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Managers: Unlocking Coaching-Mentoring-Sponsoring Relationships

Sep 14, 2020

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Nancy Fredericks

Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

Wow, is it tough going for a manager today! Never before, in my memory, has more pressure been put on a manager—not to mention the higher expectations of their employees. You’re facing all of this with reduced budgets and even less time to acquire mastery for meeting today’s challenges.

Daily you run into one nightmare breakdown after another, often without an accountable, engaged workforce owning the solutions themselves. Each of your people has gaps in their performance, leaving you little choice but to work harder and longer hours. 

How do you fill this gap? You recognize better than I that there is no guarantee hiring “golden employees” is the answer. The reality is that developing and unlocking the untapped abilities of your staff is mission-critical for your success.

And yet, how ironic is that when SHRM tells us that 93 percent of managers need training in coaching employees?

Let’s crack open this topic a bit to see if you can identify valuable insights for yourself.

Three areas generate vast workforce improvements, yet the good news is that they won’t add one thin dime to your budget—Unlocking the Potential of Coaching—Mentoring—Sponsoring Relationships for your people.

First, coaching: Without question, one-on-one developmental meetings are the most powerful assessment tool a manager can strap on to their management tool belt. Unfortunately, many muddy the coaching waters handicapping the employee’s hoped-for turn-around. 

What do I mean by this? There has to be a demarcation between performance and coaching exchanges. Often this line is blurred. Yes. These interactions can be sociable yet, of necessity, are initiated from your positional authority and are more directive, results-oriented in nature. 

On the other hand, coaching isn’t an official corrective discussion. Instead, they center on pearls of wisdom conversations where your employee’s mind opens to see possibilities they never saw before. Or perhaps it is considering a new skill not essential for today’s work, but preparation for tomorrow. Or it could be you assisting your employee in achieving their aspirations with less effort and more joy. It isn’t so much a boss-subordinate interaction as it is someone wiser, more familiar with the organization’s culture reaching out with a helping hand. 

Creating a distinction between corrective and potential discussions is crucial. Hold your coaching meetings in a more neutral setting than your office. If you’re unable to do that, do not take a seat behind your desk. Instead, pull up a chair and sit side-by-side. This approach signals a shift from a boss into a trusted advisory role. And don’t jump from authority into coaching in the same sit-down. Establish a distinct construct between the two exchanges, so your employee has clarity from the get-go.   

Second, mentoring: Mentoring is a career expanding conversation with someone other than a direct supervisor. And you’re critical to this relationship equation. You know your employee’s dreams, hopes, strengths, and weaknesses better than anyone in the organization—even Human Resources! As such, orchestrate mentoring relationships with executives who have the wherewithal to be a role model able to educate and refine your employee. 

When you’re creating connections for your people, consider crossing borders and functional operations. You know as well as I that companies are looking for employees who are not merely growing within one silo. Rather, today’s competitive marketplace prizes those who have a broad-ranging grasp of the entire company.

Third, sponsoring: Sponsoring is you strategically introducing your talented, high-potential future leaders to the most influential senior executives in your company. These leaders move careers into high-gear with little effort. They have the authority to help your employees gain insight into strategy, future needs of the organization, introduce them to key players, assign cross-functional projects all offering professional visibility, and so much more. 

Why would your C-suite executives willingly sponsor one of your employees? Preparing leaders for the future is one of their most important roles. And you, by your selflessness, receive a plus on your scorecard as well. 

Why is it worth your time and attention to Unlock Coaching-Mentoring- Sponsoring Relationship with your valued employees? Can I count the reason? Let’s call out a few.

  • It sets up your future. According to Career Builders Survey, 80 percent of HR/talent leaders believe coaching is a key leadership practice
  • According to a study done by Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School, today’s Number 1 motivator of employees is not reward and recognition, but progress!
  • According to Bersin & Associates, Senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent as compared to those who never coach. And provide 130 percent increase in business performance

If you’ve been coaching your staff, connecting them to mentors and sponsors, your DNA is all over the up-and-comers and this bodes well for your career. So, managers, why wouldn’t you be adding this to your skills arsenal?

 If this small peek into Coaching-Mentoring-Sponsoring was informative, you’ll love to learn about the FREE September 24th  for managers only webinar led by a 

30+ year veteran Strategic Executive Coach.

 Unlocking Blind Spots

To Produce Great Work Through Others

 CLICK HERE to Learn More 



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Category: Mindful Monday