Why the Coach Approach Beats the Manager Mentality

Managers listen up: Providing employees with tools to achieve their fullest potential is a much for effective strategy for company growth than just showing them how to complete everyday tasks and overseeing their duties.

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By Clifton Harski

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While the terms "coaches" and "managers" are sometimes used interchangeably, we know that they are in fact entirely different from one another. A manager shows someone how to do something, such as the day-to-day tasks for his job and a coach goes a step further to help an individual realize his full potential and maximize positive outcomes.

With this in mind, I offer a challenge to those in a management position. Ditch the title, or at least how you view its role. If you want to get the most out of your people, develop a better esprit de corps and increase your team's overall effectiveness by becoming a coach.

Here are four ways to do it.

Motivate instead of direct. The business of coaching is the business of motivating. Organizations that hire fewer managers and more coaches will be ones that lead from the front, dedicate themselves to the importance of their mission and encourage team work through inclusion.

Related: Leadership Playbook: 3 Ways to Coach, Not Criticize, Employees

A coach balances the art of offering excellent instruction while comforting, motivating and inspiring all at the same time. Business leaders that take this approach will find themselves developing far more effective teams. That's because coaches change people's lives, even if it's simply the difference in their attitude at the end of the day. Good coaches show team members their potential, help them find confidence in their work, point out the value of what they do and inspire them to be the best version of themselves. People's self-worth is often derived from the importance of what they do for a living, and the ability to positively affect others is hugely important and rewarding. Every time we coach an individual, we as leaders have that opportunity to impact him or her.

Related: Seven Steps to Coaching Your Employees to Success

Incentivize to go above and beyond. Coaches can get more out of people and do so in a way that helps team members find greater confidence in themselves.

For example, let's say you want an employee to put a bit more on their plate -- perhaps you want him to accomplish an extra task. For whatever reason this extra responsibly makes him anxious. The typical managerial tactic is simply to tell that individual to get it done -- no if's, and's or but's. This approach could make the employee even more anxious or even resentful.

Instead, try a coaching technique. Start by telling the person how much you've appreciated his contributions to date and praise him for their accomplishments. Then offer words of encouragement on how he can exceed his own expectations by taking on the additional challenge. Make sure there's a reward at the end for doing so. This doesn't have to mean extra money but could be something as simple as a public "atta boy or girl" or a gift card to his favorite restaurant.

Offer support to your fellow managers. There's another element to the coaching style of leadership that's vital for thriving entities: The ability to be there for other managers. In many cases, employees don't just come to managers for help in a particular task. They also come to their bosses to vent, gripe about a personal or professional problem or for reassurance. Team members come to their superiors to help turn their attitude around, which can put a physical and mental strain on leaders. As we strive to convert managers into coaches, top-tier organizations will find ways to support them.

Emphasize the fun. This brings up an essential point: A company's brand and culture are also integral to the continued motivation of the team. A large part of any business (ours included) is to create a fun, entertaining and safe environment for its clients. Employees that are happy and having fun will display that same attitude toward each other and the customer.

Related: 4 Things to Consider Before Hiring an Executive Coach

Clifton Harski
Clifton Harski is director of training and national head coach at Fitwall, the operator of branded fitness studios where consumers experience the future of fitness: 40 minutes of strength, cardio and flexibility with world-class coaches and cutting edge technology.  

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