February 2015

Listening to leaders share their frustrations about disappointing team performance is an every day occurrence. However, hearing leaders strategize and brainstorm about how to generate the performance they desire from their employees is a surprising rarity. 

According to a joint 2006 study by The Hackett Group and Human Resources Executive Magazineonly 17% of organizations have a formal learning and development strategy. A survey by Leadership IQ involving more than 70,000 employees in over 116 organizations found that only 31% of employees clearly understand their goals

Leaders are waiting for employees to perform while employees are waiting for leaders to tell them what they want and to provide the tools to get there. It's no wonder both parties are often unsatisfied. In this month's Performance Pointer we'll consider the difference between expecting performance (managing) and creating performance (coaching) and the impact each has on employee engagement. 


All the best,



Managing vs. Coaching

We'll take a look at a few fundamental differences between managing and coaching but first, let's consider what's at stake when a performance improvement focus is absent in an organization.

A recent study conducted by Leadership IQ uncovered these reality checks:
  • 87% of employees say that working with a low performer has made them want to change jobs.
  • 93% of employees say that working with a low performer has decreased their productivity.
  • Only 17% of middle managers say they feel comfortable improving or removing low performers.
  • Only 14% of senior executives say their company effectively manages low performers.

Clearly employees are significantly impacted by this hands-off, watch-and-see performance culture, yet leaders feel unequipped to do anything about it. But, does the absence of a performance improvement strategy just affect the low or average performers? According to the same study, 47% of top performers are actively looking for other jobs (submitting resumes and going on interviews) while only 18% of low performers are actively looking for other jobs. 

So how does a company move from just expecting performance to creating performance? The first step is to understand the difference between managing and coaching and then acknowledge which one is driving your leadership culture.

Task Focused vs. Talent Focused
To manage an employee requires an understanding of their job functions and expectations, job description boundaries, and productivity minimums. However, coaching-to-create-performance requires an in-depth understanding of the person and their unique motivation factors, talents, interests, and development needs. One is focused on the inner workings and needs of the job, while the other is guided by the inner workings and needs of the person doing the job. A talent focus is based on the belief that a job is merely what the person makes of it. Like a race car without any gas or a great job without the talent to match - what's the point? 

Reactive vs. Proactive
In a managing mindset, training and development is often turned to as the answer for dealing with less than desirable performance. Employees are counseled on their skill deficiencies and warned about the consequences of not improving. Performance development is associated with punishment. "Since you continue to fail to meet expectations, I'll now have to focus on doing whatever it takes to pull you up to standards."  Conversely, coaching is a strengths-centered approach, where training and development is a perk for low, average, and high performers. It is designed to enhance everyone's performance, not just fix the broken ones.

Directive vs. Collaborative
Contrary to common belief, coaching is not about having the right answers, it's about asking the right questions. In a managing mentality, development is an extension of oversight and measurement. When one fails to meet expectation, alignment is sought through careful explanation of how they are missing the mark and instructions on how to remedy the situation. On the other hand, a coach understands that in order to create lasting change the development process must be collaborative. 

"What are some of the challenges you've been dealing with?" "What resources do you need that you feel are missing?" "What are your goals in this area?" "How do these performance goals contribute to your professional growth and career path?" "How can I be of support to you?" These are some common questions you will hear when coaching-to-create-performance is taking place.Managing is manager-centered, getting employees to reach your goals. Coaching is employee- centered, helping employees reach their goals. By connecting into what's-in-it-for-them, you transform obligation into engagement, employee into owner.

Where do you stand on the managing vs. coaching distinction? How would your team rate you on these areas? What holds you back from creating the results you desire? 

By expecting instead of inspiring, ignoring instead of intervening, or instructing instead of asking, organizations are losing the keepers and keeping the losers. Today's the day to ask, which one are you - manager or coach?





"A coach understands that in order to create lasting change, the development process must be collaborative."

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