by Mike Neill

Coaching is NOT the Same as Managing- It’s So Much Better!

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Has this ever happened at your credit union? You promoted someone to loan supervisor because of their operational proficiency, determination and great attitude. Only to realize they lacked the innate ability to motivate staff, change behavior and hold people accountable. After two years, loan goals aren’t being met, the “new” supervisor is burnt out and employees are increasingly disengaged.  How and why did this happen? It happened because the loan supervisor needed training on how to coach employees not manage them.

Many times, the most effective managers are not the ones with the most technical skills. They are ones with the ability to improve employee performance and transform the credit union’s bottom-line. 

This doesn’t mean you should go out and fire all of your operationally-savvy managers. It means that many of your managers simply need training on how to coach employees. Coaching is different from management in two very significant ways:

  1. Coaching is about people while management is about process.
  2. Coaching is about improving behaviors while management is about improving outcomes.

Good coaching training ensures that your managers understand six essential strategies to help employees reach their highest potentials. 

Teach- Effective managers show employees how to improve their performance. Think about an athletic coach. A great track coach shows a runner how to run faster by changing his/her technique. That’s what effective coaches do. In business, we teach our players or our employees, to be more effective. In order to do this, effective managers study each employee’s technique and then shows them how to improve performance.

Communicate- Effective coaches know what to say when to say it and how to say it. Good coaches listen more than they talk, while ineffective managers do a great job of talking and excel at one-way communication. Good coaches want players to understand the game plan. As a manager, you want to ensure employees understand the purpose, goals, and objectives of all credit union initiative. This understanding and buy-in require two-way communication. You can’t coach by e-mail and text. You’ve got to interact face-to-face with the people you’re coaching.

Set high standards- Effective managers get their satisfaction from knowing that they set and held high-performance standards and that their commitment to excellence helped push employees to the next level of performance. The credit union’s success is their success.

Maximize each person’s talent- Effective managers don’t say: “Your cross-selling totals are great, so it’s okay if you’re not very accurate when balancing your cash drawer.” Good coaching requires that you recognize employees’ strengths and weaknesses and offer support so they can develop their skills across the board.

You will never be done coaching. Ever. You’re always working to develop the employee and prepare them for the next level or opportunity.

Create a team - Effective coaches create unity and a combined vision. I’ve played on many teams in my life, and it’s rare when all the players like everyone on the team. But even when we weren’t all great friends, our coaches taught us how to play as a team. They expected us to respect our teammates, recognize their contributions and hold them accountable. That’s what effective managers do. They create a team that doesn’t necessarily start with a group of people who all know and like each other. Sometimes personalities are divergent, talents differ, and communication styles vary widely, but the team respects each other and work together toward a common goal

Motivate- Effective coaches figure out which employees have the capacity to be motivated and identify how to motivate them. Effective coaches know how to unlock what motivates employees. For some people it’s recognition, for some it’s money, and for some, it’s the opportunity to learn something new. Other employees just love a challenge—doing something that others said couldn’t be done. Effective coaches identify these motivational switches and use them to increase performance and profitability.

In lifeguard training, you learn that when you’re attempting to rescue someone who is drowning, there is a chance you will have to let the swimmer go if you are being pulled under yourself. It’s the same with coaching. You can motivate and coach the vast majority of employees to become better performers. However, in the rare case of an employee that can’t be motivated, the best solution is to fire him or her and move on. Otherwise, you’ll both drown.