Coaching for Improved Work Performance

The key focus for any person in a management, leadership, or mentoring position should always be to help their employees be as fulfilled as possible. In many ways that is the definition of management - that the manager's main task is to manage people. It is their duty, their job to help those they are managing. Many managers lose track of that - they yell at their employees, mistreat them, and work them to the bone. This then results in the employee's losing motivation or even quitting. Rather than the boss' activities helping his company, he is actually causing serious harm.

This book helps to remind all who have responsibility for people that they need to take that responsibility very seriously.

First, the book goes over the basics of what it means to be a manager. A manager achieves results through others. It is what the manager's *reports* do which is important. Therefore, a manager must do everything he can to help his reports succeed. If an employee fails, it's really the manager who has failed.

Each employee (typically) only has one manager. Therefore, as challenging as it might be, a manager must treat every employee as if she was the only one. This can be tough! If a manager greets 20 employees during a morning, the 20th greeting must be as honestly sincere and warm as the first. A manager who "wears out" and gives that 20th employee only a half-hearted HI is not giving that "last employee" their fair share. Your task as a manager is to make the effort to care for all employees as well as you can, to learn the techniques to help them succeed.

Every employee needs recognition, needs to be shown when they are improving. Even "failing less frequently" is very important. A manager doesn't have a PhD in psychoanalyzing. You can't pretend to be a therapist. Your job is to fairly provide them with all the options you can, explain their tasks, praise them when they succeed.

Labeling people tends to restrict your options with them, and should be avoided. If you call someone "lazy" then you tend to treat them in a certain way which can greatly hinder their ability to succeed. Rather than falling back on labels, treat each person as an individual and work with their specific needs and situations.

Managers who call their workers "lazy" or "unmotivated" often haven't taken the time to really understand the situation. The book gives MANY examples where a manager made that sort of judgement about a person - and then further investigation found something quite different to be the cause. For example one manager thought his truck-packing people were careless, but actually boxes were being thrown at them so quickly that they had no choice but to stack them haphazardly.

Employees tend to do the best they can in a given situation. You as a manager might look at someone and say "why in the world did they not create a full report? They only gave me half of what I wanted." In many cases, though, the employee honestly thinks they are giving you everything you need. If you sit down and create a checklist with them, and ensure they follow it, that can often help. That way they really do know what you want. Another thing the book reminds you is that humans crave attention. It might be that the only time you pay attention to certain people is when they make a mistake! They might subconsciously be making mistakes to get that attention.

Your task as a manager is to help them see all their options, to learn about new alternatives. You need to help them know when they are on the right path by providing specific, positive, prompt feedback on anything good they do. If you find something negative going on, you need to work to change that *behavior* - you can't ever change a person.

Another issue the book brings out is that people rarely hear - verbatim - what you say to them. Their mind is constantly thinking and interpreting and guessing. So most of what the book teaches as your technique is to work conversations so that they are complete sentences. This technique works well for relationships too! You should never ask "yes/no" questions. You should phrase your responses so you repeat back their sentiments, so that they become more fully understood. You should phrase questions or comments to them so that they then explain the idea back to you.

If you find all of this to be "common sense" that you could use no help with, then congratulations! You're in the 1% of the population who is an ideal manager and needs no help. However, for the rest of us 99% people, even if some of this seems familiar, the "how to" for dealing with difficult situations alone is worth the price of this book. What I've described above isn't even one small part of what the book steps you through.

Highly recommended!

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