There are hundreds of books on management, and even more articles, tips, advice, and research studies from places like Gallup and Harvard and Google. And any new manager would be wise to dig into it, soaking up all the learning you can as you step out on this new precipice of leadership.
First of all, let me say congratulations on the new expanded role. The moment the shift happens from being a "star performer" to becoming a "coach" is an important one.
It is general practice at companies all over the country to move our “A” players up – to promote them – otherwise, how do we keep them challenged and engaged? Doing this is a best practice because it also creates a leadership pipeline. The vast majority of people will be promoted to manager for being good at their jobs. However, their jobs will change overnight, yet most receive little to no training in this new job... but of course they are expected to produce the same great results they did as a star player.
The thing is-- they aren't a player anymore. Now they are a coach.
To realize how difficult this is, look at professional sports teams. It is very rare that star performers make good coaches. The best coaches have played the game, but usually come to coaching having struggled more than the giants of the sport. This struggle gives them empathy and understanding for players that need support, guidance, and sometimes motivation. For example, Steve Kerr was a good player when he played for the Chicago Bulls, but he was no Michael Jordon or Scottie Pippin. Yet, Steve Kerr is now a great coach of the Golden State Warriors. This quote of his sums up the difference: "It's different as a coach because you feel responsible for a lot of people. Even though you don't take a shot, you don't get a rebound, you feel like you just want people to succeed, and you want to help them any way you can."
So, how do you beat the odds and move from player to coach successfully? Here are a few tips to think about as you get started:
- Before You Even Get That Promotion: Companies can provide ongoing management training to employees even before they are managers – leadership is a state of mind and you can start that right from the beginning. Anyone looking to progress in their career should start training for the job of their future now. That way the learning curve is much quicker.
- Once You Get Promoted: The first thing you should ask yourself when you get promoted and now have even just one person you are responsible is this: Am I just as committed to this person’s success as I am to my own? Because if you think that you are going to continue to DO everything the same, to DO everything that got you this promotion in the first place then I've got news for you: YOU WILL FAIL. The corporate world is littered with failed managers who used to be star salespeople or fantastic project managers but could not shift fast enough into their new role as leader. Instead, their careers stall out and these once awesome employees just slip into mediocrity. This does not have to be your fate.
- As You Move Forward In Your Role As Coach: With this new role of coach then you need to get a new playbook. Your previous playbook might have included what you needed to do to reach targets, retain customers, grow business, report on company success and charm prospective clients, but the new coach playbook needs to focus on:
- Crafting a clear vision with goals and provide direction. Always connect your objectives and projects to the deeper organizational “Why” and provide context around decisions
- Growing Emotional Intelligence. Be authentic and ask for help; own mistakes when you make them
- Having consistent touchpoints and regularly planned meetings, both as a team and one on one
- Communicating with your team regularly about their performance. Remember: Feedback is a gift. Recent studies show that 65% of people crave more feedback from their bosses.
- Removing roadblocks from their path and making sure to give them credit for the work they are doing, especially publicly. Recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work. It has been proven that when it comes to inspiring people to be their best at work, nothing else comes close to recognition—not even higher pay.
- Practicing Appreciation. Listen to them and find ways to let them know that they are valued. Employees that are listened to by their managers report getting great feedback from those same managers. Turns out that listening translates to feedback and appreciation.
As you think about these tips, remember that "Manager" is a title, but great leadership is both an art and a craft. Like art, leadership can move people emotionally; it validates them and resonates with them on a deeper level. And, like a craft, leadership can be learned, structured, and replicated, and it gets better with practice and experience.
In your new role as coach, look at how to take innate talents and emotional intelligence and match them to learning around ways to manage processes, and support people’s growth. In doing so you will create a winning combination and immense value for everyone.
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