Explore tactics for creating rapport and building meaningful relationships with peers, stakeholders, senior-level executives, and industry leaders.
Stepping into the role of manager requires an enormous mental shift. You need to begin thinking about yourself as a people developer rather than a task-doer. Your success will be measured by your ability to make other people more successful. To help others strengthen their skills and talents in a way that consistently builds teams and grows companies. It's a big difference. While you still have to spend some time on training and troubleshooting, you can often have a greater impact by playing the role of a trusted coach.
As one Google engineer so succinctly, but compellingly put it, "Engineers hate being micro-managed on the technical side, "but they love being closely managed on the career side." And while you may not be managing engineers, I can safely say that this sentiment is true of many technical and non-technical professionals. Coaching is the best way to manage to the career side of the equation. Being a coach is all about using a different type of interaction with individuals on your team. Coaches ask probing, open-ended questions instead of instantly providing all the answers.
They encourage employees to challenge their own assumptions and to think critically. They help employees come up with their own ideas and approaches, rather than directing them to a solution, and they offer continuous support and encouragement. Managers who use this coaching technique end up feeling more invested in their employees, which inevitably translates into better team performance and when teams excel and innovate and succeed, that's a direct reflection of a great manager's influence.
So, how can you become a manager who coaches and guides your direct reports to higher levels of success? I have five recommendations for you. First, get to know your staff members on a deeper level and show them that you really care. As you build solid relationships with them, find out what part of their jobs they most enjoy. What parts do they least enjoy? Ask about their long-term career goals and aspirations. Actively listen when they talk and show a genuine curiosity about their wants and needs.
This will help you gather the information you need to customize your coaching and development sessions with each one of your employees. What motivates them? It's different for each person. The key is building trust and establishing the feeling of a partnership and growing their careers. Second, approach your coaching conversation with some specific tactics. Ask questions to make sure you understand the context of the issues. Challenge your employees to uncover problems and opportunities and explore the options with them.
Suspend judgment and assume positive intent, then partner with them to create goals for progress. Use these tactics consistently, but adapt your approach to fit each unique person. Third, challenge their thinking. Avoid the temptation to tell them exactly what to do. Instead, lead them to the right solutions by asking smart questions. Delicately prompt them to develop their own new approaches and behaviors, and be patient as they move forward to implement new strategies.
Essentially, you will be helping direct reports in reverse engineering a problem or challenge. You'll guide them to clarify the outcome they want and then work backwards to determine the course of action most likely to get those results. Fourth, after you coach your employees, be sure to provide them with the resources they need to support their growth. That might include access to professional development courses, rotation groups, a mentor, or even more of your time. You want them to follow through and it's critical that they have the tools they need to keep expanding their capacity.
Finally, tie the coaching process back to results. Communicate to them that outcomes matter and help them to track progress toward their goals. Your job as the manager is to provide continuous feedback along the way, that's what keeps the process alive. To give you a head start on implementing these techniques, I've got a full list of questions and prompts you can use to guide your coaching conversations. You'll find them as a downloadable handout. Moving from a technical professional to a manager involves many changes and adjustments, but when you have mastered those and can start helping others grow, you're well on your way to reaching real success as a leader.
- Moving from technical skills to relational skills
- Becoming more self-aware
- Communicating with greater impact
- Moving from individual to team results
- Broadening your perspective
- Building productive and meaningful relationships