Becoming a Manager and Coach

The best managers in business are also great coaches. Look at some of the most successful sports teams. These teams have both great players and great coaches.

A manager and coach share common roles:

  • Help players discover what motivates them
  • Teach skills the players need to succeed
  • Guide players to change and improve
  • Support and encourage players in their plan to improve.

Good coaches understand that nagging, tearing down and belittling, which may come more natural to some of us, is not the right way to motivate their team. They are a guide to help individuals change. Coaches understand what motivates each individual player. They help their players recognize and understand what personally motivates them so they learn to motivate themselves. The highest goal of a coach is to help each player or employee develop their own personal motivation and desire for learning so they do not rely on external motivation and instruction from coaches or managers.

Becoming both a great manager and coach
Managers or supervisors often pull employees aside to discuss changes they can make to improve. Managers often tell their employees what they want them to change and work on to be better. As a manager, the next time you want to help an employee make improvements, use the following approach:


Prepare for the meeting

  • Determining what issues you want to address
  • Think of questions you might ask the employee
  • Determine your intended outcomes for the meeting.
  • Give the employee advanced notice about the time and length of the meeting.

These meetings run better when they are planned out and prepared for. You and the employee will both be prepared for the meeting. You can prepare yourself to be calm and supportive and the employee does not need to wonder if they are in trouble or how long this meeting will interrupt their plans for the day. The environment will be better, and the meeting more effective.


Holding the meeting

Set Expectations

  • Praise them for something they are doing well.
  • Let them know this is not a meeting to criticize, but to work together to help the employee improve.

Set the Agenda

  • Together, establish objectives for the meeting. Remember you want to help them discover more about themselves. Guide them to make goals to improve.
  • Let the employee know they will be very involved in the discussion and goal setting of the meeting.

Discovery Time

  • Ask open ended questions that require the employee to give you detailed answers about how they feel they are doing, the good and the bad. This will help them to engage in self-assessment.
  • Do not allow simple answers, use the 70-30 rule, they talk 70 percent of the meeting, you only talk 30 percent.

Provide Feedback

  • Provide honest feedback. Let them know what you feel they are doing well, and guide them to something they can find a solution to and work on.

Goals and Guidance

  • Work together setting goals to help the employee improve; again like a coach you will simply guide the discussion.
  •  Allow the employee to come up with their own solution and goals to work on. What we learn on our own will stay with us much longer than anything we are told.
  • If they have a poor idea ask questions such as, “If that were to fail what would you do?” or “If that doesn’t prove effective, what else could you try?” Until they come up with their own solution you agree with.
  • When they present a good solution tell them you have confidence it will work. This shows them you support their ideas and will encourage them.

This method allows the employee to decide what they can do to change, which will help them be more motivated to carry out their plan, and it will be a solution you agree with.


Summary and Next Steps

  • Summarize what you talked about and set a time to follow up. A follow up meeting gives the employee time to work on their goals and it holds them accountable to get the job done.

Following Up After the Meeting

  • Review the plan you both made together
  • Ask them how things have been going since implementing the plan. Find out what has or hasn’t been working. Get an accounting of how they have done working on their plans.
  • Ask what they feel the results of the plan are.  Have they seen improvement?
  • Ask what they think the next steps are. Guide them as they make adjustments to their original plan or as they make new plans to improve.

Someone who can be a manager and coach will be more effective at helping employees improve themselves and truly change and progress as employees and as individuals. Always remember your role as a manager and coach is to:

  • Help players discover what motivates them
  • Teach skills the players need to succeed
  • Guide players to change and improve
  • Support and encourage players in their plan to improve.


To learn more about becoming a better manager contact Terry Hansen at or by phone at 208-346-1005.