Make a Shift from Manager to Coach
Heidi Zwart

If your job title includes the word “manager,” your responsibilities have shifted in the past 18 months. You may feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped as others look to you for support, encouragement, and answers in the changing workplace. Successfully adjusting to the new expectations of your team and organization requires you to make a shift from manager to coach

What’s the difference?

Good coaches develop people. They learn their team member’s strengths, listen to their personal and professional goals, and empower them to do their best work. When employees feel understood, heard, and supported organizations see improvement in engagement, performance and wellbeing. Likewise, when managers know their own strengths and how to use them, they will feel more confident in their role, which directly impacts how their team members experience their individual roles. When you make a shift from manager to coach, the entire organization becomes more productive and profitable

How to make a shift from manager to coach

Prioritize frequent conversations over reviews.

In most organizations, too much emphasis is placed on annual performance reviews. Rather than using this as a benchmark and motivation to improve performance, Gallup suggests having one meaningful coaching conversation per week with each team member. This conversation can happen in person, on the phone, over Zoom, or in the hallway. Employees who strongly agree they have had conversations with their manager in the past six months about their goals and successes are 2.8x more likely to be engaged. To make a shift from manager to coach, check in with your team often.

Ask good questions. 

One of the key identifiers of a good coach is the questions they ask. Learning how to ask good questions is a skill you can begin practicing today. Asking good questions is a key skill to build strong relationships with your team. Many of us have never thought about how we ask questions or what it may feel like to be on the other end of our questions. To build better working relationships, it’s important to develop your ability to ask effective questions. When you do this with intention, you make a shift from manager to coach. 

Focus on strengths.

Your team members need to know what they do best and feel empowered to use their strengths every day. A tool like CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) can help identify these individual strengths. 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths are engaged. When your team is engaged, performance and productivity increases and turnover decreases, which improves your organization’s bottom line. Additionally, your own workload becomes more manageable as you delegate tasks to those who naturally do them well. Plus, with the newly released CliftonStrengths for Managers Report, you are  even better equipped to help your team thrive.  

When you make a shift from manager to coach, you will feel more confident leading your team through uncharted waters. While it does require you to learn new skills and adopt a new mindset, the payoff will improve your own wellbeing at work and in life. 

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