Every manager, no matter how talented, can benefit from a coach who provides an objective, confidential, and knowledgeable sounding board. This is particularly true in high tech where so many managers rise through the ranks quickly and arrive in new roles without the years of seasoning and training that managers in other industries may have received.
Coaching can be useful in a range of situations: For the manager who has just stepped up to a new level that requires a different set of skills; for rising stars who need accelerated development; and for the promising manager who is being held back by one or two areas of weakness.
Outcomes include enhanced performance and confidence. For many this can mean the difference between success and failure in their current role. For one talented manager who had stalled in his career it meant resolving the issues that had held him back, leading to a long awaited promotion.
Long term clients call me when they are struggling to get traction on a critical issue. They have the ability to solve the problem without bringing a consultant into their organization, but they need an opportunity to talk through the options with someone they trust. After a focused coaching session they are able to take decisive action toward resolving the issue.
How I Work
I typically start by meeting with the manager to clarify his or her goals. (By now this step should sound familiar! No matter what service you ask for, we always start by getting clear on what a successful outcome would look like for you.) Often the managers boss will bring me in and that person may have some specific goals, but I dont have the complete picture until I know what the manager wants for him or herself. Are they targeting a promotion? Are they in a new role and anxious about stepping up to new challenges? Has their career been stalled for reasons they dont understand or cant resolve? Are they looking to re-evaluate their career direction?
Assessment is usually the next step. The manager usually has some clear ideas of the issues they need to work on, but almost everyone has a few blind spots and 360° feedback is an excellent way to flesh out both the strengths and the development areas. Feedback usually includes some standardized forms as well as one-on-one interviews with boss, peers and direct reports. Once Ive gathered the feedback, I meet with the manager to walk through the data and draft a development plan.
Most development plans include a mix of courses, reading, stretch assignments and one-on-one coaching. My focus here is to make sure the plan can really make a difference in performance and is do-able for a busy manager.
In regular coaching sessions I help the manager keep momentum on the plan and help him or her think through current issues. Current issues might include building alignment in the managers team, navigating organizational politics, preparing an important presentation, handling a difficult employee, managing upwards, launching a new initiative, or resolving conflict. Each session starts with a review of what is on the managers mind so that the coaching is always focused on what is most important to the manager.