The Manager as Coach: How to Walk the Talk

The “manager as coach” phrase may get tossed about at your organization, but has it really taken hold? Has your leadership really put these words into practice? If so, you may have already begun to see the transformative impact of a coaching culture on your employees’ engagement, performance, and growth.

But, if your organization is like many others, and the concept of manager as coach isn’t yet embedded in your culture, now is an excellent time to discover employee coaching and its many benefits.

What is “Manager as Coach?”

Managing and coaching are sometimes used interchangeably to describe the manager-employee relationship. However, the terms are not the same. Managers typically hold a position of formal authority and are responsible for assigning work, setting deadlines, and tracking employee progress. Conversely, coaches focus more on guiding employees in a direction that helps them develop their strengths, work on areas that need improvement, and perform to their potential. Any manager can also be an effective coach with the right tools and support.

Managers who coach consistently do the following:

  • Demonstrate active listening and make employees feel heard.
  • Show empathy for the challenges employees face.
  • Offer ideas and suggestions instead of delivering mandates or orders.
  • Communicate clearly and articulate desired outcomes.

The Manager as Coach: Top Benefits of a Coaching Culture

Managers already have an incredible impact on the employee experience. However, when they also coach their employees, everyone benefits. Research by the Human Capital Institute found that organizations with a strong coaching culture have higher overall talent and business outcomes, including higher profitability, innovation, and productivity.

Improving managers’ coaching capability can also produce the following results:

Higher employee retention

Of the many reasons employees leave their organization, their manager is often at the top of the list. In a CareerAddict survey, 79% of people said bad leadership would encourage them to leave, and 43% said they would return if their manager were replaced. However, when managers utilize their coaching skills to support employee growth and development, employees are likely to be more optimistic about their future prospects in the organization and potentially less likely to leave.

Higher employee engagement

When managers go beyond the day-to-day of managing and add coaching to their leadership toolkit, they can be more effective in empowering employees and motivating them to do their best work. According to Gartner research, employees who report to managers who coach effectively are 40% more engaged than employees who receive no or ineffective coaching.

Employee skill development

Coaching can also boost workforce learning and skill development. The guidance and encouragement employees receive from their manager-coach helps them become more confident in their abilities. With time, they may be more willing to try new things and support company upskilling and reskilling efforts.

Build a Coaching Culture in Your Organization

Most managers come into their role with little coaching skill. In fact, Gallup research found that only two in ten managers intuitively know how to coach their employees. The rest need training and development to become effective manager-coaches.

To create a coaching culture that maximizes the impact of manager coaching on retention, engagement, and performance, consider the following actions:

  • Make the business case for coaching and ensure company leadership, managers, and employees recognize and support its value.
  • Promote and recognize managers who embrace the manager as coach mindset.
  • Adopt an affordable and scalable leadership development solution that teaches managers how to coach.

Coaches are Developed, Not Born

To truly reap the business benefits of a coaching culture, organizations must invest in upskilling managers – from the executive team to the frontline. Just tossing the phrase, “manager as coach,” around isn’t enough.

However, you can jumpstart your efforts with a modest investment in people development solutions tailored to your needs. IMPACT Group offers scalable coaching solutions, so you can afford to train even large numbers of frontline managers without breaking the budget. Contact us to learn more.