Why won't managers coach and what to do about it? We've been teaching managers how to coach for almost 20 years now. One fundamental thing continues to be prevalent when we hear about the struggle to get managers to coach. They don't have enough time. In reality, they do have time. When we think about situations where a manager has to hire because they've lost employees due to another company or a competitor hiring them, what do they do? Scream that they don't have time? Of course not. They have to be involved in the interview process. Where does this time come from? The time comes from the everyday day to day timeframe of 8 to 5. Managers do have time. Let's be honest, they choose not to use the time to coach because in their mind, there are potentially other things that are more valuable.
Here's the thing about time. What if there were ways that we could facilitate coaching for managers to make it easy for them to participate? What if there were coaching strategies and methods that literally took none of their time? We need to get creative when getting managers to coach. Here are a few strategies you can use to get managers to participate in the coaching process. One, teach methods such as observational coaching and journal-based coaching that take no time on the part of the manager. Two, create guides teaching manager specific questions and activities they can deploy to facilitate coaching. For example, create a cheat sheet on how to coach a salesperson to overcome price objections or create a cheat sheet for our manager to coach their sales staff or customer service staff of how to handle angry customers.
Three, facilitate what we call best practice sessions. One of the best things that we can do from the training side of the equation is to engage with managers at a level they would not expect. For example, if you have a director of customer service whose customer service metrics are going down and through a conversation, you ascertain the director feels as a result of people not knowing the products very well, what if you were to offer to set up of a best practice session. Now you might be wondering what a best practice session is. The reason I used that term is so carefully is because most people will simply think it's a workshop and another form of training, when a best practice session is utilizing coaching strategies. A best practice session could be pairing up people and giving them an element or a feature of products and having them teach it to another fellow employee as if they were new employee. The theory is to know something is to have the ability to teach it.
Four, literally have a book-based coaching approach. Years ago we worked with a company that was really struggling with change and the way they were doing things was out of date and nobody was arguing that point. We literally brought hundreds of books called My Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter. A book was to be read by every employee and manager and everybody was assigned to groups that were comprised of cross departmental employees and managers. Each session had an activity such as what did you learn from this chapter or what did you learn from this chapter you think the company could apply or what did you learn from this chapter that you personally could apply to help the company transition more favorably.
These type of coaching strategies are probably not going to be at the tip of your manager's tongue or even prevalent within their circles. These present incredible opportunities to get managers to coach. Last, let me share this. There is no buy in to manager's coaching and here is why. Managers coach every single day. They coach people to either stay at the company or leave the company. It is widely known the number one reason people quit today is not the organization, it's their direct boss.
A manager who does not have time, who presents and is perceived as not being engaged or caring is literally coaching an employee to lead the organization. This notion of getting buy in is one that is useless and a waste of time.
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