We spoke to an operations director at a manufacturing plant yesterday…heavy manufacturing, real blue collar environment. It’s an amazing story. He has started using coaching with his floor leaders. We asked what the impact was. He told us of one man who was slated to be fired. The guy yelled at other people and pushed them around. He is now one of the top performers. What changed? When he was coached. And through coaching by his manager he was able to transform his need for having people doing what he said…which led to all the yelling…to a passion for perfection and results.
Trust was modeled to him and trust is what he how offers the people who work under him. It made him crazy at first..this idea of trusting people rather than telling them. But he realized that even as his coach believed in the best from him, so he could believe in the best from those who work with him. No more yelling. Their production throughput continues to rise.
I got a call from a former coaching client asking me to work with one of her employees. It seems as though Ben was getting on people’s nerves. The manager wanted a coach to determine the problem and fix it.
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, “fixing someone” isn’t coaching… and based on the issue with the employee, my first question would be “what should the manager be doing that they are not?” I’m not trying to be hard on a manager when they reach out for help. However, coaching is not intended to be used in place of what a manager should be doing.
So, let’s be clear. Coaching is about developing people to their full potential. Coachlike leaders do that for their employees on behalf of company results and employee development. Professional coaches do that on behalf of clients who want to change or grow.
What do you think?
“You aren’t getting it done!” Ah, the words of a sales manager at the end of a quarter. He was berating his top producing seller because a major deal (one of those that makes the numbers for the quarter) was slipping away. You aren’t getting it done! When we looked under the “getting it done” part we found a product that wasn’t shipping. We also found a client who was loyal – but could be pushed into dissatisfaction if the sale was motivated by something other than their best interest (like getting a sale closed by the end of the quarter!). I could tell this wasn’t going to end well.
Here is the learning point for leaders….when I vent my frustration or anger through You aren’t getting it done! it may make me feel better (or justified), but that is the ONLY good thing that comes out of it. There is a dynamic among humans called “emotional contagion.” The emotions of a leader are contagious. When I communicate frustration, I create an environment of suspicion and judgment. My question for you is, “how effective are you when surrounded by suspicion and judgment?”
The end of quarter sales situation is frustrating…but what if I manage my emotions and communicate differently? You aren’t getting it done can become – “What you’ve tried isn’t working. What are other options?” By the way, let me ask my question another way. How effective are you when surrounded by hope and possibilities?
A great leader understands the full spectrum of their impact when faced with challenging conversation.
I’ll begin by telling you that sometimes the hair stands up on my neck when I hear the term “coach” used in business. I’ve met people who call themselves “coaches” because they have experience in some field (”I’m a graphics coach”) or because it’s a popular term (”I’m a business coach…I used to be a consultant.”) I’ve heard the term “coaching” used to describe what is about to happen to an erstwhile employee (”We need to coach him out of the business.”) What’s not confusing is self-serving.
Coaching is a noble, if not relatively new, profession. And if its going to grow to maturity, we need to take a stand for consistency and clarity. So we will welcome your questions and your comments.