3 Ways to Turn Managers Into Coaches

Work is already busy enough.

Most of your managers don’t have time to invest in themselves as leaders. They’re running a team, and as long as everything stays on track, they don’t want to hassle their reports too much.

After all, nobody likes a micro-manager.

But frequent feedback is key to helping employees be successful in their work and to expand their knowledge. Rather than delegating, managers who act as coaches are able to guide and drive repeated behavior by recognizing good work. This is what sets apart a true leader from a manager.

How can you inspire your managers to take that step towards being a great leader? We asked a group of HR experts to tell us their best tactic for turning managers into coaches.

1. Listening


There are lots of people in organizations who are promoted into management roles because of their subject-matter expertise. Many of these people have never received any sort of people management training, so I always like to start with the basics. One of the foundations of coaching is listening. I remind managers that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I also give them strategies for active and reflective listening skills.

It’s important to remember that we need to meet employees where they are developmentally. Managers can guide the conversation by asking probing questions, rather than just giving directives. The best solutions are often those that the employee devises for himself/herself.

Managers also need to remember that coaching isn’t a “one and done” proposition. There needs to be a conversation about mutually agreed upon goals and action steps. The best managers are those that help develop the employee and let them try to complete the work without micro-management. The manager should work with the employee to create the action plan with measurable steps and built-in follow-up.

– Amanda Haddaway, Managing Director, HR Answerbox

2. Communicate Goals

leadership and purpose

When training managers to be coaches it is important to guide them in two areas. The first is how to be effective communicators.

The second is getting them to understand what their team member’s goals are and then connecting that goal to the organizations overall mission and strategy. People are driven and engaged when they feel that what they are doing has a meaningful purpose. It is one of the top motivators for engaging your workforce; so educating your managers on how best to communicate with their teams to learn what motivates them, what their goals are and take an active interest in equating how what they are learning and doing in the day to day operations of the organization helps drive results, increases engagement and promotes productivity.

When managers learn how to have these coaching conversations it allows for a deeper relationship between the manager and the team member and allows them to become better leaders.

– Dawn Cacciotti, Engage HR Now

3. Job Shadowing

While there are many methods and choices for coach training, my preference is the technique known as ‘job shadowing’, wherein the coach trainee is mentored by a proven, successful manager. This mentoring process allows the real-life situations, strategies and solutions to be experienced by the trainee as they occur. The reason I favor this approach with my clients is that the experience and coaching opportunities are specific to their industry, rather than generic coaching methods that are taught traditionally.

– Toni Young, JobMatters

Want to join the HR Roundtable and contribute insight to a monthly hot topic in HR innovation? Email dani@reflektive.com for more information.