I had a recent college grad as a client, she struggled with her boss. Let’s call her Emma. Her boss was old school. He didn’t let her run with projects. He had to be in control every step of the way. It drove Emma nuts.
She had ideas that she couldn’t act on.
I asked her, “How did she feel when her boss took over?”
“Like he doesn’t trust me.”
“Do you think he trusts you?”
“Nope, but he doesn’t trust anybody.”
“Ahhh, that’s good to know. Why do you think that is?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s very frustrating.”
“What do you expect from him?”
“I expect that he trusts me. I work really hard and I’m good at my job, but he doesn’t seem to notice or even care.”
“Does he not care about you?”
“He does. He thanks me for my work. He has brought in donuts for my birthday, but he doesn’t let me do my work.”
“Do you think he will ever trust you?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Ok, how long do you think you’ll give him before you give up.”
“That’s a really good question. I’m not sure.”
“Would you be able to hang on for another 6 months?”
“Yeah, but I couldn’t do a full year.”
“That’s perfect. Ok, so now you have a timeline. What are you going to do if nothing changes?”
“I’ll look for another job.”
“Yes! There’s your opportunity!”
She laughed and said, “That was easier than I expected. I’m so energized. I’m going to start by reaching out to some friends to see if they’ve heard of any job openings.”
When I went back to asking questions I got much more interest from Emma. She processed everything so much easier. It takes a lot of discipline to notice when we go into advice mode when we should stay in question mode. In fact 90% of the time we should stay in question mode.
I’m sharing this with you because I’ve been coaching people for over 12 years and it was only after creating the Dig to Fly Method that it all clicked. We might see what they need to improve, but it’s up to them to understand it, so they take action.
You might know the old adage: Give a person a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
Being a great leader means giving them the tools to solve problems. Most people struggle with this part of their work because they aren’t empowered. They are afraid to be their authentic selves. They don’t want to make mistakes and they procrastinate instead of taking action.
I struggled with this for many years as a leader. I couldn’t get it through my thick head that I needed to ask questions instead of giving advice. Many leaders struggle to coach their employees because of many reason. As a leader we can’t let our egos get in the way of forming an open and honest relationship with our employees. Leaders fall in the trap of believing myths around building employee relationships that just aren’t true.
Here are the top 7 mistakes managers make when coaching their employees.
1. They aren’t curious.
Curious managers are the ones that give their employees the benefit of the doubt. We all want a manager that is willing to find out what is going on instead of jumping to conclusions. That’s why the willingness to be curious is so important. They are willing to find out what is going on and how they can help before they start making ultimatums.
2. They listen to talk.
A good manager listens before they jump in. They allow the other person to fully express themselves instead of trying to figure out when they can jump in and give advice. Being a good listener requires practice, self awareness and self discipline. Most people, let alone managers, don’t have this skill. It takes a lot of intention and reps to hone them so they are listening to understand before they speak.
3. They don’t go deeper.
A seasoned manager is willing to go deeper on a subject if they feel there is more to uncover. They want their employee to be willing to trust them. If they earn this trust the employee is willing to talk about their inner fears and worries. 90% of the time most of the issue is within the employee. It’s only 10% of the time that it’s an external obstacle that the manager can help with.
4. They go straight to advice.
A great manager doesn’t jump in and start spouting off advice. This is why the previous three are so important. They are curious and want to understand before they offer advice. An employee will often figure out their own issue if they have someone guiding them. Most employees have ideas of how to improve the situation, but they need to know that their manager wants them to take action on their problems instead of hiding from them.
5. They don’t make time to dig into their own thoughts and feelings.
The best managers make time to dig into their own thoughts and feelings so they grow their self awareness. The managers that journal, work with coaches, and utilize other mentors are willing to listen to feedback and grow from it. If they can’t learn to appreciate difficult feedback then they often don’t have the soft skills to give feedback that employees can learn from and utilize in their careers.
6. They don’t have a coaching process
Many good managers fail to make the leap to become a great manager because they don’t have a coaching system. This is one of the easiest things to implement as a manager. You need to have a vision for your coaching style and you need a process to help you get a deeper understanding of your employees. This helps you see the positive and negative patterns that spur your employee forward or hold them back. You have to help them leverage their strengths and navigate their weaknesses so they can be their best self at work. You can get the Dig to Fly coaching and journaling processes by signing up for Dig to Fly mindset and leadership updates to help you grow your career.
7. They don’t keep a journal or notes
There are some managers that can remember all the little details, but most do not. A great manager keeps a journal or notes on their employees. I had one mentor who would take notes on their employees throughout the week and then they would send out appreciation to his team on Friday mornings. He had the best employee retention rate in the whole organization.
What have you seen that works well for yourself or with leaders you worked with? Do you have a story or tip that you can share with me on Twitter or LinkedIn? I would love to hear what you’ve seen that works well.
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