I love asking managers to list all the critical conversations they need to have throughout their careers. Their list of responses are always relevant, regardless of the company I’m working with or the team of managers I’m coaching to become transformational leaders. And yet, practically every response they share focuses on handling challenges or fixing problems. Consequently, managers are consistently stepping over and failing to recognize the most powerful coaching moments right in front of them.
You Just Missed the Train to Coaching Success
Since the majority of managers focus on what’s not working or what needs to change in order to achieve aggressive goals and business objectives, they act like heat seeking missiles. Managers are conditioned to search for, identify, and eradicate any problems in their path to greater success. Why? Because managers love to fix things because they believe that’s the value they bring to their team.
The greater cost here is, managers miss out on so many opportunities to coach people around a win or the positive behavior they’ve observed that needs to be reinforced. Conversely, they focus more time on what their people need to do differently or do better. Essentially, managers focus on failures and what’s not working, rather than successes. And it’s no surprise why. They receive the exact same kind of pressure from their boss and that pressure, which is modeled from the top, then continues to roll downhill.
Here’s a common example. A salesperson just closes a big deal. They’re excited and can’t wait to share this win with their manager. And when they do, the manager’s first visceral response is, “Great job! But what about the other deals in your pipeline that aren’t closing this quarter? So, let’s focus on the deals you’re struggling to close.”
While the manager’s intentions may be to help their direct report, herein lies a defining moment for any manager. In that very instance, this manager just missed out on a powerful coaching opportunity to further develop their people’s talents and reinforce the best practices, thinking, and strategies that made them successful!
If managers are always focused on the problems and what’s not working, then how do your people recognize the things they do that are working? Think about how this affects the disposition, morale, and focus of your team? If you’re focusing on the negative, what’s going wrong, or what’s not good enough, then what are you modeling for your team? Subsequently, what do you think your people are going to be focusing on when speaking with you, their peers, and customers? The greater cost here is, consider the culture and environment you are now developing within your team