Posts Tagged ‘Manager as Coach’
We are confusing ourselves and those employees who hold authority positions in our organizations with a plethora of role labels, each of which is valid and viable, but poorly defined and almost impossible to fulfill at the same time. I give you the examples of Manager, Coach, Leader, and (most recently) SuperBoss.
I have recently discovered Tanmay Vora (qaspire.com)and his wonderful pictorial depictions, often of literature he has read and wishes to summarize. Here is one that captures “Leadership” that he himself created in all its complexity.
No wonder our “leaders” are overwhelmed! This is a great list but really are nine different roles with lots of room for discussion, debate and overlap. In the process of having that discussion, we should carve out sub roles and point out that no one can be good at all these things and certainly not do them all at the same time. Even “SuperBosses” are not good at everything, despite the “super” part.
Let’s begin with “SuperBoss” because it also contains the label “boss,” another label that we can apply to people in positions of authority (formal and informal). I had the privilege to hear Dr. Sydney Finkelstein speak recently on the topic of “SuperBosses,” coinciding with the recent publication of his book of the same name. Examples of people he uses to describe the profile of Superboss (along with a 360 Feedback behavioral inventory) is quite diverse: Jazz legend Miles Davis, restaurateur Alice Waters, fashion iconoclast Ralph Lauren, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, producer George Lucas, SNL creator Lorne Michaels, NFL coach Bill Walsh, and hedge fund manager Julian Robertson. Dr. Finkelstein asserts that a “SuperBoss” can be created (i.e., developed), though I am not sure how many a given business could tolerate.
I had the temerity to inquire during the Q&A as to why he chose to build on the label of “boss” when it has many negative connotations, including associations with the Mafia (think of The Godfather). Was Vito Corleone a good Superboss? Or Michael, for that matter? Dr. Finkelstein shared that his first working title was indeed “Godfathers” but was dissuaded from that course due to multiple problems, not the least of which was gender-related.
Speaking of boss, this graphic has recently resurfaced on LinkedIn and is incredibly revealing. We obviously were not in the head of whomever created it, but it has some useful messages to reflect upon. On one hand, the Boss is in a position can’t help but generate negative feelings. But note that a) the team is trying to get over a ditch, and b) the Boss is pointing (not whipping), probably talking or shouting, and c) the platform says “MISSION” to infer that everyone knows what is trying to be accomplished (and evidently of some magnitude).
Despite the negative emotions you may have towards this “Boss,” I propose that the Boss is probably of more use than the Leader below, and should be called “Manager.” In the movie “Gettysburg,” neither Lee nor Grant are out there leading the charge. Each sets the “mission” and assigns others to carry it out, with many “others” required to do so, literally sitting at the rear of the attack.
The time for being the Leader is also important, and sometimes does require both setting the lead by getting on the ground at the front of the line (think “Steward”) , and getting one’s “hands dirty” in the process. What isn’t shown here is the role of the Leader in interfacing with the rest of the organization on behalf of the group, both vertically (upward) and horizontally (both internal and, if applicable, externally).
No wonder our “leaders” (maybe “boss” is better?) are confused and overwhelmed!
And then there’s the Coach. Being a “coach” while leading a team is a totally different set of skills and behaviors from those of Manager and Leader, let alone SuperBoss. Here’s another great Tanmay Vora graphic from reading the work of Lisa Haneberg.
There is a time and place for a Boss to be a Coach as well, and, as shown here, not an easy set of skills and behaviors to acquire and hone. These capabilities should be set aside from those of being Manager, Leader and SuperBoss so that they can be communicated, developed, measured and tracked (i.e., create accountability) in a clear message.
One thing all four roles (Manager, Coach, Leader, Superboss) have in common is that they each should “inspire action,” (though that “role” surprisingly is not included in the “Roles for Great Leadership” above). Each role does it in a different manner and, in general, with different emphasis on the individual versus the group.
The Forum Corporation published this study on LinkedIn (4/28/16) regarding competencies for first-level leaders. I would contend that this list further reinforces the need for differentiation of roles and their associated competencies in support of development and assessment:
Finally, I was pointed to this video (https://goo.gl/XfFQnR) of Joel Trammel who makes the distinction between Manager and Leader (and, for CEO’s, Commander). He goes on to say that he would prefer an organization full of Managers over having a bunch of Leaders. Clearly his mental model of “leader” is very specific and has little overlap with that of Manager.
