Gallup has a book coming out in May that discusses the most significant factor in an organization’s long-term success. What is it? It’s the manager, and the “research is based on the largest global study of the future of work.”
I’m making this point not to put undue pressure on managers—“If I mess this up, the company’s going to crumble!”—but rather to put realistic pressure on them. The manager is vital to the health of the organization.
Last week we wrote about the importance of self-awareness. If self-awareness is key for workers, it's even more critical for managers. Hey Manager, how's your self-awareness?
One popular strategy for managing is the weekly check-in. This supports the emerging workplace’s increased need for feedback and support. In the weekly check-in, the worker and manager meet for undivided time together.
What happens in the check-in varies from person to person, but we hope over time, employees will be able to say they:
- Felt seen and heard
- Grew as a person
- Were empowered to perform better
This may not happen in every check-in, but the cumulative effect of check-ins ought to bear out these results.
Hey Manager, how do you come across in your weekly check-ins? Do you come across as caring and interested? Or uncomfortable and squeamish? Do you seem harried and bothered? Are you smug and have it all figured out? Are you more dominant or more compliant?
Be aware of how you show up to your check-ins. Is that the person you want to be?
Manager As Coach
In addition to wanting feedback and support, another trait of today’s workplace is seeing the manager as a coach rather than a boss. If this is the case, are managers being trained in coaching skills and applying them to the weekly check-in? How does “check-in by coach” look different than “check-in by boss?”
Taking a coach approach to the weekly check-in is an effective way to manage the employee’s need for feedback and support and also serve more as a coach than a boss.
Bosses care more about getting the work done, but coaches care more about the person getting the work done. Coaches ask, bosses tell. Coaches are curious, bosses are about the bottom line. People stay for coaches, they leave for bosses. Which are you more like? Hey Manager, how's your self-awareness?
When we advise managers on taking a coach approach to weekly check-ins, we say that coaching is more drawing out than pouring in. It’s more listening than talking, more questioning than answering, more being than doing. There are certainly times for instructing, correcting, and training, but we suggest the check-ins are more about connecting and helping.
To do this:
Be aware of the person.Take note of who a person is before she shows up for the meeting. Refresh yourself on her personhood, things like strengths, communication style, personality traits, etc. What sources of understanding do you have? At our workplace, every employee has a profile page on our intranet site that has rich information about their personhood. This is helpful content for coaching check-ins.
Help the person to arrive at his own answers.
The best insights are usually the ones that come from within. Through active listening skills, help the employee to mine his own treasure. Help him find the solution he's seeking for. Ask “and what else?” to go deeper. Resist telling him what to do unless he asks you to do so. Reframe his insights into your own words, “What I hear you saying is…”
Take a curious approach.
Invite exploration and discovery. Come not as a know-it-all but as an observer. Leave room for silence. Be okay with unfinished business. Let openness build trust. Listen more than you talk. Ask more than you answer. Be open-handed with your agenda. Ask open-ended questions, not ones that are answered with yes or no.
Draw from your own strengths.
Decide which strengths will help you take a coach approach. We're all different types of people. If you’re more Water, lean on your relationship skills. If you’re more Wind, ask thoughtful questions and explore possibilities. If you’re more Earth, trust the process to play out. If you’re more Fire, inspire confidence. Whatever type of person you are, you can trust your strengths to get you through.
Yes, managers are vital to the health of the organization and its people. Managers use weekly check-ins and coaching skills to succeed in their work. But we believe in order to perform as managers, managers must attend to their personhood. Hey Manager, how's your self-awareness?