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Learning a Coach Approach to Managing

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By Liz Reyer

business_coach_team(MCT)–QUESTION: I’ve gotten feedback that, as a manager, I’m not very good at helping people develop their own solutions. It’s hard — it’s really easy for me to see what they should do, and it seems more efficient to just tell them. How can I start to shift my style?

ANSWER: Ask questions, then be quiet and listen.

It’s a common situation: People who are good at what they do are promoted. But they often do not receive much help in the transition between doing and helping others succeed. That’s the situation you’re in, and you should be proud of yourself for being willing to develop out of this rut.

Give yourself a break. Relax, take some deep breaths and let go of any anxiety over the situation. You’ll be able to learn the new skills you need, and being stressed about it will just hold you back.

There are a number of skills that go with having a more coach-style approach, including asking good questions and probing to help team members come up with their own solutions. You also need to be able to assess the risk of letting people make some mistakes. Assess your skills in these areas so you can plan your skill development.

Consider your current team culture. If you currently solve everyone’s problems, or even overrule their solutions with your own suggestions, you’ll all have some habits to break. Team members will need to relearn a certain amount of autonomy, and you’ll need to learn to back off — and to push them to identify solutions before they even come to you.

This is a great opportunity to practice transparency as a leader. Let your team know what you’re up to and why. They won’t be confused, and it can build a lot of engagement.

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