Dear Travel Coach
I am responsible for a group of thirty shops. I was having a drink with one of the managers and she said that my style was wrong and that I should be more like a coach and less like a boot. What does she mean?
This is a lengthy subject, but I’ll summarise it to enable you get a basic idea of what coaching is, and more importantly – how to implement it. Implementation is the key because business coaching is very much a doing rather than a thinking skill.
Your colleague was commenting on your overall management style. You probably use phrases like “If you do what I say, you won’t go far wrong” or “Don’t question me, I’m the boss”. In the modern working environment people who once said little are now “allowed” (empowered/encouraged) to express their thoughts and feelings, and although as their manager you may find this challenging, you will find that in the long run that everyone benefits.
Firstly, think of all the people who work for you as capable beings. Next, see your job as someone who has not only to find these capabilities but also to bring them to the fore. You will find that instead of giving orders you are asking questions. So if a booking agent is having problems in locating a file, resist the temptation to get the file yourself (or shout at her), but keep asking her to go through the filing process until she teaches herself where it is. The process may be slow, but ultimately you will save time because your people will learn more about their job and about themselves.
I read an article that said that as a manager I should spend more time coaching my staff – but if I do this I’ll have no time for other things like the accounts.
What’s your view?
You make a good point, if you run a small enterprise you are responsible for finance, information technology, operations and marketing. My view though is that without the people, there is no company and so they have to be regarded as the main asset. A coaching approach (as described above) is the best way to get more out of them.
To coach well and to find time for the other important tasks, try to develop a “hands-off” approach.
Start by taking some one to one sessions with the staff. Establish who has good people skills and then get them to take over the coaching. You should also encourage all the people to support each other. Your time will be tight at the beginning, but will improve after a few weeks.
You should find that a culture will grow whereby your staff look out for each other and by you helping them to select areas for improvement, will all develop together too. Keep yourself within the process too – even a coach needs coaching.