Usually a survey of managers about what they think they do and a survey of workers about what managers actually do yield wildly different results. Not this time.
Human Resource Executive (7/24/14) reported on a CNN survey that asked people what characterized the best bosses. Here are the top three things.
- Respect and appreciate their employees
- Create trust and support
- Give employees the backing and resources to do their jobs
Meanwhile, at the HBR site (7/25/14), Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, said this in their post headlined “Most Managers Think of Themselves as Coaches.”
“As a manager, do you think of yourself as a leader or as a coach? Do you, for instance, feel it’s important that your staff see you as an expert or do you prefer to create an egalitarian environment? Are you the person who solves problems or helps your staff come up with their own solutions? Are you more comfortable being directive or collaborative?
Results of a survey we’ve been conducting indicate a stronger desire to display coaching attributes than we were expecting.”
But before you fall over in stunned amazement, you should know that the headline is a little misleading. Zenger and Folkman weren’t asking what the managers actually did. They asked what the managers wanted to do. And there’s often a gap between what a manager wants to do and what he or she does.
I still see this as a positive, though. It tells me that the attitudes of managers are starting to catch up with what their team members want. The challenge for leadership development is to help managers develop the coaching skills that will result in both good performance and high morale. Here are three things you can do.
Select managers who like helping others succeed
Start with good raw material. People who like helping others succeed will relish developing coaching skills.
Make coaching part of the official job
In too many places, coaching is something a manager does after the “real work” is done. Link coaching performance to praise, pay, and promotion.
Help them develop their skills
Coaching skills don’t develop by accident. Provide resources, training, and, yes, coaching to help managers develop and maintain coaching skills.