In addition to inspiring action, there are clearly two other common denominators that create the foundation for any kind of positive relationship between Boss and his/her direct reports: Trusted and Trusts. Being Trusted springs from having integrity, being honest and being consistent. Being Trusting (or Trusts) happens as the boss shows respect and dignity, including empowering the direct reports to demonstrate their own talents.
In a nutshell, we might envision the Manager role as being depicted like this. Here I use the label “manager” deliberately to differentiate it from “leader,” though it does show the overlap with the “coach” aspect of the position. Most importantly, each of the 4 activities and the Trust/Trusted foundation must be described in behavioral terms in order to help all stakeholders understand what they require and how to develop them. “Culture” and “Goals” represent the organizational (contextual) environment that creates alignment for those behaviors.
Here are some basic role definitions:
|Manager||Ensures that day-to-day work requirements are achieved in alignment with organizational goals and values.|
|Coach||Partners with an employee to define and implement effective solutions for problems and/or ongoing work processes.|
|Developer||Partners with an employee to identify needs for short term and long term (career) development, and implements plans accordingly.|
|Leader||Coordinates across team members, represents the team vertically (upward) and horizontally (work groups, customer) to ensure alignment and motivation.|
Both the supporters and attackers of our Performance Management systems know that supervisors universally need to be better at providing feedback and developing their direct reports, all while accomplishing organizationally-driven performance requirements. This is a complex set of skills and behaviors that are best taught and developed on the job. That is done most effectively when sub roles are clearly defined, both for the benefit of the supervisors and the DR’s. We need to choose our labels carefully and ensure consensus when we describe a “boss.”
©2016 David W. Bracken
Please join OrgVitality for our next webinar in the 2015 series!
ALAMO: A New Diagnostic Performance Model for Individuals, Teams and Organizations
Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 12:30 PM EDT, 9:30 AM PST
David Bracken, PhD
Performance management and improvement are discussed constantly at all levels of an organization, i.e., individual, team and organizational. We can argue that all performance is sub-optimal (improvable), so the question is: what are the primary factors that drive performance, and then how to ensure that all those causal factors receive full consideration when prescribing interventions. Just considering individual performance alone, ALAMO addresses a huge need to provide managers with tools that support their critical roles of coaching and performance management.
The webinar introduces the ALAMO model of performance that is an acronym which mathematically combines ALignment, Ability, Motivation and Opportunity. We will discuss the value of acronyms, such as SMART and GROW, that promote the communication, retention and use of performance tools. In addition to being easy to remember, ALAMO promotes a holistic view of performance that considers a wide range of causal factors, derived from psychology, change management, and organizational culture. We will demonstrate how ALAMO can be applied to post-feedback discussions, including performance management and coaching at the individual, team and organizational levels.
We are pleased to inform you that this webinar has been approved to offer HR Certification credits. The use of this seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the activity. It means that this activity has met the HR Certification Institute’s criteria to be pre-approved for re-certification credit.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinars. We look forward to “seeing” you there!
Hope you will join me!
“Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value the relationship more than your ego.”
I saw that anonymous quote on LinkedIn recently and it drew me back to a small note in Traning & Development magazine dated February 24 on this topic. (http://goo.gl/8X6yRe) The text follows:
A recent survey of 954 global professionals by the Forum Corporation found that although 87 percent of managers say that they either always or often apologize for their mistakes at work, only 19 percent of employees say that their managers apologize most or all of the time.
Naturally, managers not owning up to their errors has a direct impact on employee trust levels. Another interesting insight from the survey is that while 91 percent of employees say it’s “extremely important” to have a manager they can trust, only 48 percent of managers agree that it’s extremely important for employees to trust their managers.
So we can only assume that it’s those managers who do not place a premium on trust who are committing the following worst management sins, as identified by survey participants:
- taking credit for others’ ideas or blaming
- poor communication
- lack of clarity.
