One of my manager coaches in training asked me this question: what motivates the manager as coach? He went on to observe that if the manage as coach is acknowledging the contributions of employees that originate through his suggestive questions, at what point does that manager as coach need recognition?
A serious self-confidence moment ensued. I explained that if the manager as coach was authentic about his role he would understand that his role, in those instances, was to “build a firm foundation,” understanding that the foundation was and still is people.
No matter what business we are in, I explained, we are in the people business. In order for our business to experience maximum performance we need to ensure that our people are able to maximize their contributions to themselves and to the business. We also need to maximize our efforts to understand each other’s perspectives, motivations, standards, and personalities.
Certainly the manager as coach role might appear, at first glance, to diminish the apparent stature of the manager, resulting in a question of confidence. But as I continued the discussion with this manager he thought that there was a more subtle reason for this being important.
He wondered if asking or inquiring of an employee his perspective, his motivation, his professional standards – in a way that is comfortable, unassuming, respectful and sincere shows respect for that other person? I certainly thought so, I said, because it showed respect and caring about that employee and helped to create a strong interpersonal bond between the manager and employee that, once created, would be difficult to disassemble.
As our discussion progressed he asked how he would best understand the perspectives, motivations, standards, and personalities of his employees, since they are all quite different. He wondered if the diagnostic profiles he used to understand his own perspectives would be useful in understanding those of his employees. Of course these types of profiles absolutely applied, but I encouraged him to get back to the original conversation on suggestive questioning.
The development of an effective manager as coach to employee communication process requires a constant effort and focus to create and to then maintain a setting within the business where managers and their employees understand and embrace that it is acceptable to ask questions, to advance ideas without fear of recrimination, and to maintain that setting through a systematic approach so that the employees’ perspectives, motivations, standards, and personalities can build that firm foundation.
So what motivates a manager as coach I asked? He told me his motivations were best focused on making sure he created a dynamic and healthy communication process to build that firm foundation and that coaching was a huge part of that process.