Spent a good part of last week talking coaching skills to a group of managers in Texas. How do you coach? Why should you coach? Why do so many managers not actively coach their people?
Then I see this from Tim Sackett, which I think is pretty good:
"When you tell me I should ‘act’ more like a coach, and less like a manager, I get very confused. Let me give you a little insight to how most coaches behave:
- Our intent is to get our players to be a more aggressive version of themselves for a short period of time to help us win a game.
- I’ll publicly extol the virtues of team, while behind the scenes push internal competition beyond a healthy level.
- I love it when my players want to kill each other, and having a fight at a practice isn’t really a bad thing."
Tim's point, which I think is pretty good, is that a BS generality that managers should coach like we see in sports is simple at best, and probably dangerous. You have to pick your role models carefully, and for the most part, you don't want your managers acting like sports coaches. Those guys (and gals) are absolute cavemen. I know, because I used to be one at the college level many moons ago and now find myself attempting to find balance coaching youth sports at a pretty competitive level.
So let's assume that Tim's right (go check out the rest of his post at the link above). Is there anything we can learn from the best sports coaches as we think about the right way to engage our teams on performance?
Yes we can. The best coaches, both in corporate America and sports, are willing to confront situations that need to be confronted.
The hardest thing about being a manager in corporate America is that most of the people who are promoted into roles managing others weren't promoted for their ability to coach. They were promoted because they were the best individual contributor doing what they did. So we assume they will be the best at managing others doing the same work.
That's true to a certain extent. If you were kick ass at the job, then get promoted to managing others doing the job, no one understands it better than you. You've got creditability as well.
But the thing you aren't prepared for? Confrontation. Most people don't do it anywhere as good as you did it. So you see them do things that are counterproductive, and you really need to get in there and try to make them better.
But to do that, you've got to tell them how they are doing things isn't great. In fact, sometimes it sucks.
That's why any coaching tool or methodology designed to help your managers needs to have a simple, low impact way for the managers in question to start any coaching conversation.
They've got to be able to confront - and they have to do it in a way were it doesn't feel like blatant confrontation. To Tim's point, most of us aren't wired like Tom Izzo. That means we're less likely to confront bad performance when we see it.
That's why they need your help understanding how to do something as basic as start a coaching conversation. They're not screamers. At least we hope not.