Whether you are a manager of a small team, or the CEO of a whole business, for you to be successful, your people—one, ten, or ten thousand—need to be successful. Our fundamental premise is clear: Many people who are struggling in their job are not sufficiently focused on the most essential, mission-critical business and cultural priorities that give them the most influence and impact. Instead, people do what they know, what reduces anxiety, or what they wish. Or they act in ways that are countercultural. Or both.
How managers can help their people is a book in itself. So, what we have provided is a primer: Bullet points on how you can help your people excel and shine, to your benefit, and your organization’s benefit. Most of what we are describing in this chapter can be summed up as “Coach more than supervise.” Managers acting as coaches to their team members is first and foremost an act of respect, which engenders respect. It is a core behavior of a high-performing executive. It is how you help others evolve, using your confidence in them to bring out their best:
- The first step in improving others’ influence and impact is finding out what their job really is supposed to be. If you take the time, you and your colleagues can tell them most of the information they need. Other information is best obtained by encouraging them to observe what people do, how they respond, who succeeds and who struggles. What are their essential priorities? Are they totally focused on those priorities? What do they need from their team? What does their team need from them?
- Help them know themselves better. For senior leaders, make sure they go through some type of formal development program. At a minimum, give them a 360° survey, so they understand how they are perceived by their team, their peers, and you.
- Help them know the business. Give them access to documents, including the organization’s mission, vision and purpose, business strategies, cultural norms and the like.
- Help them know you. What is it you really need from them to make you and the organization more successful? Give them a chance to observe you. Help them know what is most important to their stakeholders. Make sure they know what you need and expect.
- Clarify what success looks like. Imagine yourself taking them out for a celebratory dinner two years in and saying “I am so proud of the way you have delivered on your work. You have influenced others throughout the organization, and several people have commented to me on your impact.” Make sure your people understand the deliverables, including general objectives and more specific goals and outcomes—their impact on you and the team.
- Authority, responsibility, and accountability (ARA) are the critical elements of a manager–team member relationship. You grant them authority to do what is needed. They must take responsibility for the work. And both of you deal with accountability. You own the strategy and set the strategic guidelines. They own the execution of those strategies. The clearer your team members are, the more freedom they have to exercise their authority within those guidelines.
- Leaders inspire and enable others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. Great leaders bring out others’ self-confidence in the process by emphasizing confidence-building in their approach to the direction, authority, resource, and accountability aspects of delegation.
- Create both psychological safety and radical candor. It is essential that your people be able to influence you and have an impact on what you do and think. If they cannot question you or give you feedback without fear of embarrassment or retribution, how could they possibly influence anyone else?
- Trust is built on the little things you do multiple times a day. For example, sarcasm undermines trust. Why? Because sarcasm is inherently aggressive, and when you are in a power relationship, sarcasm is hard to interpret. Do they mean it? Are they joking?
- Show micro-interest. It is important for managers to understand the details of what their people are doing, even if they are consistently exceeding expectations. When you show interest in the details, you create opportunities for learning and growth, and create opportunities to provide positive feedback. And you demonstrate that you care about their work.
- Challenge them to do more than they think they can do.
- Help them evaluate their options and craft their go-forward plan to grow their influence and impact. Ensure they fill out both the Working Job Description template and the Personal Strategic Plan. These will guide them to grow.
- Work with them to compare their real strengths to the strengths required for success in the role. If the differences are minor and manageable, help them realize that and make adjustments. If the differences are complementary, make sure they know that you believe the differences are complementary through your words and actions. If the differences are mission-crippling, find ways to mitigate those issues.
- If the differences are insurmountable, collaborate to find a new path either inside or outside the organization.
Remember that leaders and managers succeed when their people are engaged, empowered, and focused. Helping your team members develop their influence and impact is the best way for you to expand your own influence and impact. The time devoted to helping them will return your investment multiple times over.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Influence and Impact: Discover and Excel at What Your Organization Needs From You The Most by Bill Berman and George Bradt. Copyright(c) 2021 by Bill Berman and George Bradt. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
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