The Responsible Manager: The importance of Coaching & Mentoring skills
In most organizations, we tend to use the words “Coaching” and “Mentoring” interchangeably – in reality through these are very different interventions. Mentoring focuses on knowledge & expertise sharing of a highly skilled person with another as part of a 1:1 or group learning. Coaching focuses on facilitating an individual transformation/breakthroughs through personal insights gained through the coaching facilitation. Let us look at how these skills can empower managers.
Managers and People Engagement
The classical definition of a ‘Manager’ was one with an ability to engage & manage people effectively and lead them efficiently as a work unit. In current organizational formats, ‘People Manager’ is a more apt term defining managers who are people engagement savvy whereas other peer roles could have a higher technical / product / functional content and stakeholder group engagement.
People engagement and management becomes more challenging as reporting spans expand to skip levels as managers are measured on team level norms of productivity, output and performance. If the manager is ‘disengaged’ it can result in either a diffused culture or even multiple ‘power centres’ which can result in frequent ‘hijacking’ of the team’s agenda and eventually affecting performance.
Measuring Organizational effectiveness
When we consider the quality of managers as an overall peer group of an organization, there are a few parameters which can make or inhibit organization effectiveness. This has become more relevant today considering the virtually dispersed and dis-aggregated team structures which needs managers of today to be savvier on newer methods of people engagement.
Traditionally organizational effectiveness was measured in terms of structures, communication, rewards and decision structures which defined the everyday informal and formal governance of an organization through its managerial hierarchy. Today these boundaries have shifted as younger employees seek more operational independence from traditional management hierarchies and rules forcing organizations to put systems that can control employee actions through monitoring work patterns and outcomes.
Mentoring and Coaching Interventions
New age managers need to consider Mentoring and Coaching skills as both of these offer excellent opportunities to engage with people while giving people the freedom they desire. What was once the bastion of ‘senior managers’ is now a necessary skill for front line and mid managers as well since it offers a much better range of options than just a functional hierarchy of instructions and commands.
At the core of Mentoring and Coaching is the ability to socialize, connect and harmonize with people creating better people to people bonding. The other advantage is to leverage the technique to understand people behaviours which are very useful to a manager to calibrate how people would respond to certain situations. Once the basics are learnt, Mentoring and Coaching can also be used as an informal interventions rather than too much structure which is relevant in today’s fast changing organizational environments which needs more regular & informal feedback.
The Responsible Manager – A Coach & a Mentor
The toughest aspect of a manager’s life cycle is to bring his team to his performance level and expectations – this is the core ‘responsibility’ that sits on a manager’s shoulder all the time. Considering that a manager’s 50% time goes into people engagement and management, playing a role of a Coach or a Mentor depending on the situation will help the manager progressively delegate and empower people every day in small baby steps. Thus, by engaging regularly with people in their individual and group capacities, such interventions can make managers transition faster into leaders.
Last but not the least, a few words on Emotional Intelligence – Coaching and Mentoring beyond the tools and techniques demands the human touch which requires an emotional connect between the manager and the team members. If this is kept in mind while on boarding managers into Coaching and Mentoring, the results can be more visible in terms of quality of relationships, better listening, better team synergy and eventually happier workplaces that are defined by love and trust between people as the core values.