Why Your Great Managers May Not Be Great Coaches

Great managers don’t automatically make great coaches.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “coach” is probably a sports reference, especially since we’re in the thick of football season here in the US.

But historically, a coach was a horse-drawn carriage that transported important people from where they were to where they wanted to be. When we talk about sales coaching, that’s a pretty good way to describe it: helping salespeople move from their current level of performance to a new one.

In fact, we know that managers who are effective coaches often help their employees travel significant distances. Employees who have been consistently coached:

  • Outperform peers by 27%
  • Are significantly more engaged (+25%)
  • Apply more effort (+18%)
  • Are less likely to leave (+25%)
  • Are more promotable (11%)
  • Retain four times the amount of information after training

Sources: Sales Executive Council, Gallup, Hay Group, Harvard University, Goleman & Boyatzis

Being a coach is also beneficial for the manager. When managers coach effectively, they not only enjoy their jobs more and get better results from their teams, they’re also freed up from having to spend their own time micro-managing or “taking up the slack” for underperformers. And that means they have more time to devote to critical, managerial-level business issues.

But just because someone’s a great manager, it doesn’t mean they’re already a great coach. And simply giving managers a process, framework or even specific coaching knowledge and skills isn’t enough.

Here’s why: Over our lifetime, each of us has developed beliefs about how successful we can be, how much money we can earn, the type of people we can call on and so forth. All of our actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities are bounded by these beliefs. Overlook these emotional aspects of performance—which ultimately influence both the manager’s and the employee’s success—and it will be very difficult to make any real headway.

In many cases, the manager and the salesperson end up stuck where they are, trapped by the Law of Limited Performance: Employees discover the level of performance their managers will settle for and then gravitate to that level; the manager then assumes that’s all the person is capable of achieving, so they accept it as fact and quit challenging them to get better. They each reinforce what the other already believes.

For coaching to be effective, it needs to recognize the connecting points in people’s belief boundaries—their actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities—and then focus on expanding those boundaries beyond what their current barriers are.

So whether you think of a “coach” as the catalyst for guiding an athlete to peak performance or the vehicle for moving someone to the next stage they want to reach, success requires a deeper understanding of how these emotional aspects affect the person’s energy, achievement drive and engagement in the growth process.

To get the positive outcomes coaching has to offer, your managers have to be able to:

  • Break the law of limited performance so they can see more in their people.
  • Understand the emotional aspects of performance and how they drive success.
  • Adapt their coaching approach to draw out more potential.

Learn about the 5 drivers of coaching effectiveness by downloading our white paper, Why Coach?



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