Managers may condone their mistakes because they are afraid of tarnishing their image. According to the survey, 51 percent of managers believe apologizing makes them appear incompetent, 18 percent believe it makes them look weak, and 18 percent shrug it off, saying that apologizing is unnecessary.
Unfortunately, the study also shows that a low regard for employees’ trust may result in low engagement levels.
This note caught my attention for a few reasons. First, this concept of trust is one that is central to the “manager as coach” work we have been doing in defining the foundation of a productive relationship that is required (in our opinion) if a manager is to be a successful coach for his/her team members.
Trust is also manifested in the perceptions of senior management, whether that group is perceived as individuals or in their aggregate actions. Either way, time after time we see that employee surveys indicate that “trust in senior leadership” is usually the primary driver of employee engagement, confirming the last sentence of the article.
Secondly, the basis for trust (or lack thereof), as listed in the bullets, is determined by behaviors. Behaviors are a choice; a person can choose to do them or not. That choice can be influenced by consequences. Evidently, a majority of managers see more value in behaving badly. We can change that behavior by making them aware that they are behaving badly, and then having negative consequences for doing so. From top to bottom.
Thirdly was the discrepancy between the importance of trust to employees versus their managers. It is hard to believe that organizations do not preach honesty, integrity and so on, whether through Values statements that hang on the walls, or by lip service. It does suggest that there is inadequate accountability.
This T+D blurb is another in a series of articles and blogs I have seen recently that bemoan bad leader behavior and the effect on an organization’s climate (see my recent blog https://dwbracken.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/nimble-and-sustainable/), but with no specific recommendation as to a solution.
I really hate whining without a proposed solution. I have suggested that a 360 process with accountability (i.e., consequences, good or bad) is a viable solution. I recently heard of a major organization that has introduced a new leadership behavior (competency) model, and, when I asked how leaders are to be measured against the model, the response what to fall back on single-source supervisor evaluation because “360’s haven’t worked here.” I felt like I was in a backward time warp to 20 years when we started talking seriously about the shortcomings of single-source (manager) performance evaluations (see Edwards and Ewen’s first 360 degree feedback book).
Behaviors can be shaped, starting with creating awareness that change is needed, aligning to the desired behavior, and usually requiring consequences (i.e., accountability). A few leaders will change without the carrot & stick, but those are usually the ones who are not the ones who need fixing.
If you have leaders who are undermining trust, you have a problem. I think there is a solution.
A recent posting on the 360 Degree Feedback group in LinkedIn posed this question to the group:
I have been interested in more fine-grained detail about what it is that manager-coaches actually do that leads to perceptions on the part of the coachee that their managers are effective and supportive coaches. I see a lot of speculation and ‘armchair’ theorizing, but I cannot find specific, rigorous empirical research. Have I overlooked some references?
I have been similarly interested in this topic, largely due to my bias that 360 Feedback is most effective when the manager (boss) is involved in the use of the results, contrary to some practitioner who advise against it.
To that end, the work of Dr. Brodie Gregory caught my eye, particularly the instrument she developed and researched as part of her doctoral dissertation under the direction of Dr. Paul Levy at the University of Akron. Brodie has made a major contribution in identifying four constructs that she believes define the effective manager-coach:
- Genuineness of the Relationship
- Effective Communication
- Comfort with the Relationship
- Facilitating Development
Dr. Gregory’s research, though, may not fully answer the LinkedIn questioner since she doesn’t as yet have performance data on managers and the relationship to effective coaching.
I am posting two publications by Dr. Gregory in order to provide easy access to those of you who are interested in this topic:
I have also developed a workshop called The ManagerCoach©, designed to be delivered for organizations who wish to make their managers better coaches. The workshop integrates a feedback instrument that includes, with Dr. Gregory’s permission (the instrument is copyrighted), the item content she has developed along with some other constructs.
For your information, I will be giving a webinar that describes the concept of The ManagerCoach and introduces the content of the workshop. I will deliver the webinar next on September 6 at 12:30 EDT. Let me know if you would like to register (free). Or check at http://www.orgvitality.com.
I consistently see, when organizations have the nerve to ask, that the lowest scores managers receive on both surveys and 360 feedback are often related to employee development and/or, more specifically, coaching abilities. This is a fixable and measurable area of leadership development.
©2012 David W. Bracken