Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You a Manager? Or a Coach?

Watching my son play basketball last night reminded me of my days as a coach. I've coached 1st graders in basketball, 3rd graders in flag football and spent several years as a head and assistant high school swim coach. I would have to say those were some of the most fulfilling jobs I've ever had. And the high school swim coaching jobs were the only ones I ever got any money for.

I just finished reading The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, by Daniel Coyle and it got me to thinking of how important the job of coaching really is. Anyone who has risen to the top of their game, be it football, golf, music or even accounting, has had the help of a coach. They may not have been called a coach by title, but someone was there coaching them along.

You see, a coach's job is to help people find the things they are doing that do work and emphasize and encourage them, find the things that don't work and fix them and to tap into the inner spark to keep people motivated to keep at it. When I was a swim coach I spent hours walking up and down the pool deck encouraging swimmers when they were doing things right. I'd stop them at the wall and point out something they needed to improve. But it was never the same thing for all of them. Every swimmer was unique. Each one had different areas to improve. All of them needed to know what they were doing right. And they all required something different to keep them motivated.

As I was thinking about all of this I realized I had just discovered what I need in a manager. But most managers today don't act this way. They come to the office with a "one size fits all" method of management. Once a year they sit us down and tell us what's going right and where we need to improve. They call it a "performance review". And it doesn't work!

Coaches are constantly praising and correcting. They know what the team's goals and milestones are, but they are focused on making each individual a better performer. By making each individual better, the team improves. When the team gets better, the goals and milestones take care of themselves. We don't need more managers in business today, we need more coaches. Coaching is NOT an easy job. It's hard. But when you watch each individual on your team get better everyday under your tutelage, there's not a better feeling in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment