Managers as Coaches

There was a time in the not too distant past (pre internet days) when managers actually did more than just sit in their office and hammer away on their computers writing ‘very important report and strategies’. They actually went with their sales people out in the field and saw firsthand how their people were performing when in front of customers………..and then coached them to improve performance Unfortunately these days, far too many Managers are just seen as problem solvers or wheeled into a big account for the ‘royal visit’ where they ultimately have a conversation with a customer that they should have trained their people to be able to do. Or on the rare days they do spend out on the road with their people they are on their mobile phone, typing emails or sending text messages, or ‘must be back at the office by 2 for a very important meeting’ One of the most over used words in the business language of 2012 is ‘empowerment’. Sadly it should translated as MCO or ‘Managers Cop Out!!’ because far too many managers are empowering their people and not spending time with them, then they wonder why their people don’t hit target. It is a good thing is that, today, more and more KONA clients are starting to realise that something is wrong with this picture. Solving a problem every time it surfaces is well and good but the old saying “prevention is better than cure” still applies in any business. It is better that you fix the problem once and for all rather than fix it temporarily. So the question is, how do you fix a problem once and for all? The answer is through coaching. Managers should not be employed only because of their industry experience and ability as problem solvers and decision makers but also as coaches. Can you imagine one of the current top performers in any given professional sport competing at the top level without a coach? And yet ask a Manager what their number 1 asset is and they will say “my people’. Then through their actions they contradict themselves by spending less time with their people on the road than ever before…. and their sales people are the people who typically bring in the revenue that does pay the bills (or not with the ‘empowered under-performers!) Coaching an employee takes skill and patience and repetition, (not just a once a blue moon visit) and is critical to the growth of their people. Like teachers, these coaches should know their subject as well as their students as they should never teach what one does not know. And one cannot teach effectively if they do not know his student and what the student is capable of. The command and control technique in business is proving to be ineffective nowadays. Employees are more productive and respond a lot better when they are coached and encouraged rather than just be told what to do and then be expected to deliver good results. When Managers start becoming coaches and actually engage with his or her employees, customers will actually notice and will greatly appreciate the effort. Customers will be more than willing to talk about their needs as they know that someone is actually in the position to help them. In the end, you will get results that really count – satisfied employees, increased customer loyalty and sales people hitting budget.