Thanks to educational groundwork done by HR professionals, most managers today are giving timely feedback to direct reports throughout the year—leading up to the annual performance review.
With formal and informal conversations happening more regularly, managers can now aim for depth (rather than breath) during 1:1s and quarterly feedback discussions, ensuring that the annual review comes with clear, well-defined goals for the coming year and zero surprises.
That said, there are other improvements that HR professionals can introduce into their organization to help promote employee retainment and job satisfaction. A 2016 Gallup survey found that 86% of employees consider their managers to be uninspiring, meaning that their bosses don't motivate them to do their best (or even their “mediocre”).
One way that managers can motivate their direct reports is through the coaching management style. Read on to learn more about what differentiates it from more traditional styles of management.
A manager who has adopted a coaching management style is one who empowers employees to critically think about a problem, present solutions and make informed decisions. Colloquially, these managers are referred to as macromanagers.
Conversely, a manager who prefers to focus on just performance management has the instinct to step in and resolve every issue on behalf of their direct reports. The most extreme cases of managers that focus on only performance are the micromanagers, who often ask to be CC’d into every email and pinged with any small update.
One important aspect of the coaching management style is the active encouragement of a direct report to own their work and rely on their own expertise, rather than waiting to be told what to do by their manager or spoonfed the steps to achieve a goal or finish a project.
Here’s an example to illustrate the coaching management style.
Your direct report lets you know that they’re having trouble getting a reply from A on a project due in one month.
If you’ve coached your employee, they will let you know that they’ve already sent a follow-up email once. They’ve also set a calendar reminder to send a final follow-up email to A in one week.
Then, your direct report asks you to call A if there isn’t a reply in two weeks to ensure the project deadline isn’t pushed back. They also ask you if you have any additional insight into why A may not be responding.
An employee who hasn’t been coached will simply come to you asking for the solutions outlined above in the example and then follow your instructions to the letter. Efficient? Maybe, but not in the long run or if you should ever try to take any time off...
Some managers might naturally employ the coaching management style or may have learned it from a mentor or their own past manager. They may not even have a name for their management style; however, they’re often the managers whose direct reports are the most engaged and productive in the company.
But as we've said, only some managers rely on coaching.
Like all other management styles, the coaching management style is one that can be taught, either by asking managers to shadow other leaders who already employ the coaching management style in your organization or by outsourcing to continuing education courses or management trainers.