The Secret to Working Less is Coaching More

In today’s business environment, where there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get things done, the concept of “working less” seems like an impossible dream. Everyone seems to be stretched too thin. Days fly by. There are impatient customers, demanding employees and reports due for corporate. Teaching people and helping them grow is not a priority when so much is asked of managers. Companies hire experienced originators because they believe there is no time to properly coach the sales staff.

“Coaching” is a word that strikes fear in the heart of managers because they understand they should do it but executing it is a different matter altogether. Unfortunately, coaching a great buzz word that is used by managers but rarely implemented by them on a daily basis.

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s excellent book, The Coaching Habit, he discusses three tactical methods to be an effective coach. Stanier states that while helping others may seem like the right strategy when dealing with your team, it can have unintended consequences if you don’t coach correctly. These include:

  1. Creating overdependence. Stanier states the more you help your people, the more they seem to need your help. What? Isn’t that your job to help people get better? When managers fall into this trap of always jumping in and taking over they are risk for becoming a bottleneck. Sound familiar? I see this all the time with managers where there is a lot of telling and no actual coaching to develop others.
  2. Getting overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is prevalent today in managing circles. From answering endless emails to being driven by the constant ping of a smartphone, many managers are perpetually and continuously distracted which can make managers feel overwhelmed.
  3. Becoming Disconnected. Stanier makes another key point that being disconnected is rooted in managers just getting work done and not being engaged in what they are doing. Stanier says that the less engaged we are, the less likely we are to find and create great work. Great work is what changes businesses and sales results. Average work is all about maintaining the status quo.

What is the solution to doing great work as a manager?

Stanier says that by increasing your sales staff’s autonomy and sense of mastery and by reducing your tendency to be the go-to person in your group for every issue, managers can create a more self-sufficient, productive environment.

Stanier recommends that managers make coaching a part of their day by creating teachable moments with your sales team. It all starts with asking several key questions that can change the employee discussion to a development opportunity. By having more development moments, the manager effectively works less by coaching more. I think Stanier is right and every manager should incorporate his recommendations in their employee interactions.