Becoming a Transformational Manager with a Coaching Focus

By April 9, 2019 Coaching

The transactional nature of traditional management is no longer sufficient to inspire confidence, creativity and energy in an office of highly skilled professionals. Modern managers need something more – a spark that inspires their employees to grow in their roles and feel comfortable developing new skills.

Organizations are increasingly finding that a shift from top down management to supportive coaching and hands-on connection with employees can have a profound impact not only on morale, but on the bottom line. Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to transform from a manager into a coach and change agent for their organizations and direct reports.

Adopting a Coach-First Mindset

Whether you’re a first-time manager or an executive with years of experience, it can be difficult to strike the right balance of providing the structure your direct reports need, discipline when called for, and accountability to KPIs and performance expectations. It’s easy to focus only on the tangible deliverables and neglect how much of an impact you can have on people by adopting a coaching mentality.

With a coach-first mindset, instead of incentivizing people not to fail, you motivate them to succeed. You offer encouragement and advice when they need it most and continue to communicate the goals and values of the organization to establish a shared sense of purpose.

A coach is proactive, looking for ways to build up and better the people who look to them for guidance. In contrast, a purely reactive approach to management leaves employees unsure of their place on the team, more likely to fear failure than celebrate success.

Holding Effective One-on-Ones

We’ve long championed the importance of effective 1:1s performed on a regular basis with your direct reports. Clear and concise weekly communication keeps everyone on the same page, providing employees with an opportunity to voice concerns and challenges. You can catch problems as they develop, remaining constantly aware of how your reports are feeling. Without this weekly check in, you risk waiting too long to address these issues, which can lead to a significant drop in performance.

What does an effective 1:1 look like?

  • It’s Focused on the Direct Report – A good 1:1 is devoid of distractions on either side. That means meeting when there are no other distractions, putting away your mobile devices, and making clear eye contact throughout the meeting. It sounds simplistic, but these elements are often missing. If you’re too busy to give your direct report your undivided attention, reschedule the meeting.
  • You Restate Concerns – A key component of active listening – making your direct reports feel heard and fully understood – is to restate their concerns throughout the conversation. Make sure you fully understand what they need and why they need it. Nothing is worse for an employee than to spend 30 minutes being vulnerable, and in some cases pouring their hearts out, only to realize later that their manager didn’t really understand.
  • Make It Personal – 1:1s help get to the root of persistent work challenges and concerns, but they are also a great way to get to know your team and build a resilient long-term relationship. You’re not their friend, but a manager is more than just a coworker. You’re a trusted partner in their success. Make them feel appreciated and supported.

To learn more, download our Guide with Tips for Better, More Insightful One-on-Ones. In it, you’ll learn how to get more out of your conversations, make sure others feel heard, and express your opinions and suggestions in line with the needs of others.

Adjusting to Shifting Employee Priorities

Today’s workforce is increasingly mobile, less engaged at work, and yet more likely to stay for non-monetary reasons than ever before. In a recent study, Gallup found that 55% of young employees don’t feel engaged at work and 21% have switched jobs in the last year.

While many see this as a decrease in workplace loyalty, we see it as shifting priorities. A whopping 44% of those same workers say they feel more engaged at work if they have regular meetings with their managers (and yet only 21% report doing so). In a separate Great Place to Work report, younger employees are 22 times more likely to want to stay with a company they feel has a high trust, high engagement culture. Companies where managers show a greater interest in employees as people have exponentially higher levels of market agility and innovation.

The modern workforce is less concerned about a stable long-term job, regardless of how they are treated, and far more focused on intangible elements like culture, trust, and personal development.

As a manager, that puts you in a unique position to not only drive performance for your team, but to address the cost of turnover by creating a culture of improvement through coaching.

Championing Personal Development

We know that leaders with a results-first, bottom-line driven leadership style can actually cost the company money as employee performance drops and turnover rises. Additionally, several studies have linked individual success to organizational success – people stay longer, are generally happier, more productive, and safer on the job. Employees are a critical asset – their wellbeing and happiness is directly correlated with the success and overall health of a company.

Even for a small startup looking to grow, it’s easy to fall into the habit of focusing on results first and ignoring the value of having a resilient, engaged workforce. Managers who are also coaches actively support personal development in their reports. They encourage people to take on stretch assignments and coach them through the associated challenges. They ask in what areas their direct reports want to grow, and most importantly, how they can help. As a coach you can directly impact the skills, confidence to use those skills, and business impact of your direct reports.

We’re committed to teaching managers these valuable coaching skills and are excited to be participating in an upcoming webinar panel in collaboration with 15Five. In the presentation, Transforming Managers into Effective Coaches, Torch Executive Coach Loren Bale will join Caneel Joyce from Evolution to discuss how to shift management style from transactional to transformational and have a profound impact on employees and the organization as a whole. Register now for the webinar, taking place on April 17, 2019 at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT:

Register for the Webinar

Author Cameron Yarbrough

Cameron is the Co-founder and CEO of Torch Leadership Labs. In this capacity, Cameron heads up business development, sales, and marketing, and defines Torch’s strategic vision. He brings 15 years of entrepreneurial experience to his role as CEO, along with a deep background in mindfulness and psychotherapy.

More posts by Cameron Yarbrough

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