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Historically, management coaching has focused on teaching the processes, tools, and techniques managers use to maintain order and keep workers busy.
But this authoritarian and hierarchical approach to management training is no longer working—if it ever was at all. To stay competitive in the modern business environment, companies are rethinking not only how they train their managers but the entire concept of what a manager’s role should be.
Today, workers expect autonomy and support to do their jobs the best way they know how. The modern workforce doesn't need babysitters. It needs leaders.
New coaching models have emerged that are based on science instead of old practices and theories. These new models draw upon principles such as positive psychology and mindfulness that have been proven to enhance a person’s performance at work and equip managers to become better leaders.
In this article, we’ll explore what these new management coaching trends look like and how you can start implementing them in your organization today.
Two major flaws hold back the traditional management coaching approach: first, a focus on implementing an inflexible management structure: and second, a short-sighted view of how problems should be solved.
Traditionally, managers used tactics like reprimands, punishment, incentives, and rewards to try to get their employees to behave in the way they wanted. While this Pavlovian approach to management may influence productivity in the short term, the constant pressure to perform can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and ultimately burnout.
To avoid these pitfalls, managers must look beyond the carrot-and-the-stick approach to understand what truly drives motivation and productivity in the workplace. Employees want autonomy in their jobs and control over their professional development—with a little coaching from their managers.
Managers must look beyond the carrot-and-the-stick approach to understand what truly drives motivation and productivity in the workplace.
When employees come to work each day—whether remote or in-person—they want a say in how their work gets done and the flexibility and support to do their job on their own terms. After all, they were hired because of their expertise. It only makes sense to let them do what they do best—especially considering all the research that shows how much better employees perform when they feel in control.
The most effective managers treat employees as equals who deserve respect and consideration. They avoid old assumptions about an employee’s productivity being tied to an office chair. Modern managers trust their teams to get the job done without forcing them to ‘keep the seat warm’ from 9 to 5.
As the workforce continues to become more competitive, employees need to be constantly reskilling and upskilling. In fact, in their 2020 report on The Future of Jobs, the World Economic Forum estimates that within five years, the required core skills will have changed in roughly 40% of professional roles.
Professional development is important to today’s job seekers, and it’s a trend that will continue to grow. Employees expect upskilling and reskilling opportunities because they want to stay relevant in their positions. And manager-coaches need to understand how to help them learn the skills they need to be successful, not only in their current position but also in the next steps on their career path.
Today’s employees want to follow a leader who’s part of the team. When employees feel like they can collaborate with their managers to identify and solve problems, they feel like they have ownership of those problems. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile and engage in problem-solving behaviors that help the organization grow.
However, collaboration needs to be a two-way street. In addition to bringing employees to the table when the manager needs help making decisions and solving problems related to the business’s goals, managers also need to help their employees develop strategies for achieving their individual career goals.
When employees feel like they can collaborate with their managers to identify and solve problems, they feel like they have ownership of those problems
The first step toward becoming a better leader is understanding the difference between control and influence.
Traditional managers focus on exerting control over others. They might view themselves as more effective when they are dictating the manner and method of working and are more likely to be seen as a “strong authority” in their organization.
Leaders, however, understand that their role is about more than just managing their employees. Leaders focus on professional development and inspire their teams to thrive. In other words, they view leadership in terms of inspiring and influencing others to do great things rather than enforcing rules and reprimanding employees.
A leader is not just the boss or CEO; they are a person who acts as a guide and motivator. They understand the importance of finding the balance between giving their employees the freedom they want and the support they need. They empower their team to learn and grow. And they know the value of collaborating on goals and solutions.
A leader is not just the boss or CEO; they are a person who acts as a guide and motivator.
Leaders know it’s important to give their staff the freedom to do their jobs and also to have them working under the guidance of someone experienced.
Good leadership is knowing when to give people space and when to nudge them in the right direction.
Leaders know that employee autonomy is an important element of building strong employee engagement. In fact, for nearly 60% of knowledge workers, the flexibility to do their job where and how they want is the most important benefit a company can provide—more important even than salary.
Effective modern leaders also understand the pitfalls of being too ‘hands-off.’ The ambiguity and absence of structure that comes with an overly laissez-faire leadership style can lead to uncertainty and chaos—and research shows that absentee management styles actually cause more long-term damage to employee job satisfaction than actively antagonistic, tyrannical management styles.
Leaders need to provide enough structure and accountability so employees know what’s expected of them and take ownership of their actions. As well, it’s important for leaders to show support for their employees by listening to their ideas and responding in a timely manner.
A good way for leaders to do this is through regular check-ins with each of their team members so they can make sure everyone is on the same page. This helps them keep track of projects and workflows while also staying up to date on their employees’ frame of mind.
When leaders prioritize the development and empowerment of their team members, it improves individual employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Having a team made up of highly-skilled employees also makes the team as a whole stronger, smarter, and more effective.
Good leadership is the difference between telling someone which chess piece to move and coaching them toward strategies that will help them play the game better. By empowering the employee to learn and develop new skills, the leader ensures their team members can be successful without requiring input all the time.
With results-based mentoring, leaders help their team members identify specific development needs and give them structured tools to achieve their goals.
In business, leaders still need to be able to take charge in the face of uncertainty and make tough decisions. But adopting a more collaborative approach to problem-solving actually inspires better decision-making and creates confidence in the decision among employees.
By including employees in the decision-making process, leaders emphasize an influence-over-control mindset that promotes the development of solid work relationships and fosters a culture that values the contributions of all employees.
When leaders demonstrate open-mindedness and a willingness to learn alongside their staff, it shows they care deeply about their team’s success because they’re part of the team.
With this type of leadership, employees feel more invested in their work and are less likely to feel overwhelmed or burnt out.
If one thing has become clear over the past several years, it’s that ‘the only constant is change.’ As the next generation of workers continues to enter the workforce and technology continues to upend how—and where—we work, your leadership team will need to be ready for whatever changes may come.