When managing smart, skilled people, with a can-do attitude, the most effective way to get great results from them is through coaching, not supervising. Coaching brings out the best of people, and ensures their brilliance is used to achieve the right business results. Management-by-coaching is supportive. It is inspirational. Coaching starts with the premise that the person wants to achieve great things, and is capable of achieving great things, but just needs help with putting that great attitude to work in the right way. When we identify some weaknesses, the coach can work with the person to make improvements. Because the person wants to improve, they are grateful for the coaching they receive.
But what about someone who no longer believes in the goals of the business? What about someone whose attitude stinks? “I just want to do the minimum I can get away with, draw my cheque and go home. I am only here for my pay cheque”. or “I am just marking time till I can draw my pension.” In that case, the benefit of supervisory management is that you at least achieve the minimum standard. Supervisory management ensures there is compliance to the minimum standards and norms.
It is important for managers to know where this performance line is. If someone is below the line, and has been operating below the line despite months of coaching and support, it may be time for more punitive measures. The message needs to be that unless their performance improves to get above the line there will be consequences. When coaching people above the line, the message is that as soon as we have mastered this weakness we will work on the next area of improvement. It’s a continual cycle of improvement – a bit like a golfer perfecting their swing. Nobody would assume that once a beginner was able to hit a 7-iron 150 yards down the fairway, that they didn’t need coaching anymore. On the other hand, if the person pitched up late for their lessons and hadn’t even hit a single ball at the driving range between lessons, you would assume that a different style of coaching was needed.
Being adaptive to be able to manage people above and below the line makes a manager a leader!