3 myths about “Manager as Coach”

As organisations explore the communication skill set needed by managers, those labelled a ‘coaching’ are coming under greater scrutiny.

Full disclosure: Forton is an elite sponsor of next month’s Creating a Competitive Edge through Coachin symposium, organized by the International Coach Federation.

We see the symposium as an opportunity to challenge the myths and sort out facts from hype.

This is what organisations say when they start along the ‘manager as coach’ route:

  1. Our managers don’t have time for this
  2. We can’t afford for managers to go soft on tough performance targets
  3. We can’t risk them getting trained up then leaving to become a life coach

Let’s look at these more closely.

Time

Time is a precious commodity.  So why spend time listening to team members when managers could just be telling them what’s needed?

Coaching skills, such as listening, powerful questions and supporting people are investments in time that reap valuable rewards.

Putting a figure on the value of a team member feeling listened to and understood is the cost of that person leaving because their boss lacks these skills.  (About 18 months of time, salary and benefits, according to the CMI.)

Being trained in coaching skills is an investment in staff engagement, which is closely linked to the business bottom line.

Soft Skills

Managers who coach are the most business-like people in the room, because they listen to the full range of experience and opinion from team members, before making a decision.

There’s nothing ‘soft’ about coaching skills.  They’ve been shown to improve performance – markedly – delivering on time and to budget.  Coaching also supports people stepping up and taking responsibility.  It aligns particularly well with “Agile” and similar methodologies, where collaboration is critical to success.

Retention

The ‘if we train them, they’ll leave’ myth is powerful, based on fear of losing good people.

The great jazz trumpeter, Louis Armstrong left the band that gave him his first breaks.  When people asked the bandleader – who mentored Armstrong – how he felt about losing him, the response was “I was lucky to have him playing second cornet, as long as I did.  I always knew I’d lose him one day.”

Supporting people to develop their career is a vital leadership skill, and good managers never forget those people who mentored them along the way.

There’s also another myth hidden here – about become a professional coach.  Gaining the qualifications, setting up a business from scratch and getting those first breaks takes effort, fortitude and energy.  When people find out just how challenging this step is, only those with single-minded determination take this path.

If your organisation is thinking about introducing coaching and communication skills, to improve performance, support successful appraisals, or improve engagement, use an experienced coach-training organisation like Forton.

  • We’re accredited by both the ICF and CMI to deliver leadership, coaching and mentoring skills.
  • We offer half-day one-off training to tailored blended-learning programmes.
  • We’ve trained organisations like BT, Network Rail and the NHS for over 15 years.
  • We are preferred suppliers to the UN and work with organisations of all shapes and sizes from SMEs to global corporates.

For details, contact info@thefortongroup.com, or come and talk to us at the ICF symposium, and let’s debunk those manager as coach myths.

One thought on “3 myths about “Manager as Coach”

  1. Robyn Garrett

    Great article! I’ve heard that point about time many times but it’s absolutely true that the more time leaders spend coaching, the more they can get from their teams!

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