I recently read an interesting article by Laura Vanderkam called Be a coach, not a teacher, where she makes some interesting points about managers' perceived commitment to their employees' success.
She quotes Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, as saying "coaches are specifically and explicitly on the student's side" working with them to help them develop and reach their potential.
Teachers on the other hand are seen to use assessments to "label people rather than to help them master concepts that will be relevant in succeeding in a very competitive world."
While these are generalizations, the overall message to managers is to behave more like coaches than teachers, especially when it comes to conducting employee performance reviews.
The article made me think of all the research in educational settings that has shown that a teacher's expectations affect their relationships with their students and influence student results.
Those same concepts can be carried over the work setting. When as managers, we label our employees, and carry certain expectations about their performance and potential, we may, though usually unconsciously, treat them differently, and influence their performance.
So stop and ask yourself:
Would your employees describe you as "being on their side" and "committed to their success"? Do you need to change your behaviors or even your fundamental approach to management so you can better support your employees' performance and success?
Ideas for effective employee performance coaching
Here are some ways you can demonstrate a commitment to your employees' success and "be on their side":
- Build a solid working relationship with each of your employees that is founded in mutual trust and caring.
- Maintain an ongoing, two-way dialogue about performance where you share expectations, provide coaching, answer questions, support employee performance, and solicit feedback on your own performance.
- Give your employees regular, ongoing feedback and coaching on their performance, focusing on desired behaviors and outcomes, and opportunities for development, not on "failures".
- Keep the focus of your formal performance reviews on shared expectations about work and performance, continued development and career progression, and contributions to organizational goals/success, not on ratings and rankings.
- Make sure the goals you assign your employees are achievable.
- Don't penalize employees for things that were beyond their control.
- Provide employees with ongoing development opportunities, both formal and informal.
- Engage in supporting your employees' career development and progression.
- Recognize and reward accomplishments, progress and success.
- Treat mistakes or less than desired results as learning opportunities rather than failures.
- Encourage the sharing of different opinions and perspectives, and value the differences.
- Help each employee to discover and bring their passion to their work.
- Work to see the potential in every one of your employees and help them to be their best.
What about employees?
Earlier this week Trish McFarlane asked, Are you coachable? and that got me thinking that employees need to take some ownership in building the coaching relationship as well. It brings to mind that parable of how you can bring a horse to water...
As Trish says, employees should not be afraid to seek out feedback and to understand how others perceive their performance. That kind of insight is gold if you, the employee, want to take charge of your development and advance your career.
Do you have any ideas for ways a manager can "be on their employees' side" and be committed to their success? What are your thoughts on the employee's role in the coaching relationship?
If you're interested in sharpening your skills as a manager, check out Performance management training for managers. You'll learn best practices for managing your employees' performance, development and career progression.