The mindset of a coach-like manager

A coach-like manager is someone who believes in their team, even when it’s hard.

One day I had to give feedback to a participant on a train the trainer programme, let’s call them Kelly.

Kelly had just delivered a practice training session and it was bad. Like, I wasn’t going to let them train people for real, bad.

I started the feedback as I always do by asking them what went well.

Unsurprisingly Kelly struggled to come up with anything, instead going into everything that went wrong. There was no need for me to tell them how bad the session was, they knew.

My role wasn’t to make them feel even worse, it was to help them improve. So even though I wasn’t sure how much they could get better I decided to focus only on what went well.

We talked about how they could make more of their strengths and I gave them encouragement and showed them I believed they could do it.

The next day Kelly tried again, this time playing to their strengths – and the improvement was significant.

They weren’t going to win any training awards but I had confidence they would be able to train new staff without confusing them or putting them to sleep!

The takeaway here for you is that what you expect of your team members will influence their performance. Expect more and you’ll get more; expect less and that’s what you’ll get.

These aren’t absolutes, of course; if you expect too much you could be setting someone up to fail. I just want you to consider, if you have an underperforming team member, what role you might be playing in that.

Whether you mean it to or not, the way you think and feel about someone does influence the way you interact with them. As a character in Marilee Adams’ leadership fable Change Your Questions, Change Your Life says, ‘[N]obody does their best work when their boss is expecting the worst from them.’

I’d love to hear your stories of a time someone believed in you more than you believed in yourself. What did they do? How did it make you feel?

Image Description: Child in a black t-shirt holding a ceramic mug that says see the good. The child is blurred in the background. 

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