Is Coaching the Silver Bullet for Managers to Achieve Higher Levels of Engagement and Productivity with their People?

The pandemic has made life and work tougher for mostly  everyone in many ways, and it seems that these situational difficulties have dampened employee engagement in many organizations. Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, wrote that only 20% of full-time employees worldwide are engaged in their work. He goes on to observe that there is a chain reaction where low engagement results in lower individual productivity that hurts organizational productivity that negatively impacts country Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (Clifton, 2021)

This chain reaction seems credible enough especially when it happens at a critical mass. What can organizations do to increase employee engagement that is good for its employees’ well-being and performance, its customers’ happiness with its products and services, and thus, the organization’s success? Employee engagement is good for business is good for customers.

One interesting “breakthrough” insight is offered by Clifton in his blog. These conclusions deserve a closer look so that we can ask ourselves how true it is for ourselves and the people we work with. And if these are true, what are we going to do to turn things around if we find ourselves stuck with less engagement and productivity that we know we and our people are capable off?

Clifton: “Gallup has discovered — through studying what the best managers do differently — that great managing is an act of coaching, not one of directing and administrating.

One of Gallup’s most famous leadership breakthroughs, based on meta-analytics of 100 million employee interviews, is that a full 70% of the variance between highest engaged teams and persistently disengaged teams is just the manager.

There really is a silver bullet to running a culture of high performance and high development.

It’s always the manager.”

Or perhaps, you might think, that you knew this already, i.e., that the manager has a lot of influence on employee engagement and productivity.

While many organizations and HR practitioners may not agree with the bold statement to cancel all rating forms, meaning performance ratings, many may agree with this statement about how the practice of management must be changed. Reinvented.

Clifton: “We lead through a habit of having one meaningful coaching conversation per week with each team member.”

Many managers and leaders we have trained on coaching skills for the workplace typically complain that they do not have time to coach, so their default management style is the traditional “command and control” approach that they believe saves time. But does it really and what are the tradeoffs? Here is the big BUT about just telling people what to do instead of developing their thinking skills and accountability.

Managers and leaders who fail to develop their people/teams may have overlooked that they have been training their people/teams to be dependent on them for solutions to challenges and problems that they may be capable of handling at their level. How much time and productivity are lost when people/teams wait for the boss to tell them what to do? Or, habitually pass the buck to the boss instead of taking responsibility? Another impact could be the boss becoming the bottleneck.

Coaching helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills, a more proactive mindset, and accountability. It not only helps people be more productive at work, but it also helps them rediscover their purpose, their passion, and focus on what are most meaningful and important to them, thus re-energizing their commitments.

So, would you agree with the title of the article, “Gallup Finds a Silver Bullet: Coach Me Once Per Week” from Jim Clifton, The Chairman’s Blog, May 27, 2021?

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

The Leader as Coach

A predictable reaction of some experienced managers and leaders when learning managerial coaching is that they worry about how their teams will see them when they adopt a coaching approach vs. a tell-them-what-do approach. Their teams have gotten used to going to the boss for the answers.

Many have gotten used to giving their teams the answer instead of helping them learn to think for themselves and come up with excellent solutions to challenges. Managers and leaders need to really know their staff/teams well. Remember, you will still need to adapt your approach depending on the your staff’s/team’s needs and readiness.

Are you unsure about how coaching your staff/team can make a difference? Reflect on your own development as a leader. How did you get to be where you are now? Did your superiors give you all the answers or did they give you more freedom to analyze and develop your own solutions?

https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-leader-as-coach/

Is Coaching and Counseling the Same?

No, they are not.  Some folks may, however, confuse coaching with counseling and this is not unusual. Both coaching and counseling focus on helping people deal with difficult challenges or issues. Both may also focus on helping an individual to change her behavior.  How are they different?

Counseling typically involves people who are experiencing some dysfunctional behavior or internal turmoil. Counseling is often focused on healing past wounds and looking for the cause or origin of the dysfunctional behavior. Going back to the past is intended to help the client get unstuck, to gain understanding on how the behavior may be causing problems in the present and the dynamics involved, and then to be able to move forward in making the change the client wants.

Coaching is for everyone. In the corporate world, coaching is often an investment made to help high potentials progress towards their full potential and prepare them for bigger challenges. In families and communities, it is for anyone who would like to have a “thinking partner” in pursuing her work, life, or other goals. Coaching has a future focus and aims to create a desired state, that is, the goals that the client wants to achieve. It focuses on helping the client clarify her goals, assess the present, and identify what steps or actions she will take to achieve her goals. It is more focused on the future.

The lines between coaching and counseling may not always be clear, especially for a client. What’s important is that the coach can ascertain whether his client needs coaching or counseling. And, unless the coach is also a trained counselor, the coach will refer his client to counseling.

Five Benefits in Joining the ICF Philippine Chapter

If you are a professional coach, one of the self development activities well worth your while is to become an active member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) Philippine Chapter. Whether you are a Life Coach, a Leadership Coach, an Executive Coach, or specialize in a niche of your choice, being a member gives you several opportunities.

Networking with other professional coaches. Getting to know other coaches who share similar passions gives you a larger perspective of the profession, the demand, practices, and trends, among other things. Networking also enables you to build your credibility with colleagues and market your services.

Continuing learning through the monthly chapter meetings. Activities during the meetings aim to enhance the core competencies of the members, as well as share developments in the field.

Participating in peer group coaching (PGC). Some of the monthly meetings focus on the PGC where one coach shares a case, anonymous of course, and the other coaches ask powerful questions that promote reflection, create fresh perspectives, and give valuable inputs that help the case owner to be an even better coach.

Volunteering to conduct learning activities. Each chapter member has unique contributions to make. As each one furthers her own competencies and practice, each one has something new to offer and share.

Earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Attendance in the monthly chapter meetings counts towards CEUs necessary to attain and maintain credentials.

The chapter meetings are held every last Wednesday of the month at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. To learn more about the ICF and the ICF Philippine Chapter, please visit the websites by clicking on their links in the Blogroll.

Developing Coaching Skills in Managers

So you want your managers to be good coaches to their direct reports and teams?  Where do you begin?  A good way to start would be to get them to attend a coaching workshop and then have follow-up coaching sessions where they are coached as well to help them apply what they have learned in the workshop.

The coaching workshops for managers provide the concepts and skills, and practice coaching sessions. These may focus on skills for overcoming individual and team performance problmes, and developing employee skills. The practice sessions promote gut level learning.  The follow-up coaching sessions is where they coach their direct reports and teams and get support and feedback from a professional executive coach.

Benefits of developing coaching skills in managers include fostering a positive coaching culture in the organization, building on strengths and developing new skills, increasing individual and team productivity, rekindling employee motivation, and creating promotable subordinates.

Depending on the goals of each manager to develop specifc coaching skills, maybe 8 to12 follow-up coaching sessions may be sufficient to help them move forward and achieve their goals.