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January 8, 2024 Industry Outlook | Human Resources

Empowering teams for the long run: transitioning to a coaching management model

Kathie McCarthy

In today’s workplace, managers grapple with the challenge of nurturing and maintaining employee engagement, a task made more complex in the hybrid or remote work settings that are increasingly commonplace.

Keeping employees engaged in their work has become a pressing concern for businesses.

Recent trends in employee engagement are disconcerting, with a notable decline in the United States.

According to Gallup, employee engagement peaked at 36% in 2020, decreased to 32% in 2022, and further diminished to 31% in 2023.

This downward trend in engagement signals a clear message to organizations: It’s time to pivot toward a coaching model, moving away from traditional performance reviews.

Coaching mindset

A coaching approach prioritizes development, equipping leaders to offer more profound growth opportunities for their teams.

This structured framework helps employees go from where they are, to where they want to be.

So, what does coaching in the workplace entail? As described by the Harvard Business Review, coaching in the workplace is “a style of management primarily characterized by asking questions that help employees not only meet their immediate responsibilities, but also enhance their long-term professional development.”

Embracing the role of a coach leader can significantly enhance team development for managers.

Utilizing coaching skills enables managers to prompt their team members to approach problems with fresh perspectives and embrace innovative thinking.

Adopting a coaching mindset allows managers to challenge and support their team members and instigate curiosity and accountability, fostering progress.

In the analogy of athletics, a manager might be likened to a sprinter, concentrated on the immediate tasks at hand, while a coach leader is akin to a marathon runner, invested in their team’s long-term development and success, training diligently for the ultimate success.

The adoption of a coaching model is particularly effective in talent retention, as coached employees tend to feel more appreciated and aligned with the company’s values and purpose, leading to increased loyalty and a reduced likelihood of turnover.

In the dynamics of coaching, the coachee is empowered, holding the reins of their development, while the coach leader provides guidance, affirmation and constructive feedback.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that the coachee is responsible for applying what they’ve learned to their work.

Effective feedback systems

Transitioning to a coaching model requires time, energy and a shift in mindset toward growth and development.

This shift can present unique challenges, particularly in hybrid or remote work environments, where building a cohesive culture and creating learning opportunities without in-person interaction requires a more deliberate approach.

Additionally, crafting effective feedback systems is essential to ensure team members receive the guidance they need to thrive.

In today’s professional landscape, managers must evolve beyond merely directing tasks.

To flourish, they must cultivate a growth mindset and a capacity for learning, reinventing themselves as coaching leaders who inspire creativity and drive within their teams.

Kathie McCarthy is an accredited certified coach and serves as a human resources director and advisor at Hartford-based accounting and consulting firm Whittlesey.

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