From Micro-Managing to Coaching

 

The business world is flatter, spins faster, peaks quickly, dives sharply and reinvents itself without the benefit of a sleep cycle. When the dust from all this fractured refiguring finally settles, it usually comes to rest in the semi-cubed work area of a manager who is besieged on all sides by the increasing task, process and people demands that come with trying to manage toward profits. One of the crucial changes that upset the traditional management cart has been the ever broadening span of control which stretches with the addition of new project teams and new team members. The skill of micro managing may become a distant memory, like erasable bond paper, because those comfortable with micro managing won’t have time to micro manage. Those staff members who lived through the detonation of organizational layers are expected to produce more, use less and build competencies as they stumble their way through the malaise. Managers will have to rely heavily on the personal initiative of staff members and presume that they are competent enough solve a problem and get results. The presumption of competence is okay as long as there is a supportive coaching process to round off the rough edges. The restructured battle ground known as the competitive landscape looks a lot different than the old command and control days of the industrial machine. Managing more people means controlling less of the process. Coaching is the glue that holds those two polarities together. More than just telling someone what to do, coaching combines guided discovery with hands on learning and the proper choice of tools to get the job done. All of this has to take place in an accelerated work environment with limited developmental time. While all managers want their staff members to act confidently and be the best at what they do, the forced hands-off model still leaves too much to chance. Managers must become good at coaching in order to achieve the broader results that come with broader responsibilities.

It requires a shift in how a manager thinks about the use of time. Like any budgeted item, time is an allocated resource that is woven through several items. Time allocated for coaching means time taken away from less important tasks. The purpose of this dedicated energy is to provide time to staff members to help improve their skill base, while moving a task along toward completion. As any good coach will attest, the ‘quantity’ of time on the front end of the coaching process is offset by the ‘quality’ of time on the back end. A manager, operating in a coaching mode, knows that certain tools (i.e. problem solving models, recommended readings) are essential to expanding the knowledge base and analytical capabilities of staff members. They also know that giving ‘feedback’ is a crucial element in addressing performance issues and how one gives feedback will vary given the needs and personality of the staff member and has to be specific to an issue or behavior.

In a business world gone global, managers will have to become good in the skill of coaching by shifting their thinking and behavioral paradigm to…

Listen more and talk less: Concentrate on what is being said in order to guide the staff member to the solution.

Delegate more and hoard less: Find those tasks that rightfully belong to members of your team and delegate accordingly. Find those tasks that don’t belong to anyone and detonate accordingly.

Move more and sit less: Issues that prohibit performance rarely show up on your flat screen monitor. Circulate among your staff members, find supporting resources and let them see that you are visibly available.

Ask more and tell less: Open-ended questions that guide staff members toward solutions, typically, start with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. There are no secrets here.

Coaching is about helping staff members to work smarter and maximizes the value of their contributions toward keeping their organization competitively ahead of the game.

 

By Guest Blogger, Dr. Lee Meadows

Dr. Meadows is a professor at Walsh College, teaching online and on-ground management and MBA courses. In addition, Dr. Meadows is a keynote speaker, training and development consultant, and motivational speaker for corpo­rate and community groups and professional associations.

In 2006, Dr. Meadows published “Take the Lull by the Horns: Closing the Leadership Gap”. He is also the author of numerous articles on leadership, management, diversity, career paths and projections and education.