yearly bonus and the pay packet at the end of each month.

Be the mentor who listens, talks, commiserates, encourages and even defends his employees when the situation calls for it. So go ahead, coach your team to be the Phogat sisters of the corporate world! And yeah, in the movie Aamir Khan did a lot of things (in the name of coaching) that we wouldn’t approve of.

Learn more about the list of top skills you need to polish.

Sources:1, 2, 3 | Image credits:

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Rakhi Acharyya
About Rakhi Acharyya
Rakhi is a freelance writer, a Physics PhD from Michigan State University, an ex-teacher and a former employee of Corporate America. Follow her on Twitter.

1 thought on “5 Coaching Skills every Manager should have”

  1. Hi Rakhi, thanks for sharing these thoughts!
    Articles like this help getting back one’s focus and composure in the midst of high energy, high pressure work situations.

    A mentor of mine once told me, ‘People management is not about managing people; it’s about managing yourself while interacting with people’.


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