It’s not uncommon to hear about the importance of good managers in the workplace. Google – being the innovator it is, wanted to prove that manager quality does not impact business performance.
Enter “Project Oxygen.” Google’s People Innovation Lab analyzed how past performance appraisals, employee surveys, and interviews impacted performance.
The result? Google’s hypothesis fell woefully short. The study found that manager quality was incredibly important to culture and performance.
Although most companies acknowledge this, many stop here. And that is a huge reason why many also have a crumbling culture. Without taking the next step to actually identify what makes a good manager, these companies remain stuck in a rut.
Based on the data from Project Oxygen, Google came up with a list of 10 qualities that constitute a good manager. Number one on the list? They are good coaches.
For the remainder of the article, let’s discuss why the best manager is a good coach.
Before we launch into the why, though, we need to define what coaching actually is. According to The Balance Careers, “coaching is the skill and art of helping someone improve their performance and reach their full potential.”
Far from just teaching and offering suggestions, coaching involves asking questions and listening.
Most coaches use the GROW model as a framework for their questions:
G = goal: “Tell me what you want to get out of this discussion?”
R = reality: “So what’s actually happening?”
O = options: “What could you do about it?”
W = what’s next: “What are you going to definitely do about it? By when?”
When a manager gives an employee the opportunity to answer a challenging question, it enables the employee to work on solving his or her own problems. This is incredibly powerful because an individual is much more likely to implement a solution when they came up with it themselves.
As a result, employees also develop the self-confidence to solve similar problems on their own.
Coaches ask questions because they believe that every employee can grow and improve. Growth takes time, though, and if a manager wants to become a good coach, they must be willing to slow down and spend more time with their employees.
Yes, it’s quicker and easier just to give instructions and advice. Yes, it requires a lot of patience to coach effectively. But with deliberate practice, coaching brings a higher return than just about any other management skill. When employees learn, performance improves, satisfaction, and employee engagement are higher. Thus making the organization as a whole more successful.
A final note to add about good coaches is they ask for feedback! Every employee is different, and some aspects of the GROW model will be more (or less!) practical with some employees than others. Good coaches practice, get feedback, adjust, practice some more. As their coaching skill progress they become less dependent on a linear framework. This allows coaches to take ownership of the coaching process!
Managers who learn to become good coaches advise less and ask more. They believe in their employees and demonstrate this by investing time in them. Coaching is definitely a step up from “regular” managerial duties, but it is the secret to unlocking your team’s potential!