On any given day, the demands that managers face are enormous. Not only do they have to manage up to senior leaders; they have to manage down to their teams. They have to be attentive to executing on organizational strategy and priorities that are set by those above them, while they also have to be equally attentive to building the skills, talents and productivity of their own team. The middle-manager is deﬁnitely that: sandwiched in the middle.
How does a middle-manager navigate such a trap? Well, one answer is coaching the members of their team.
Coaching helps team members develop self-reliance and autonomy where they ﬁnd solutions to their own answers. It also allows employees the opportunity to grapple with problems while they’re coached toward solutions. Coaching also creates a motivational and stimulating atmosphere that steers employees toward peak performance. In short, coaching is an effective skill that all managers need to develop and use. So, by coaching employees, a manager can better equip their team to be productive, which frees up the demands on at least one part of that “middle” sandwich that managers contend with.
Admittedly, managers are squeezed for time. So, the obvious question is, “How in the world can I ﬁt in coaching sessions with each of my employees?” Yes, scheduling an actual coaching session may be ideal, but in reality, managers can simply infuse coaching into regular conversations with employees. I remind my clients that any conversation is an opportunity to coach an employee. It’s not limited to scheduled, one-on-one meetings, but for those everyday interactions at work, too. And in fact, those are the most powerful because they build on each other more quickly. I remind my clients that by simply infusing a few coaching skills into daily, routine conversations with employees, they will indeed end up coaching their team members toward greater productivity.